Heisman Watch: Ohio State QB CJ Stroud has massive opportunity ahead

For the rest of the college football season, Yahoo Sports will highlight the leading candidates for the Heisman Trophy on a weekly basis. All odds are via BetMGM.

Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud is creeping up the Heisman Trophy odds board at BetMGM, and he’s got a massive opportunity to make a huge impression on the voters in the two weeks ahead.

The Buckeyes improved to 9-1 overall and 7-0 in Big Ten play with a blowout win over Purdue on Saturday. Purdue had already pulled off upsets over Iowa and Michigan State this season, and Ohio State wasn’t going to allow itself to be the third.

The win was Ohio State’s eighth in a row and featured another strong performance from Stroud, who is now listed at +225 to win the Heisman at BetMGM. Only Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (+175) is listed ahead of Stroud.

Stroud completed 31-of-38 passes for 361 yards and five touchdowns in the 59-31 win. After making some shaky decisions a week earlier against Nebraska, Stroud looked as sharp as he has all season and easily carved up an overmatched Purdue defense.

Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud plays against Purdue during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud passes against Purdue on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

Ohio State was No. 4 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings (the new ones will be unveiled Tuesday night) and has a clear path into the four-team field. But it’s not an easy path. On Saturday, Ohio State hosts No. 7 Michigan State in Columbus before closing out the year against No. 6 Michigan.

If Ohio State wins those two games, it will wrap up the Big Ten East title and seal a trip to Indianapolis for the Big Ten championship game. From there, Stroud would have another big stage that could vault him to the top of the Heisman conversation and bring the Buckeyes back to the CFP.

(Below are the current betting favorites to win the Heisman Trophy. Odds courtesy of BetMGM.)

Alabama QB Bryce Young (+175)

Bryce Young remains the betting favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. Alabama has had some uneven performances this season, but Young continues to play well. New Mexico State was overmatched from the opening kickoff on Saturday, and Young was excellent in a 59-3 victory. Young completed 21-of-23 passes for 270 yards and five touchdowns. For the season, Young has thrown for 3,025 yards and 33 touchdowns with just three interceptions. He’s also completing 70.9% of his passes. If he keeps padding his stats and then can lead the Tide to a win over No. 1 Georgia in the SEC title game, the Heisman could belong to Young.

Ohio State QB CJ Stroud (+225)

After his performance in the win over Purdue, Stroud has topped 300 yards passing in three straight games. Overall, he has six 300-yard outings this season, including three games with at least 400 passing yards. For the season, Stroud has thrown for 3,036 yards, 30 touchdowns and five interceptions while completing 68.8% of his attempts. Stroud is 11th in the country in passing yards, one spot ahead of Young.

Michigan State RB Kenneth Walker III (+350)

Another week, another 100-yard effort from Kenneth Walker III. After putting up 143 yards and two touchdowns in a 40-21 win over Maryland, Walker increased his lead on the national rushing title. He leads the country with 1,473 yards and is tied with two others for first nationally with 17 rushing touchdowns. Walker is averaging 6.49 yards per rush on the year and has seven 100-yard rushing performances this season. With Ohio State next on the schedule, Walker has a big opportunity Saturday.

Michigan State's Kenneth Walker III (9) runs for a touchdown against Michigan during an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
Michigan State's Kenneth Walker III (9) runs for a touchdown against Michigan on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

Ole Miss QB Matt Corral (+700)

Ole Miss got a big win over Texas A&M on Saturday night to improve to 8-2 on the season. Matt Corral has been banged up in recent weeks but has battled through to help the Rebels continue with one of their better seasons in recent memory. Against the Aggies, Corral was 24-of-37 for 247 yards and a touchdown. He’s up to 2,774 yards and 17 touchdowns this season. His ankle injury has limited Corral as a runner in recent weeks, but he’s still got an impressive 523 yards and 10 TDs rushing this season.

Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett (+2500)

Kenny Pickett continues to put up big numbers for Pitt. The Panthers are in the driver’s seat in the ACC Coastal after beating North Carolina on Thursday night. In the win, Pickett threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime. Pickett has topped 300 yards in seven games this season after doing so just eight times in his previous four seasons. For the year, Pickett has thrown for 3,517 yards and 32 touchdowns with just four INTs. He is fifth nationally in passing yards and fourth in passing touchdowns.

Wake Forest QB Sam Hartman (+3500)

Like Pickett and Pitt in the ACC Coastal, Sam Hartman is one game away from leading Wake Forest to an ACC Atlantic title. The Demon Deacons improved to 9-1 with a 45-42 victory over NC State on Saturday, though it wasn’t the best performance from Hartman. He completed 20-of-47 passes for 290 yards and three touchdowns, but he also tossed three interceptions. Hartman has thrown for 3,163 yards, 30 touchdowns and eight INTs on the year.

Others on the radar

  • Ohio State RB TreVeyon Henderson (+4000)

  • Georgia DL Jordan Davis (+5000)

  • Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder (+5000)

  • Oklahoma QB Caleb Williams (+5000)

  • Alabama LB Will Anderson Jr. (+8000)

  • Alabama RB Brian Robinson (+8000)