Ranking the Top 10 Heisman Trophy Contenders Following Week 3


Ranking the Top 10 Heisman Trophy Contenders Following Week 3

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This season’s Heisman race revolves primarily around the quarterbacks. There are no running backs within 10,000 yards of the race, and it’s challenging to identify a superstar wide receiver realistically in contention for the Heisman.

(For reference, Notre Dame’s Audric Estime currently leads the nation with 521 rushing yards, but he’s had four games to accumulate those numbers. Appalachian State’s Nate Noel is the leader in yards per game, averaging an impressive 151 per game.)

As we enter the showdown phase of the season, Pac-12 stars and high-profile matchups across the country will determine the frontrunners. It’s not enough to produce big numbers on lesser-watched platforms; Heisman contenders must shine when the spotlight is on them.

This is not a prediction of the Heisman winner, nor is it an endorsement of deserving candidates. It’s a snapshot of how Heisman voting might look if the season ended today.

Week 3 Heisman Trophy Candidates (Last week’s ranking in parentheses):

Dropped: Travis Hunter, CB/WR, Colorado (6)

On The Radar: Drew Allar, QB Penn State (10); DJ Uiagalelei, QB Oregon State (NR); Dillon Gabriel, QB Oklahoma (NR); Bo Nix, QB Oregon

10. Riley Leonard, QB Duke (7): Riley Leonard’s strong start against Clemson in Week 1 caught our attention, but subsequent games against Lafayette and Northwestern, where he threw for 530 yards, one touchdown, and rushed for three scores, pushed him out of the limelight temporarily. Can he reclaim his Heisman prospects against UConn?

9. JJ McCarthy, QB Michigan (8): JJ McCarthy, once the most accurate quarterback in the nation, saw his Heisman chances dip slightly after throwing three interceptions against Bowling Green. He’s now trailing Oklahoma’s Dillon Gabriel by a narrow margin and needs to build up his stats to reassert his candidacy. Next up: Rutgers.

8. Jayden Daniels, QB LSU (NR): Jayden Daniels has been quietly impressive, completing 30-of-34 passes for 361 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 64 yards and two scores in a win over Mississippi State. With stellar stats (74%, 8 TDs, 1 INT), he’s one to watch in SEC play, especially ahead of the November 4th showdown with Alabama. Next up: Arkansas.

7. Jordan Travis, QB Florida State (4): Jordan Travis’s 222 yards and two touchdowns against Boston College were commendable but not enough to maintain his Heisman momentum. However, everyone saw his stellar performance against LSU, and he faces a crucial game this week that could define his candidacy against Clemson.

6. Drake Maye, QB North Carolina (NR): Drake Maye boasts a 73% completion rate and a 414-yard game against Minnesota, but four touchdown passes and four interceptions on the season don’t inspire complete confidence. He’s on this list based on our current snapshot of Heisman candidates, but he’ll need more impressive performances to solidify his position. Next up: Pitt.

5. Sam Hartman, QB Notre Dame (5): Sam Hartman has been perfect so far, with 13 touchdown passes, no interceptions, and nearly 15 yards per attempt. He faces a crucial test this week as the Buckeyes come to town, potentially catapulting his Heisman campaign into hyperdrive. Next up: Ohio State.

4. Quinn Ewers, QB Texas (3): Quinn Ewers’s performance against Alabama, even during a rough 11-of-21, 131-yard, two-touchdown game against Wyoming, still resonates. The upcoming game against Oklahoma could be a pivotal moment in his Heisman race. Next up: Baylor.

3. Michael Penix Jr., QB Washington (8): Michael Penix Jr. is averaging an impressive 444 passing yards per game, outpacing Shedeur Sanders by 27 yards per game and Cameron Ward of Washington State by 110 yards per game. Although his showdown against Michigan State was overshadowed, he’ll have numerous opportunities to shine in Pac-12 play. Next up: Cal.

2. Caleb Williams, QB USC (2): Caleb Williams, despite a week off, maintains a substantial lead in quarterback rating and continues to garner attention with his impressive performances. The upcoming game against Arizona State is crucial to sustaining his Heisman hype. Next up: at Arizona State.

1. Shedeur Sanders, QB Colorado (1): Shedeur Sanders demonstrated true Heisman potential with a remarkable comeback against Colorado State. Down eight points with 98 yards to go, Sanders orchestrated a series of scoring plays, including a 45-yard touchdown pass and two overtime touchdowns, to secure the win. However, his Heisman candidacy may face resistance due to perceptions about Colorado. Regardless, upcoming games against Oregon and USC provide opportunities to solidify his status. Next up: at Oregon.

For more college football coverage, including Week 3 Roundup, Bowl Projections, CFP Predictions, Scoreboard, Rankings, and CFP Chase updates, visit Pete Fiutak on X and CFN on X. Follow College Football News on Facebook for the latest updates.



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