Heisman Watch Top Candidates After Week 13: Does ANYONE Want To Win This?

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  • Aidan Hutchinson
    American football player
  • Bryce Young
    American football quarterback
  • Chase Young
    Chase Young
    American football player

Who’s in the hunt for the Heisman Trophy? The top candidates, what they need to do, and who still has a realistic shot.

Heisman Watch: Top Candidates, Championship Week

Contact/Follow @PeteFiutak

Week 13 Roundup
Rankings CFN 1-130 Rankings | AP | Coaches
Bowl Eligible Teams | Week 13 Scoreboard
Week 14 opening lines | CFP Top 25 Prediction
Bowl Projections, CFP Predictions
Riley to USC, Napier to Florida: GAME ON
College Football Playoff Chase: 6 Teams Alive

Seriously, is anyone Heisman-worthy this year?

It’s supposed to go to the best player in college football, but realistically, it goes to the top player who’s the best combination Most Valuable Player and Most Outstanding Player.

The Heisman winner needs the stats, and it needs that moment. It needs that game when the world realized it’s seeing the signature player of the college football regular season.

Yeah, there aren’t any players who fit all of that this year. At least not yet.

So let’s give it a try. Who are the five top favorites to win the 2021 Heisman Trophy?

Player(s) of Week 13

RB Hassan Haskins & DE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan
Haskins ran for 169 yards and five touchdowns in the 42-27 win over Ohio State – granted, all five Wolverine offensive linemen deserve credit here, too. On the other side, Hutchinson led a dominant performance by the defensive front, coming up with seven tackles with three sacks.

5 Other Players On The Heisman Watch List

Now. before going forward, let’s cut through all of the hoo-ha. With one notable exception on the list, you’re not winning the 2021 Heisman Trophy if you’re not playing this weekend.

In a year with no one standing out, if you didn’t grab it by now, you’re not going to do it watching the biggest games of the season on TV.

Next week will be the list of finalists, and several of these guys will be on it. But actually winning it is another story.

In alphabetical order …

QB Matt Corral, Ole Miss
QB Sam Hartman, Wake Forest
RB Kenneth Walker, Michigan State
QB Caleb Williams, Oklahoma
QB Bailey Zappe, WKU

6. DE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan

Hassan Haskins might have been the signature star in the win over Ohio State, but Hutchinson was close behind. He has 13 sacks on the season with 54 tackles, 14,5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, and three broken up passes.

Why Aidan Hutchinson Will Win the Heisman: America saw him dominate Washington – back when Washington was supposed to be a thing. America saw him dominate Penn State – back when beating Penn State was supposed to be a thing.

America saw him come up with three sacks and a monster performance as a catalyst for the win over Ohio State. If he destroys Iowa, he might just rise up and grab the cheese.

Why Aidan Hutchinson Won’t Win the Heisman: He’s a defensive end – it’s going to take something even more otherworldly than his Ohio State performance to do this. However, if Chase Young could be in the mix a few years ago, Hutchinson can potentially get close.

5. DT Jordan Davis, Georgia

There is no signature star on Georgia, but the main man in the middle is the one the No. 1 team in the country works around. Georgia is No. 1 in the nation in scoring defense – allowing fewer than seven points per game – and it leads the nation in total defense, Davis is the textbook definition of an anchor for the D.

Why Jordan Davis Will Win the Heisman: If Georgia pitches a shutout – or at least stuffs Alabama in the SEC Championship game – that ends the campaign of Bryce Young, and there aren’t a whole lot of other main options. Davis would be a representative as the top defensive player on the top team.

Why Jordan Davis Won’t Win the Heisman: The splashy stats aren’t there. Ndamukon Suh – full disclosure; Suh got my vote – destroyed Texas in the 2009 Big 12 Championship to cap off an amazing year, but he also did it with 12 sacks, 20.5 tackles for loss, and he led the team with 85 tackles. That’s not Davis’s game – there won’t be any tangible numbers to crank up the support.

NEXT: 2021 Heisman Candidates: Top 4

4. QB Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati

He’s playing his best ball at just the right time.

With 3,000 yards, 27 touchdown passes, six touchdown runs, and just eight picks – and with a touchdown catch thrown in there – the numbers are fine and the efficiency is there.

Why Desmond Ridder Will Win the Heisman: He’s The Guy leading the way on a potentially historic team.

Say what you will about the Cincinnati schedule – and oh have I ever – but he’s been sharp all year, he threw for close to 300 yards with two scores and no picks in the win over Notre Dame, and he should be a finalist if he lights up Houston in the American Athletic Conference Championship.

