Heisman Watch: Michigan's J.J. McCarthy facing golden opportunity down the stretch

For the rest of the college football season, Yahoo Sports will highlight the leading candidates for the Heisman Trophy on a weekly basis. All odds are via BetMGM.

The season starts now for J.J. McCarthy and Michigan.

The Wolverines are 9-0 and No. 3 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings, but the level of competition on the schedule to this point has been lackluster. Michigan hasn’t faced a single ranked team and its average margin of victory has been a remarkable 34 points per game.

Along the way, McCarthy has been excellent in his second season as Michigan’s starting quarterback and finds himself in the thick of the Heisman Trophy race. Other than a three-interception game back in September, McCarthy has been operating the Michigan offense at an extremely high level. While some of his statistics won’t wow you — his 2,134 passing yards ranks 39th in the nation — McCarthy has been incredibly efficient.

McCarthy, who is currently +600 to win the Heisman at BetMGM, has completed 75.7% of his passes (No. 3 nationally), is averaging 10.4 yards per attempt (tied No. 2 nationally) and has the second-best passer rating in the country (188.68). He also has a stellar 18-to-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) has been excellent this season, but the competition level is about to ramp up, starting with this weekend against No. 10 Penn State. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) has been excellent this season, but the competition level is about to ramp up, starting with this weekend against No. 10 Penn State. (AP Photo/Al Goldis) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

But will McCarthy be able to operate at that level against better teams? Michigan’s entire season essentially comes down to this three-game stretch, starting with Saturday’s road game at No. 10 Penn State. Penn State’s only loss of the year came at Ohio State back on Oct. 21 and the Nittany Lions are hungry to get back in the CFP and Big Ten title hunts.

Penn State has one of the best defenses in the country and Beaver Stadium will represent the toughest road environment McCarthy and the Wolverines have faced by a significant margin this season.

If McCarthy can put up big numbers in a Michigan win, his Heisman odds could make a major move — especially with the showdown against Ohio State looming. Even if he doesn’t have the gaudy stats of the other Heisman frontrunners, McCarthy could play his way to New York with his performances vs. Penn State and Ohio State.

But there’s also another factor looming. Will Michigan’s sign-stealing scandal affect Heisman voters in any way? The Big Ten could levy discipline to the program at some point this week, and whatever findings emerge could influence the way voters view McCarthy and the Wolverines’ dominance on the field.

Stay tuned.

Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. (+150)

Washington keeps on winning and Michael Penix Jr. remains atop the Heisman odds board entering Week 11. After a couple shaky performances in the Arizona State and Stanford games, the Huskies improved to 9-0 with a 52-42 road win over USC.

Penix had another strong game, completing 22-of-30 passes for 256 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. Penix has had to carry a heavy load throughout the season, but UW was able to lean on Dillon Johnson and the running game against the Trojans as he racked up 256 yards and four touchdowns.

Penix, who leads the nation with 3,201 passing yards, made an incredible play in the second quarter when he avoided pressure, escaped left toward his own sideline and found Devin Culp for a 22-yard touchdown.

If Penix does win the Heisman, that play will definitely feature prominently in his Heisman reel. And he has opportunities to add to that reel with a challenging schedule ahead, including a likely spot in the Pac-12 title game.

Oregon QB Bo Nix (+200)

Bo Nix and Oregon dropped a heartbreaker to Washington in Seattle last month but have rebounded with three straight wins to improve to 8-1 on the season. And as the Ducks keep winning, Nix keeps putting up big numbers. In Saturday’s win over Cal, Nix threw for 386 yards and four touchdowns while adding two rushing touchdowns.

Nix’s season-long statistics are incredible. He’s thrown for 2,723 yards and 25 touchdowns with only two interceptions while completing 78.1% of his attempts. He also has 116 yards and five scores rushing on the year.

This weekend, Nix has the chance to add to his stats against the porous USC defense. The Ducks also have a trip to Arizona State before closing out the regular season at home vs. Oregon State. If Oregon keeps winning, it will likely get a rematch with Washington in the Pac-12 title game.

If that matchup comes to fruition, Nix could be in a position for a duel with Penix with major Heisman and College Football Playoff stakes, not to mention the conference championship.

LSU QB Jayden Daniels (+300)

Jayden Daniels put together another remarkable performance, but it wasn’t enough for LSU to pull off the upset over Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Daniels threw for 219 yards and two touchdowns while adding 163 yards and a score on the ground before exiting in the second half with an injury.

Daniels’ rushing total was a career high and gives him 684 rushing yards on the season, which ranks second nationally among quarterbacks. He is also up to 2,792 yards (No. 5 nationally) and 27 touchdowns (No. 2) with only four interceptions as a passer. He’s completing 72.1% of his passes, which is seventh nationally.

LSU has a 6-3 record this season, but where would the Tigers be without Daniels? The defense has been a massive disappointment, but Daniels has managed to keep his team competitive in nearly every game. If he finishes the season strong, he has a great chance to get to the Heisman ceremony in New York City. He’ll certainly have earned it.

Florida State QB Jordan Travis (+800)

It feels like Florida State QB Jordan Travis is looming in the background of the Heisman race. FSU is 9-0 and No. 4 in the CFP rankings and Travis has been putting together good performances on a weekly basis.

In last weekend’s win over Pitt, Travis threw for a season-high 360 yards with two total TDs — one passing and another rushing. For the season, Travis has thrown for 2,469 yards and 19 touchdowns with only two interceptions. He also has 190 yards and seven TDs as a runner.

Two of FSU’s final three games are against rivals — Miami and Florida — but neither of those teams are having strong seasons. And then FSU’s most likely opponent in the ACC title game is Louisville. Will Travis have the opportunities to create Heisman moments?

Ohio State WR Marvin Harrison Jr. (+1000)

Marvin Harrison Jr.’s streak of 100-yard games came to an end in Saturday’s 35-16 win over Rutgers, but he still made his presence felt for Ohio State. He caught only four passes for 25 yards, but two of them went for touchdowns.

For the season, Harrison has 52 catches for 914 yards and 10 touchdowns. He’s had some game-breaking performances, most notably when he caught 11 passes for 162 yards and a TD in the win over Penn State.

Ohio State is 9-0 with home games against Michigan State and Minnesota ahead, but Harrison’s biggest chance to propel himself into a more prominent part of the Heisman race will come when the Buckeyes travel to Ann Arbor to face Michigan on Nov. 25.

Georgia QB Carson Beck (+2000)

Don’t forget about Carson Beck.

Beck is in his first year as Georgia’s starting quarterback and the Bulldogs have been a bit more reliant on the passing game this season. Beck has steadily improved as the season has progressed and has topped 300 yards in four of UGA’s last six games. He threw for 315 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Florida and followed that up with 254 yards and two more TDs in the win over Missouri.

For the season, Beck has thrown for 2,716 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions while completing 72.2% of his attempts. Georgia’s next two games are against ranked opponents — No. 9 Ole Miss and No. 13 Tennessee — and a potential showdown with Alabama in the SEC title game looms.

Beck has several opportunities to make an impression on voters in the coming weeks.

Others on the radar

  • Oklahoma QB Dillon Gabriel: +2500

  • USC QB Caleb Williams: +5000

  • Alabama QB Jalen Milroe: +6000

  • North Carolina QB Drake Maye: +6600

  • Notre Dame QB Sam Hartman: +6600

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top