Heisman Watch: Caleb Williams, Max Duggan shine bright

USC quarterback Caleb Williams faked the handoff, kept the ball himself and raced into the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown run. The Trojan sophomore signal-caller jumped in the air and let out a scream to the USC faithful before running to his team’s sideline and striking a Heisman pose.

It may not be the last time Williams pulls off that pose over the next month. After another impressive showing in a 38-27 win over Notre Dame on Saturday, Williams now appears to be in a two-way race for this year’s Heisman Trophy, joining Ohio State’s CJ Stroud as clear favorite

Stroud, who was the betting favorite to win the Heisman heading into Saturday, had a solid start, but it came in a loss to the opposition. Michigan. Meanwhile, Wolverines RB Core Blake played only one series against the Buckeyes due to injury, and Oregon QB Good Nix had a good start but was also limited by injury.

Now, heading into conference championship week, the question is, did Williams close the gap?

Here’s how the top Heisman candidates fared this week heading into Week 13.

Note: Players are ranked according to FOX Bet Week 13 odds.

1. Ohio State QB CJ Stroud: -133

Stroud had a solid start against Michigan, but the No. 2-ranked Buckeyes couldn’t establish the run on the offensive side of the ball, leading to him throwing the ball 48 times in a 45- 23 against the Wolverines. He completed 31 of those 48 passes for 349 yards and two scores, while adding two interceptions.

If Stroud had put up those numbers in a win, his Heisman chances would look pretty good right now. But the talented signal-caller didn’t have that true “Heisman moment” Saturday, instead throwing a pair of costly interceptions late in the contest.

Ohio State’s CJ Stroud hits Marvin Harrison Jr. for the 42-yard touchdown

Ohio State's CJ Stroud hits Marvin Harrison Jr.  for the 42-yard touchdown

Ohio State’s CJ Stroud hits Marvin Harrison Jr. for the 42-yard touchdown to regain the lead, 20-17.

Ranking week 12: 1

Trend: stable

Next: TBD

2. USC QB Caleb Williams: +110

Another week, another dominant performance from USC’s sophomore quarterback. On a day when several other Heisman candidates struggled, Williams shined, throwing for 232 yards and one touchdown while adding 35 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Williams’ 3-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter marked his 42nd TD of the season, which is the most in a single season by a USC QB.

The fact that Williams has played so well down the stretch while leading his team to a near-perfect 11-1 regular season and a berth in the Pac-12 Conference Championship Game should only help his chances of winning college football’s most prestigious individual award. To say he looks like Patrick Mahomes 2.0 would be a bold assessment, but an accurate one. It’s a joy to see him.

Ranking week 12: 5

Trend: up

Next: Pac-12 Championship Game, Dec. 2.

3. Michigan RB Core Blake: +1400

Corum entered Saturday’s matchup with Ohio State with an injury, and it wasn’t certain if he would even play. The all-around running back carried the ball twice on the Wolverines’ first possession of the game, but didn’t return to action after that.

Donovan Edwards took over in the Wolverines’ backfield, adding a career-high 216 yards and two touchdowns in Michigan’s 45-23 victory. While Corum’s Heisman hopes took a hit, it was an unforgettable day for everyone on the Wolverines.

Ranking week 12: 3

Trend: down

Next: Big Ten Championship Game, Dec. 3.

4. Oregon QB Good Nix: +5000

Win or lose, Nix continues to put up video game-like numbers on a weekly basis. The Auburn transfer completed 27 of 41 passes for 327 yards and two touchdowns in Oregon’s 38-34 loss to Oregon State. Nix’s limited mobility due to a right ankle injury was a big factor in the loss. He entered the game averaging nearly 50 yards per game on the ground, but carried the ball just three times for -5 yards on Saturday.

Ranking week 12: 10

Trend: stable

Next: TBD

5. TCU QB Max Duggan: +6000

After another dominant performance on Saturday, Duggan should continue to receive more and more Heisman hype heading into next weekend’s Big 12 Championship Game. The senior QB was 17-for-24 for 212 yards and three touchdowns in the Horned Frogs’ 62-14 win over Iowa State. He completed passes to 10 different players in the win.

Duggan has now thrown three or more touchdown passes in seven games this season. With a perfect 12-0 regular season and another impressive performance on his resume, Duggan boosted his Heisman chances heading into conference championship weekend.

Ranking week 12: 7

Trend: up

Next: Big 12 Championship Game, Dec. 3.

6. LSU QB Jayden Daniels: +8000

Daniels continued to gain momentum in the Heisman Trophy race during the second half of the season. But his Heisman hopes and LSU’s CFP chances likely ended Saturday with the Tigers’ 38-25 loss to Texas A&M. Daniels completed 21 of 35 passes for 189 yards and failed to throw for a touchdown. He also added 84 yards rushing.

Ranking week 12: 8

Trend: down

Next: SEC Championship Game, Dec. 3.

7. North Carolina QB Drake Maye: +10000

Maye looked like one of, if not the best quarterback in college football through the first 11 weeks of the season. The UNC QB has struggled in his last two outings, including a 30-27 loss to NC State on Friday. Maye completed 29 of 49 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown, as well as an interception. He also had 32 yards and a score on the ground in the loss.

Maye has now completed less than 60 percent of his throws in two straight games after completing 63 percent or better in nine of the previous 10 games. Maye is probably on the outside looking in for the Heisman Trophy, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that he enjoyed an outstanding redshirt freshman campaign.

Ranking week 12: 4

Trend: down

Next: ACC Championship Game, Dec. 3.

8. Georgia QB Stetson Bennett: +10000

Bennett only threw 18 passes Saturday, but in the end, it didn’t matter. He completed 10 of those 18 passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns as top-ranked Georgia cruised to a 37-14 victory over in-state foe Georgia Tech. Bennett’s stats are impressive this season — 3,011 passing yards, 14 TD passes — but it’s his ability to step up in big moments that makes him such a special player. Bennett is now 26-3 as a starter under center at Georgia.

Ranking week 12: 6

Trend: stable

Next: SEC Championship Game, Dec. 3.

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