Heisman Trophy Candidates. Can ANYONE Beat Caleb Williams?

Who’s in the hunt for the 2022 Heisman Trophy? Are there any other candidates than Caleb Williams now?

Heisman Watch: Top Candidates, Championship Week

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Last year at this time we still didn’t really know who the Heisman finalists were, much less the possible winner.

Alabama QB Bryce Young put together a drive for the ages to get by Auburn, but whatever – his candidacy was about to run into a hard wall with Georgia coming up next.

And then he threw for 421 yards and three touchdowns in the 41-24 SEC Championship win. That made it easy, and it’s simple this year, too, unless Caleb Williams has a disastrous day against Utah in the Pac-12 Championship.

Full disclosure, I’m a Heisman voter and can’t reveal my vote, preferences, or potential ideas for my ballot under penalty of death, or something far, far worse – like being forced to watch some sort of country music holiday special. With that said …

Can anyone provide any sort of a challenge to Williams?

The USC star did what he had to against Notre Dame, taking the Carson Palmer 2002 Heisman playbook and stepping up when the world was watching. However, Palmer didn’t have to play in a Pac-12 Championship with a College Football Playoff spot on the line.

There might be an opportunity for someone other than Williams to take the cheese with one monster performance this weekend.

Here are the five top realistic candidates for the 2022 Heisman Trophy.

Player(s) of Week 13

RB Donovan Edwards & QB JJ McCarthy, Michigan
But … but … Blake Corum?

After a week of speculation about whether or not Corum could play against Ohio State, he only ran twice for six yards. Edwards stepped up behind a great day from the Michigan offensive line, running 22 times for 216 yards and two scores. McCarthy ran six times for 27 yard and a score, and he hit half his passes for 263 yards and three touchdowns without a pick in the shocking 45-23 win.

5 Other Players On The Heisman Watch List

Reality check – if you’re not playing this weekend in one of the conference championship games, you’re not winning the 2022 Heisman Trophy.

You might be a finalist, but it’s going to take something amazing just to be close to the pin if you’re not doing something Heismaney with everyone paying attention.

Next week will be the list of finalists, and again, a few of these guys could be on it. None of them will win the trophy, though.

In alphabetical order …

QB Hendon Hooker, Tennessee
QB Drake Maye, North Carolina
QB Bo Nix, Oregon
RB Bijan Robinson, Texas
QB Bryce Young, Alabama

5. RB Blake Corum, Michigan

Unstoppable throughout the regular season, he wasn’t needed much in the first three games – he still managed to crank up five touchdown runs against UConn. Once the lights came on, he was fantastic averaging close to six yards per carry with 18 scores before suffering a knee injury late in the year against Illinois. He ran for 108 yards against the Illini as part of a run of eight straight 100-yard days.

Why Blake Corum Will Win the Heisman: He was the signature star for what’s turning into the signature team of the college football regular season. Seriously, Georgia was fun and all, but does it have wins as good as Michigan has over Ohio State and Penn State?

Why Blake Corum Won’t Win the Heisman: Shhhhhhh. You’re not supposed to say this out loud, but … 1) Blake Corum isn’t the best running back in college football – Bijan Robinson probably is. 2) Blake Corum isn’t the best running back in the Big Ten. He’s not even in the top two – Minnesota’s Mohamed Ibrahim and Chase Brown of Illinois had better seasons.

All that, and he – TOTALLY unfair, but it’s part of the Heisman deal – didn’t do much against Ohio State, and he’s hardly a lock to be a big factor in the Big Ten Championship with his knee injury still a concern.

NEXT: 2022 Heisman Candidates: Top 4

4. QB Stetson Bennett, Georgia

The stats aren’t there, but he’s been the steady veteran leader for a team that lost a gajillion players to the NFL and still came up with a dominant season. He’ll get a three-plus hour Heisman infomercial against LSU in the SEC Championship, and if he’s brilliant, he might be No. 3 on everyone’s ballot.

Why Stetson Bennett Will Win the Heisman: 25-of-31 for 368 yards and two touchdowns in the 49-3 win over Oregon. 17-of-25 for 257 yards and two touchdowns and no interceptions – none against Oregon, too – in the 27-13 win over Tennessee.

67%, 3,151 yards, 16 touchdowns, six interceptions – none of the picks really mattered – seven touchdown runs, No. 1 team in college football that’s this close to going 13-0. Ol’ Stetson did just fine.

Why Stetson Bennett Won’t Win the Heisman: Again the stats aren’t there.