However …

Why Desmond Ridder Won’t Win the Heisman: Not to be snarky in any way, but who – other than me with several monitors going – is actually going to watch the American Athletic Conference Championship? It’s happening at the exact same time as the SEC Championship between Georgia and Alabama is being played.

And the numbers are great. They’re not amazing. He’s had a strong year, but stat-wise it’s not a Heisman run.

3. QB Kenny Pickett, Pitt

He’s a great story in the midst of an amazing season. He hit 68% of his passes for 4,066 yards and 40 touchdowns – tied for second in the nation behind WKU’s Bailey Zappe – with just seven picks. If he destroys Wake Forest to win the ACC Championship, he’ll be right there in the mix.

Why Kenny Pickett Will Win the Heisman: The run of monster games over the second half of the season got Pitt to within a game of taking the ACC Championship. When the team needed him the most, he has thrown for three touchdowns or more in the last five games.

He hit the amazing Clemson defense for over 300 yards and two scores – Pitt was the first team to beat the Tigers in the regular season by double-digits since 2014 – and the losses weren’t really his fault. He threw for close to 400 yards with six touchdowns against Western Michigan, and he bombed away for 519 yards and three scores in the loss to Miami.

However …

Why Kenny Pickett Won’t Win the Heisman: He’s got the Desmond Ridder problem. Who’s going to watch the ACC Championship – or give it the full and undivided attention it deserves – while the Big Ten Championship between Michigan and Iowa is happening?

There’s one other big problem with Pickett stealing the Heisman late in the process – Wake Forest’s Sam Hartman might outplay him.

NEXT: 2021 Heisman Candidates: Top 2

2. QB CJ Stroud, Ohio State

The numbers are incredible. He missed a game, and he still threw for over 3,800 yards with 38 touchdowns with five picks. Over the last five games he threw for over 300 yards in each.

He wasn’t bad in the two losses, throwing for close to 400 yards against Michigan with two touchdowns and no picks, and he threw for 484 yards and three scores in the loss to Oregon.

Why CJ Stroud Will Win the Heisman: When the team needed him down the stretch, he was there.

He hit Michigan State for a 32-of-35 day for 432 yards and six touchdowns, and that came after connecting on 82% of his throws for 361 yards and five touchdowns against Purdue. He threw two picks against Penn State, and that was it for the interceptions since giving one away against Tulsa on September 18th.

No, he’s not playing this weekend, but if no one else stands out, Stroud will likely be second on most ballots. Assuming the No. 1 spot is split up among several options, he might just slide on into the trophy.

Why CJ Stroud Won’t Win the Heisman: You’re not crazy to suggest that he’s not even the best offensive player on his own team, much less the nation.

You’re not crazy to suggest that he’s pushing it to even get into the top five of players on his own team.

Yes, he was amazing, and yes, he’s a special player. Ohio State had to win two games – Oregon, and Michigan. It wasn’t his fault in any way in either loss, but they were losses.

1. QB Bryce Young, Alabama

The combination of big plays and stats are there. He has thrown for close to 4,000 yards with 40 touchdowns and just four picks. He’s been able to bomb away, lead the way when the team has been struggling, and he has grown into the gig.

Even when there’s a big problem and he’s having a bad day – like last week when he completed fewer than half of his passes …

Why Bryce Young Will Win the Heisman: NOTHING was working.

Alabama was down 10-3 and on its 3-yard line with 1:32 to play against an Auburn defense that stuffed everything all day long. It was a struggle, but Young moved the sticks, hit a 4th-and-7 to keep the season alive, and with 24 seconds to play, he connected with Ja’Corey Brooks to help send the game into overtime.

You want your Heisman moment – the one big MVP thing that everyone saw? That was it. In the College Football Playoff chase, no one has done anything bigger than that.

In the 4th OT, one throw to John Metchie on as calm a play possible, and Alabama got out 22-20.

Now, if he has a good day against Georgia in a win, it’s over. If he has a great day in a loss, he’ll be very, very close.

Why Bryce Young Won’t Win the Heisman: Georgia apparently can play D.

The Bulldogs have allowed five touchdown passes on the year – two to Kentucky, two to Tennessee, one to South Carolina. That’s it. Tennessee is the only team too throw for 300 yards on this defense that’s been a brick wall all season long.

Young has to be amazing to pull off the Heisman. He’s No. 1 on this list because he’ll get the chance to take the trophy with one big day.

Week 13 Roundup
Rankings CFN 1-130 Rankings | AP | Coaches
Bowl Eligible Teams | Week 13 Scoreboard
Week 14 opening lines | CFP Top 25 Prediction
Bowl Projections, CFP Predictions
Riley to USC, Napier to Florida: GAME ON
College Football Playoff Chase: 6 Teams Alive