Heisman Watch: Penix on top (again) as Nix rises and Elliss, Martinez join the list of Pac-12 candidates

USC’s Caleb Williams drops after less-than-perfect showing at ASU

Hello, and welcome to our weekly look at the top players in the Pac-12 and who they think will win the Heisman Trophy. Think about this Heisman voter’s view of the world.

The rankings are based on how well each player did, how valuable they were to the team, and how tough the competition was. Also, yes, we do look at defensive players.

The people who have money on the winner say that Oregon’s Bo Nix is now in the top three candidates for the Heisman Trophy. It took four games, but it happened.

At the moment, Nix is the fourth most likely winner.

The fifth-year quarterback has odds of 10 to 1 to win the award at FanDuel and PointsBet, 12 to 1 at BetMGM and Caesars.

There are only three players whose odds are worse in either case: The odds for Washington quarterback Michael Penix and USC quarterback Caleb Williams are both 4 to 1. The odds for Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers are 6 to 1.

Nix was 20-to-1 a week ago, which was the third best odds for a winner.

He got noticed after a great game against Colorado, when he completed 28 out of 33 passes and scored four touchdowns, which helped the Ducks win by a huge margin.

It was Nix who was in the running for the Heisman Trophy last year as well, but his ankle injury and Oregon’s late losses to Washington and Oregon State ruined the season.

Nix should be in the running for the Heisman in New York City if the Ducks keep up their strong play as Pac-12 and College Football Playoff contenders.

Here are our rankings of the best players in the Pac-12…

1. Washington QB Michael Penix Jr.

Last week: 1

Key stats: 409 passing yards per game, 16 touchdown passes, 209.6 passer rating

Comment: It’s been another great week for the rocket-armed lefty. The Huskies beat Cal 59–32 thanks to Penix’s four touchdowns and 45 points in the first half. His passer rating is second in the country, and his yards per attempt (11.9) is tied for first. This may be the best way to measure how important a quarterback is. The number of touchdowns is even more impressive when you consider that the Huskies usually stop passing in the fourth quarter to avoid embarrassing the other team.

2. Oregon QB Bo Nix

Last week: 4

Key stats: 79.4 completion percentage, 11 touchdown passes, 1 interception

Cmment: Nix just played against one Heisman candidate, Colorado’s Shedeur Sanders. In two weeks, when the Ducks come to Washington for the most anticipated game between the two teams in a very long time, Nix will play against a second candidate. After a week, Nix will play Cam Ward of Washington State, who is also a Heisman candidate. Caleb Williams of USC is also a big deal in November.

3. Washington State QB Cam Ward

Last week: 5

Key stats: 13 touchdown passes, 0 interceptions, 74.5 completion percentage

Comment: When it comes to Ward, the former transfer from Incarnate Word is living up to the hype that surrounded his move from the FCS level in early 2022. Ward is playing better than any quarterback in the conference, but he isn’t as well known across the country as Penix, Nix, or Williams. Last weekend, he hit 28 out of 34 passes for 404 yards and four touchdowns in a 38–35 win over Oregon State.

4. USC QB Caleb Williams

Last week: 3

Key stats: 223.1 passer rating, 11.9 yards per attempt, 15 touchdown passes, 0 interceptions

Comment:It turns out Williams is real. The current Heisman winner may have had his worst game as a Trojan in USC’s shaky 42–28 win over Arizona State. Williams threw three touchdowns and ran for two more, but he also threw 11 incomplete passes. That’s the same number of passes he had in USC’s first three games this season. He also messed up a handoff to tailback MarShawn Lloyd. What a horror!

5. Colorado QB Shedeur Sanders

Last week: 2

Key stats: 76.9 completion percentage, 11 touchdown passes, 1 interception

Comment: Sanders goes where Colorado goes, and both the team and the player were blown out in Eugene. Sanders didn’t have much time to throw, and there weren’t many open receivers. He only gained 159 yards, and CU’s offensive line couldn’t handle Oregon’s front seven. (Not all of them have to be Colorado State.) At the same time, Sanders has a chance to get his Heisman momentum back this week against a USC defense that had a tough game against Arizona State’s third-string quarterback.

6. Washington WR Rome Odunze

Last week: 8

Key stats: 136 receiving yards per game, 161.3 all-purpose yards per game, 6 touchdowns

Comment: Odunze has proven himself to be the best player in the conference who isn’t one of the five quarterbacks above. He had another great game as a receiver last week, with two touchdowns. He also helped the Huskies beat Cal with an amazing 83-yard punt return touchdown early in the first quarter. In the country, Odunze is second in receiving yards per game and third in yards gained from all sources.

7. Utah DE Jonah Elliss

Last week: Not ranked

Key stats: 19 tackles, 8 tackles-for-loss, 5.5 sacks

Comment:Elliss was amazing last week against UCLA. He had five tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks in the fourth quarter to help secure the 14–7 win. He takes the place of safety Cole Bishop as Utah’s Heisman Watch representative. The defense is so good that it deserves to be there, but Bishop and linebacker Karene Reid could also make strong cases.

8. Colorado WR/CB Travis Hunter

Last week: 6

Key stats: 16 catches, 13.3 yards per catch, 9 tackles, 1 interception

Comment: Hunter was dirty and got knocked out of the Colorado State game. He will likely be out for a few weeks. He has a lot of ground to make up, but with all eyes on the Buffaloes and Hunter’s unique candidacy (as a two-way star), he might have the time and chance to get back on track.

9. Washington State edge Ron Stone Jr.

Last week: 7

Key stats: 20 tackles, 4 tackles-for-loss, 2 fumbles forced

Comment: Stone made four tackles and hurried the quarterback three times in the win over Oregon State. His totals for sacks and tackles for loss have stayed the same as opponents have come up with ways to protect Stone, which only makes room for his teammates to rush.

10. Oregon State TB Damien Martinez

Last week: Not ranked

Key stats: 108 yards per game, 7.6 yards per carry

Comment: It took some thought to include Martinez in earlier versions of the Heisman Watch, but we finally did it to include the best tailback in the conference. Martinez only gained 81 yards in the loss to WSU. It was the first time this season that he had less than 100 yards. He still leads the conference in rushing and is on track for a season with 1,300 yards. For a 3-star recruit who was only ranked 48th in his class as a tailback, that’s pretty good.

These numbers come from SportSource Analytics.

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