16 touchdown passes seemed like a half for Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker and Washington’s Michael Penix Jr., and he’ll get lumped in as a caretaker on a team loaded with NFL talent.

Few will see him as the Best Player in College Football – even if he might be the leader of the best team in college football.

3. QB CJ Stroud, Ohio State

Does CJ Stroud play defense? No. Was it his fault Ohio State lost to Michigan? Maybe a wee bit, but … no.

Was he still able to rip apart team after team even though star WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba was hurt for most of the year? Did he put the team on his back and run for 79 yards in the storm game against Northwestern? Was he consistently brilliant all year? Yes, yes, and … yes.

It’s going to be lost in history, but …

Why CJ Stroud Will Win the Heisman: Stroud hit 65% of his passes for 349 yards and two touchdowns against Michigan. He threw two interceptions, but that game wasn’t on him.

Even with the loss, he’s still the most efficient quarterback in college football, he’s going into the bowl season averaging ver nine yards per pop, and the 37 touchdown passes and six picks

Why CJ Stroud Won’t Win the Heisman: Michigan 45, Ohio State 23.

Stroud will make a whole lot of ballots again for the second year in a row, but nope.

It’s not right, and it’s not fair, but he’s not winning the Heisman because for the second straight year That Team Up North is playing in The Big Ten Game That Really Matters in Indianapolis.

NEXT: 2022 Heisman Candidates: Top 2

3. QB Max Duggan, TCU

The guy didn’t even start the season. It was supposed to be Chandler Morris under center for new head coach Sonny Dykes, but he got hurt, Duggan stepped in, and 3,070 yards and 29 touchdowns later – along with close to 300 rushing yards and five scores – he’s in the Heisman hunt.

Why Max Duggan Will Win the Heisman: Quick, if you’re not a Big 12 fan and don’t really care about TCU football, name another Horned Frog player. At the very least you should know who WR Quentin Johnston is, and RB Kendre Miller has been wonderful, but … nah. It’s Duggan who’s the star of this show on a national scale.

Duggan’s a veteran who led the rise through the rock-solid Big 12 season, and now he has TCU in the conference title game with a shot at the College Football Playoff. Again, 29 touchdown passes, just three picks, the ability to pull game after game out of the fire – he has been Heisman worthy, but …

Why Max Duggan Won’t Win the Heisman: Quick, name who Max Duggan is.

It’s not fair, and it’s not right, but Duggan doesn’t have the name or face recognition like most of the star quarterbacks like Bryce, and Caleb, and CJ, and Michael, and AR, and others.

He was great the first time around in the win over Kansas State, and now he has to do it again. Even so, to get any first place votes it’s going to take a total collapse by …

1. QB Caleb Williams, USC

Williams followed Lincoln Riley from Oklahoma over to USC, became the signature get in the transfer portal, and he put on a show from the start hitting 86% of his throws in the win over Rice before bombing away on Stanford. The tone was set, and when things didn’t go right against Oregon State, he still came through in the clutch to pull off the win.

And the lone loss to Utah? 381 yards and five touchdowns, no interceptions. On the year …

Why Caleb Williams Will Win the Heisman: Over 3,700 yards with 34 touchdowns and just three picks. He connected on 18-of-22 passes for 232 yards and a touchdown against Notre Dame, and that was after the 470-yard, two touchdown day against UCLA. All of that, and he ran for seven touchdowns in the last four games including three against the Irish.

With seemingly all of the college football world collapsing last weekend, he stepped up and put up the best game of the year when it mattered the most. But …

Why Caleb Williams Won’t Win the Heisman: What happens if the Utah defense goes Utah defense?

This hasn’t been the Utah D of last year, but it’s still fantastic at keeping down high-powered offenses – it allowed 21 points or fewer in the five games since the shootout against the Trojans in the first meeting.

Last year it stomped all over Oregon in the Pac-12 title game – 147 passing yards, no touchdowns, two picks. Really, what happens if the Utah defense plays like it can and Williams has a miserable day in the game that really means everything this weekend?

Max, Stetson, and everyone else on Championship Weekend, you might have a shot if the USC wheels come off.

Week 13 Roundup
Rankings CFN 1-131 RankingsAP | Coaches
Bowl Eligible TeamsWeek 13 Scoreboard
Championship Week opening lines | CFP Top 25 Prediction
Bowl Projections, CFP Predictions | CFP Chase: 6 Teams Alive
Contact/Follow @PeteFiutak

Story originally appeared on College Football News