Week 13 Heisman Watch: Does Anyone Want It?by Alex Kielar November 28, 2021 2 comments
With only the conference championships remaining before the Heisman finalists are announced on December 6, some candidates have their books closed. For the candidates on teams that are playing next weekend, they have one final chance to bolster their campaigns. After next week, I will be giving my own prediction on who the four finalists will be. For now, let’s look at who sees themselves in the running.
1. Bryce Young, Alabama
For the first 58 minutes of the Iron Bowl, the Heisman chances for Young and the playoff chances for Alabama looked dead in the water. The quarterback looked shaky all game and had thrown an interception. The Crimson Tide were staring at a 10-3 deficit with 95 seconds remaining to three-touchdown underdog Auburn. After a booming punt, Young and the Alabama offense would have to go 97 yards to tie it. In a Heisman moment, he led a masterful, 12-play drive which was capped off by a touchdown pass to Ja’Corey Brooks. His top receiver, Jameson Williams, had been ejected for targeting in the first half.
Young showed poise despite looking more like Spencer Rattler for most of the game. It wasn’t pretty, but the Crimson Tide were able to pull it out in four overtimes and head to the SEC Championship with one loss. Young converted a third-and-10 from his own three-yard line, a fourth-and-seven from the Auburn 42, then hit Brooks on a go route down the right sideline with 29 seconds remaining to find the endzone. Unlike most years, Young isn’t the runaway favorite, but the odds are in his favor. A big performance against the bulldozing Georgia defense, and the trophy is his.
2. Kenneth Walker, Michigan State
Alright, last week was a fluke bad performance for Walker. He was dealing with a nagging left ankle injury and got just six carries for a season-low 25 yards against Ohio State. But the junior running back returned to Heisman form in the snow during the season finale against Penn State. The Maxwell and Doak Walker award finalist ran for 138 yards and a touchdown. It was the eighth time in 12 games that the Wake Forest transfer went over the 100 yard rushing mark. He ends the regular season with 1,636 yards and 18 touchdowns, averaging 6.2 yards per carry. That’s the fourth-best single-season total in school history, one yard behind Javon Ringer‘s 2018 mark. The Spartans won’t be playing in the Big Ten Championship, so it will land on the voters to decide Walker’s fate based on his regular-season numbers.
3. Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
With a lot less talent on offense than the other quarterbacks, Pickett has put up record-breaking numbers this season. On Saturday, the senior broke a Pitt touchdown record that stood for 40 years. With his second touchdown pass, Pickett broke Dan Mariano’s mark of 37 touchdown passes in a season with his 38th. He wound up finishing with four touchdown passes on the day to finish the season with 40. A big matchup against Wake Forest in the ACC Championship is a great chance for him to pad his stats.
4. C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
The loss to Michigan doesn’t help Stroud’s chances, although he didn’t have a bad day against the Wolverines. The blame shouldn’t land solely on the freshman quarterback’s shoulders. He put up some solid numbers and didn’t turn the ball over – 34-of-49, 394 passing yards, and two touchdowns. Maybe his numbers on the season are enough to be a finalist. But his struggles early on and the fact he has three future NFL starters at receiver puts a damper on his chances to win.
First four out: Matt Corral, Aidan Hutchinson, Jordan Davis, Desmond Ridder
In a Twitter poll, 36 percent of the 75 voters picked Young as their Heisman winner, 24 percent for Stroud and Corral, and 16 percent for Walker. There was also a write-in vote for Davis and one for Bailey Zappe.
Follow Alex Kielar on Twitter @AlexKielar
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images