As the college football season approaches its midpoint, some observations become crystal clear. The top teams appear to be Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, Texas, Florida State and USC. Teams like Penn State and Washington could possibly join the fray, depending how the teams that rank above them perform in the upcoming weeks. When it comes to the top players in the game and those contending for the Heisman Trophy, there are a number of candidates who could challenge Caleb Williams.
Williams, of course, is the USC quarterback who won the Heisman Trophy last year. If Williams has his way, he will become the first college football player to join former Ohio State star Archie Griffin as the only player in the history of the sport to win the Heisman Trophy twice. Griffin was a superstar running back for the Buckeyes and he won the Heisman in 1974 and '75.
In this piece we offer our power rankings of the top 4 candidates for the award this season.
4. Wide receiver Marvin Harrison, Ohio State, Heisman candidate
Harrison is very likely the best receivers in the nation, and while his numbers are not spectacular to this point, they are likely to get much better with each game the Buckeyes play from this point forward.
The 6-4 wideout has already caught 17 passes for 336 yards and 3 touchdowns. While he suffered a sprained ankle in the Week 4 victory over Notre Dame, he stayed in the game and did not miss a play. Harrison has shown a remarkable desire to help his team on every snap of the ball.
He caught a pass on the first play of the next drive. He was targeted seven times overall by quarterback Kyle McCord, but finished with 32 yards on three receptions. Notre Dame double covered Harrison throughout the game, and combined with the injury, that slowed him down.
Since Ohio State had Week 5 off, he is likely to come back much healthier than he finished the Notre Dame game.
The other factor working in Harrison's favor is that McCord should be more comfortable as the season progresses. He made his first start in the season opener, and while he struggled early on, he looks like a more competent quarterback now than he was at the start of September.
3. Quarterback Michael Penix Jr., Washington, Heisman candidate
The Huskies are clearly one of the best teams in college football, and they know that every time Penix takes the field, he is capable of lighting up the scoreboard.
He is a remarkably powerful thrower, and his strong left arm is also extremely accurate. Going into Saturday night's game against Arizona, Penix had pristine stats that are difficult to ignore.
Penix has completed 103 of 138 passes for 1,636 yards with 16 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. More than the statistics, there is a riveting confidence about Penix when it comes to position play.
As he takes his position behind center or in the shotgun, he reads the defense like a seasoned professional quarterback. He does an outstanding job of figuring out the strengths and weaknesses of the defense and understanding where he should attack and which players he should avoid.
Penix is a 6-3, 213-pound senior, and he appears to have a great future as a professional quarterback as well as being one of the best in college football.
2. J.J. McCarthy, Michigan, Heisman candidate
The Wolverines look like they should dominate the competition throughout the college football season and they may be undefeated when they take the field in the regular-season finale against Ohio State. Michigan has been successful against the Buckeyes the last 2 years after a long run of success by the Buckeyes, and football fans can be sure that McCarthy will be ready for that game once again.
Michigan went on the road Saturday and rolled to a 45-7 road triumph over the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The Wolverines simply had too many weapons for the Cornhuskers, and McCarthy did his part by completing 12 of 16 passes for 156 yard with 2 TDs and no interceptions.
McCarthy also added a rushing touchdown, and he has the kind of athletic ability that makes him a threat as a runner or a passer. He has completed 83 of 105 passes for 1,086 yards with 10 TDs and 3 interceptions for the season.
1. Quarterback Caleb Williams, USC, Heisman favorite
The defending Heisman Trophy winner has even better stats this year than he did a year ago. So far this season, Williams has thrown for 1,603 yards with a 21 to 1 touchdown to interception ration.
He had a notable game Saturday against the Colorado Buffaloes as he completed 30 of 40 asses for 403 yards and a career-high 6 touchdowns in the Trojans 48-41 triumph
Williams put on a highlight-reel performance in the first half when he completed 17 of 20 passes and threw a cross-body TD pass to Tahj Washington.
Williams has shown he can make every throw in the book and he is the odds-on favorite to be the No. 1 picks in next spring's NFL Draft.