2023 Heisman Watch: Michael Penix Jr. dazzles; Jalen Milroe enters the mix

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College Football

Nov. 5, 2023 1:52 a.m. ET

Week 10 of the college football season featured a loaded slate of games, but for fans who love outstanding quarterback play and offenses that put up big-time numbers, there was no better offering than Saturday night’s Pac-12 showdown between Washington and USC.

Both Michael Penix Jr. and Caleb Williams were outstanding, but in the end, it was Penix and the Huskies who left Los Angeles with a 52-42 victory in a game that featured more than 1,000 yards of total offense. While Penix shined bright for the Huskies, another Pac-12 signal-caller, Oregon‘s Bo Nix, put together an impressive performance of his own in the Ducks’ 63-19 win over Cal. Meanwhile, Alabama‘s Jalen Milroe put up jaw-dropping numbers in a 42-28 win over No. 14 LSU, which should help boost his Heisman stock.

Let’s take a look at how the Heisman favorites performed in Week 10, and how that could shake up the odds next week.

1. Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington: +280

Penix dazzled in Washington’s 52-42 victory over USC on Saturday night. The left-handed signal-caller made a number of impressive throws, including a jaw-dropping 22-yard touchdown pass to Devin Culp early in the second quarter. He completed 22 of 30 passes for 256 yards, two touchdowns, and added a rushing score in the victory. Penix has now totaled three or more touchdowns in seven of the Huskies’ nine games this season.

Next: The Huskies take on No. 18 Utah on Nov. 11.

Washington escapes USC with a 52-42 win

2. J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan: +360

Another week, another solid outing for McCarthy, who completed 24 of 37 passes for a season-high 335 yards in Michigan’s 41-13 win over Purdue. The talented junior QB didn’t throw a TD pass in the game, but the Wolverines didn’t need it as they scored five rushing touchdowns, with Blake Corum leading the way with three. Through nine games this season, McCarthy is completing 75.7% of his passes for 2,134 yards and 21 total touchdowns.

Next: The Wolverines take on No. 11 Penn State on Nov. 11.

3. Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU: +400

From a statistical standpoint, Daniels had as good a case as anyone for being the Heisman leader heading into Week 10. The senior QB was outstanding once again Saturday night against a hard-nosed Alabama defense. He completed 15 of 24 passes for 219 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, while also rushing for 163 yards and a touchdown. But Daniels had his night come to a close after he was hurt on a hard hit early in the fourth quarter.

Next: The Tigers take on Florida on Nov. 11.

4. Bo Nix, QB, Oregon: +500

Oregon keeps putting up big point totals, and Nix keeps putting up Heisman-caliber statistics. The Ducks’ senior was incredible once again in his team’s 63-19 win over Cal. Nix completed 29 of 38 passes for 386 yards and four touchdowns, while also adding two more scores on the ground. Nix was responsible for all five of the Ducks’ first-half scores, including a pair of TD passes that went to WR Tez Johnson, who finished with 12 catches for 180 yards. While Nix’s passing yards (2,723) and total touchdowns (30) certainly stand out this season, it’s his 78.1% completion percentage that is the most impressive.

Next: The Ducks take on No. 20 USC on Nov. 11.

5. Jordan Travis, QB, Florida State: +800

How good is Travis? The senior threw for 360 yards and had two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing) in FSU’s 24-7 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday, all while playing on the road with both of his star wide receivers — Keon Coleman and Johnny Wilson — out with injuries. Through nine games this season, Travis has thrown for 2,469 yards, 19 touchdowns and just two interceptions, while leading the Seminoles to a 9-0 record. With Saturday’s win, Travis and the Seminoles have already clinched a spot in the ACC Championship game.

Next: The Seminoles take on Miami on Nov. 11.

6. Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State: +1000

Is there a more effective play in college football than a back-shoulder fade to Harrison Jr. when the Buckeyes get into the red zone? Holding onto a narrow 21-16 lead over Rutgers early in the fourth quarter, Ohio State QB Kyle McCord connected with Harrison on a pair of back-shoulder fades, both of which resulted in touchdowns and helped keep the Buckeyes unbeaten. Harrison only finished with four catches for 25 yards, but the 6-foot-4 junior proved to be unstoppable when the game was on the line and his team needed him the most.

Next: The Buckeyes take on Michigan State on Nov. 11.

7. Carson Beck, QB, Georgia: +3000

Beck continues to sneak up the Heisman charts, and that should be the case once again this upcoming week following his impressive showing in a 30-21 win over Missouri. A first-year starter, Beck was in complete control Saturday, completing 21 of 32 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns. Through nine games, Beck is completing 72.2% of his passes for 2,716 passing yards and 19 total touchdowns.

Next: The Bulldogs take on No. 10 Ole Miss on Nov. 11.

Georgia survives Missouri with a 30-21 win

8. Dillon Gabriel, QB, Oklahoma: +3500

After a hot start in the first half of the season, it’s been a rough two-week stretch for Gabriel and the Sooners. Gabriel put up solid numbers on Saturday, but it wasn’t quite enough as Oklahoma fell to Oklahoma State, 27-24, in the last Bedlam rivalry game before Oklahoma leaves the Big 12 for the SEC next year. Gabriel completed 26 of 37 passes for 344 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Gabriel was a popular Heisman pick following Oklahoma’s massive win over rival Texas in Week 6, but now, following another loss, the left-handed senior signal-caller has a lot of ground to make up in the race.

Next: The Sooners take on West Virginia on Nov. 11.

9. Ollie Gordon II, Oklahoma State, +6000

This is the first week that Gordon’s name has appeared on our “Heisman Watch” list, and if his performance on Saturday was any indication of what’s to come, he’ll continue to be here. The Cowboys fed their do-it-all running back as he racked up a career-high 33 carries for 137 rushing yards and two touchdowns in Oklahoma State’s 27-24 win over rival Oklahoma. Gordon, who entered the game as the nation’s leading rusher, has now rushed for 120-plus yards in six straight games.

Next: The Cowboys take on UCF on Nov. 11.

T10. Jalen Milroe, QB, Alabama: +8000

As good as Penix, Nix and Gordon were on Saturday, perhaps no player had a better outing than Milroe. The first-year starter was outstanding in Alabama’s 42-28 victory over No. 14 LSU, throwing for 219 yards and rushing for 155 more, with four touchdowns in the victory. 

Next: The Crimson Tide travel to Kentucky to battle the Wildcats on Nov. 11.

Jalen Milroe puts on a show: RJ Young reacts

T10. Caleb Williams, QB, USC, +8000

Williams did all he could to keep up with Penix and the high-scoring Huskies, but in the end, it wasn’t quite enough, as the Trojans fell, 52-42. Williams completed 27 of 35 passes for 312 yards and three touchdowns through the air, adding 16 yards and a score on the ground. Williams was seen sharing an emotional moment with his family after the loss, the Trojans’ third of the season.

Next: The Trojans take on Oregon on Nov. 11.

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