Heisman Watch: Two frontrunners emerge, according to the oddmakers, and neither is named Penix

Welcome to our weekly look at the Pac-12’s leading Heisman Trophy candidates via an assessment of the top players in the conference. Consider this one Heisman voter’s view of the regional landscape. The rankings are based on individual performance, value to the team and quality of competition.

Had the Heisman Trophy winner been announced at the end of September, Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. might very well have walked away with the award.

At the end of October, he would have been a lock.

But like conference championships, the trophy is won in the stretch run.

As of today, Penix is not the betting favorite — or even a close second. He’s running third, behind LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels and Oregon quarterback Bo Nix.

The latest odds from BetMGM show Nix as the favorite at 11-to-10, followed by Daniels at 7-to-5.

As for Penix, well, he’s running third at 5-to-1.

The situation is extremely fluid. But if oddmakers are correct, Penix needs two impressive performances — and two more victories — to capture the award.

Our ratings of the top Pac-12 players are as follows …

1. Washington QB Michael Penix Jr.

Last week: 1
Key stats: 335.9 yards per game, 9.4 yards per attempt, 30 touchdowns
Comment: Penix’s modest statistical performance in the victory over Oregon State (162 yards) didn’t impact our view — the conditions were challenging (as was the OSU defense). He made the throws he had to make to secure the win, which is what Heisman frontrunners are supposed to do.

2. Oregon QB Bo Nix

Last week: 2
Key stats: 191.4 passer rating, 78.1% completions, 35 touchdowns
Comment: Nix continues to play with otherworldly efficiency — he has thrown just two interceptions this season, and one of them deflected off the hands of his receiver — and benefits from Oregon’s overall dominance, which produces open receivers, plenty of time to throw and manageable down-and-distance situations.

3. USC QB Caleb Williams

Last week: 3
Key stats: 68.6% completions, 9.4 yards per game, 30 touchdowns
Comment: USC’s winless November squashed any chance of Williams repeating as the Heisman winner, but his numbers for the three losses (69.3% completions, seven total touchdowns and one interception) were good enough to have kept him in the race if the Trojans could play a lick of defense.

4. Washington WR Rome Odunze

Last week: 6
Key stats: 66 receptions, 18.3 yards per catch, 11 touchdowns
Comment: Odunze was sensational in Corvallis, accounting for seven of the Huskies’ 13 receptions, 106 of their 162 receiving yards and two of their three touchdowns. And he caught the third-down pass that iced the game. Odunze is playing at a first-team All-American level and is a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award given to the nation’s top receiver.

5. Arizona QB Noah Fifita

Last week: 4
Key stats: 159.6 passer rating, 73.6% completions, 18 touchdowns
Comment: The former three-star recruit with a modest list of scholarship offers has engineered five consecutive wins and is a lock for Pac-12 Freshman Offensive Player of the Year. In fact, Arizona’s biggest concern at this point should be keeping Fifita. The heavyweight programs will take aim at Arizona’s …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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