It’s only Week Two of the college football season, but the Heisman race is starting to take shape. For some, it’s the same as it ever was. Quarterbacks run the table in our poll this week, led by last year’s Heisman winner Caleb Williams.
But for some, there are a couple of big changes on the landscape. Colorado continues to impress the college football world and Texas might — maybe, possibly, could be — back after a strong win against Alabama in Tuscaloosa last Saturday.
2023 LWOCFB Heisman Rankings Week Two
Week Two was shaped by the stasis of the Pac-12 quarterbacks and the splash of the Texas win, with Florida State’s Jordan Travis sandwiched between those two competing forces. It’s still early, but the race is definitely shaping up.
Here are the five top vote-getters from our panel of 15 voters.
1. Caleb Williams, USC (71) [Previous: (1) (71)]
The reigning Heisman winner and odds-on favorite had another stellar outing last Saturday. Williams’ Trojans dominated Stanford, 56-10. Williams only had 281 yards but tallied three touchdowns and was a ridiculous 19-for-21 (90.5%) with a 98.3 QB rating.
That gives Williams 12 total touchdowns with no interceptions on the season. Williams and the Trojans get Arizona State next, so there’s no reason why the USC signal caller shouldn’t have another big game on Saturday. It’s still early, but Williams has a strong hold on the Heisman race thus far.
2. Shedur Sanders, Colorado (44) [Previous: Not Ranked (17)]
A week after teammate Travis Hunter entered our top five, Colorado quarterback Shedur Sanders enters the Last Word Heisman poll at second. Sanders torched Nebraska for 393 yards on 31-for-42 passing and added one rushing touchdown to his two passing touchdowns.
Sanders’ overall touchdown numbers don’t compare to Williams’, but he’ll have a chance to go one-on-one with the front-runner later in the season. The Buffaloes host a very mediocre Colorado State this weekend, so expect Sanders to stay in the top five of our poll for at least one more week.
3. Michael Penix, Jr., Washington (41) [Previous: (2) (45)]
Michael Penix, Jr. makes it three-for-three for Pac-12 quarterbacks in our Top Three. The Huskies quarterback had his second consecutive 400-yard game against Tulsa this weekend. He added three more touchdowns and is averaging 430 yards and four touchdowns a game early in the season.
While Penix doesn’t have the marketing and hype machine of Williams nor the media attention of Sanders, he does have the talent and consistency to stay in this Heisman race for an entire season. It’s hard for a third-ranked player to be a Heisman dark horse candidate, but Penix fits the bill perfectly. Fans would be wise to tune in this week and watch as Penix gets a prime-time audience taking on a scandal-ridden Michigan State program in East Lansing.
4. Jordan Travis, FSU (33) [Previous: (5th) (36)]
Florida State’s Jordan Travis had a pedestrian outing last Saturday against Southern Mississippi but still finds himself in the Top Five of our poll. Travis went 15-29 (51.7%) with only 175 yards and two touchdowns.
Heisman hopefuls can have down games, especially a week after dismantling someone like LSU, but with the West Coast quarterbacks blowing bulbs every week, Travis cannot afford another performance like this. The Seminoles open their conference slate at Boston College this Saturday, so he’ll get his chance to get back on track.
5. Quinn Ewers, Texas (15) [Previous: Not Ranked (0)]
Nothing like beating Alabama to boost your Heisman resume. It worked for Johnny Manziel and Joe Burrow, and it has Quinn Ewers cracking our Top Five for the first time this season. Ewers put up 349 yards and three touchdowns against the Fighting Sabans. His overall numbers on the season don’t quite match up to the Pac-12 quarterbacks on this list, but beating Alabama in Tuscaloosa makes up for a lot of statistical deficiencies.
Ewers makes it five-for-five for quarterbacks on our list. He’ll get a chance to pad those stats as Wyoming rides into Austin on Saturday and tries to buck the Longhorns hot start. Nothing like watching Cowboys trying to tame some cattle — and a Heisman hopeful — on the gridiron.
Others Receiving Heisman Rankings Votes:
Travis Hunter, Colorado (12), Sam Hartman, Notre Dame (5), Drake Maye, North Carolina (3), Bo Nix, Oregon (2), Brock Bowers, Georgia (2).
Photo courtesy: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports