As the 2023 college football season winds down, the Heisman Trophy race is heating up, showcasing a blend of frontrunners and dark horses, each with their unique storylines. This prestigious award, a symbol of individual excellence in college football, is up for grabs, and the competition is fierce. While many Heisman titles in recent years have been runaway victories, this year’s voting looks to be a nail-biter.

The Frontrunners:

Bo Nix, Oregon:

Bo Nix, Oregon, is the current favorite, according to FanDuel Heisman odds, but his game with Michael Penix and Washington will go a long way in determining whether he’ll hold up the Heisman in a few weeks. 

Nix has had an exceptional season, with a stellar 78.6% completion rate, 37 touchdowns, and 189.8 rating. His transformation since his Auburn days has been a key to his success this season​​, and a win in the Pac-12 Championship could include a trip to the College Football Playoff.

Jayden Daniels, LSU:

Jayden Daniels, LSU is considered to be ever so slightly behind Nix. From an all-around statistical standpoint, Daniels has shined above everyone else, amassing 3,812 passing yards, 1,134 rushing yards, and a total of 50 touchdowns through the air and on the ground. 

The only roadblock has been his team’s three losses, putting him out of consideration for a national title, unlike the other two top contenders. However, much of LSU’s struggles have come because of their defense, not Daniels and the offense.

Michael Penix Jr., Washington:

Michael Penix Jr., Washington boasts an impressive 3,899 passing yards and 32 touchdowns, making him another one of the top candidates. He has led the Huskies to an undefeated season and a top-4 ranking in the College Football Playoff Poll. 

His journey from a struggling Big Ten quarterbuggles against Washington State dented his odds a bit, but a standout performance against Oregon on Friday night in the Pac-12 Championship could not only elevate his Heisman chances again but also put his team in the College Football Playoff.

The Dark Horses:

While the frontrunners lead the charge, the Heisman race often sees unexpected twists, with some dark horse candidates with the potential to emerge. All these athletes compete this weekend, giving them one final chance to make an impact in the voters’ minds.

J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan:

McCarthy has delivered several notable performances this season, including this past Saturday against No. 2 Ohio State. He has accumulated 2,483 passing yards, with 19 touchdowns and just four interceptions. His QBR stands impressively at 90.8, demonstrating his efficiency and effectiveness as a quarterback. A Big 10 championship win on Saturday over Iowa pretty much guarantees him a third consecutive trip to the College Football Playoff.

Blake Corum, RB, Michigan:

The senior running back has been a key player for the Wolverines this season. Corum has rushed for 976 yards on 202 carries, scoring an impressive 22 touchdowns. With an average of 4.8 yards per carry, he has been a consistent and powerful force in Michigan’s offense. Running backs have been mostly overlooked for the Heisman recently, though, which could make Corum’s chances of a Heisman a true long shot.

Carson Beck, QB, Georgia:

Beck had big shoes to fill after Stetson Bennett helped guide the Bulldogs to two national titles–and he has undoubtedly filled them. Beck, has shown remarkable skill this season, passing for 3,495 yards with 22 touchdowns. His QBR of 85.4 reflects his solid performance and contributions to the Georgia Bulldogs’ success. Despite a slow start, he has the Bulldogs one win away from a playoff selection. 

Jalen Milroe, QB, Alabama

Several weeks ago, Milroe was benched for his below-average play. Now, he’s making a late push for a Heisman Trophy Race. What he has done to turn around the Crimson Tide’s season is nothing short of remarkable, with the pinnacle coming in the Iron Bowl against Auburn, where Milroe threw a miraculous 31-yard game-winning touchdown pass on 4th and goal.

The touchdown kept his team’s hopes for an SEC title and playoff selection alive. Milroe has passed for 2,526 yards and 21 touchdowns while rushing for another 439 yards and 12 scores. 

The Importance of Team Success in the Heisman Trophy Race

While individual performances are crucial in the Heisman Trophy race, the success of a player’s team can’t be overlooked. Historically, the Heisman winners often come from teams competing for national championships or at least enjoying a standout season. This year is no exception. For quarterbacks like Michael Penix Jr. and Bo Nix, their team’s performance in the College Football Playoff picture significantly bolsters their candidacy. 

This interplay between individual brilliance and team success creates a dynamic narrative in the Heisman race. Players like Jayden Daniels of LSU may face a more challenging road to the trophy because they have been out of contention for a national title since early in the season and will not play on Championship Saturday. Thus, while personal stats are critical, they don’t exist in a vacuum – the team’s overall success is a vital component of a Heisman-worthy season.


The Heisman Trophy race is shaping up to be one of the most exciting in recent years. With a mix of established stars and emerging talents, it promises to be a closely contested battle. The Heisman Trophy Race will be presented on Dec. 9, 2023, a week following the conference championship games, with finalists announced on Dec. 4​​.

This race is not just about statistics; it’s about leadership, resilience, and the ability to elevate a team. As the season concludes, these athletes are not just playing for victory in the present but for a place in college football history.