It is important to note this at the outset.
Neither JP Acosta nor myself have an actual Heisman vote.
In my case, that is probably a good thing. But it is just a matter of time until JP is voting on the Heisman. After all, had you listened to him earlier this season, you would have known that Kansas football is fun again, and you would have known that before the rest of your friends.
And let’s face it, dropping knowledge like that on your buddies is a good thing.
But until JP has an official Heisman ballot, we are going to do our Heisman voting here at SB Nation. Every two weeks, JP and I will drop our “in-the-moment” ballot just as the Heisman voters do, ranking three players worthy of college football’s greatest honor. We will also add some players worthy of consideration, so we can highlight some of the best athletes in the sport each week.
Without further ado, here is the first installment of the Unofficial Official SB Nation Biweekly Heisman Ballot.
(We are still workshopping the final name).
JP Acosta’s Ballot:
First Place Vote: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
I wanted to go with USC’s Caleb Williams here, but Stroud not only has the raw numbers, but the advanced statistics to be in the lead for the Heisman trophy in the early portion of the season. So far, Stroud is second in the entire nation in total EPA and has a positive play percentage of 57%. Stack that on top of leading the nation in touchdowns and only throwing one interception thus far.
If you’re looking for Heisman moments, look no further than his evisceration of the Wisconsin Badgers, who have a very stout defense. Stroud simply threw for five touchdowns in a 52-21 rout. That’s a Heisman performance.
Second Place Vote: Caleb Williams, QB, USC
I know it’s very cool and chic to hate USC, I do too. But Caleb Williams has been one of the best playmakers and passers in the entire nation so far. USC is undefeated, with their offense being the primary engine. Williams has been at the head of that engine, throwing for eight touchdowns and running for two more as the Trojans blast teams off the face of the Earth offensively. The standout performance for Williams so far was against Stanford, when Williams threw for four TDs in a 41-28 romp. If USC continues to win and put up video game numbers, we’ll see Williams in New York City.
Third Place Vote: Bryce Young
It’s extremely hard to go back to back in winning the Heisman trophy, but if anyone can do it, it’s Young. He’s thrown for 1,029 yards on a 68.6% clip to go with 13 touchdowns, but the argument for Young is based on overall value to a team. This Alabama team hasn’t been as dominant on the outside at receiver as previous years, and many games will be on Young to make something out of nothing.
No better example of this than Alabama’s win against Texas in Austin. Young led the team to a go-ahead drive, ducking and dodging defenders like he was Neo in the Matrix and making plays within and outside of structure. Those moments will be what wins him the trophy for a second time.
Other players considered: Kansas QB Jalon Daniels, Georgia TE Brock Bowers, Washington QB Michael Penix Jr., Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker
Allow me to make the argument for one Jalon Daniels, Kansas QB. If we’re talking overall value, Daniels has just as much of an argument as Bryce Young. Daniels is seventh in the entire nation in passing efficiency, third in total EPA, and has led the KANSAS JAYHAWKS to an UNDEFEATED 4-0. They’ve won more games this year than in the previous two years combined. Daniels has been the point man for the Jayhawks offense, which is good and fun.
If Kansas keeps this up, we’ll have no choice but to bow down to our overlords Jalon Daniels and Kansas football.
The reason I put Bowers here instead of his QB Stetson Bennett is simple: Bennett is simply keeping the car from careening into a ditch. Bowers is the engine. Bowers has caught two touchdowns this season and RUN for three.
Mind you: he is a tight end and has the same amount of rushing TDs as Kansas State RB Deuce Vaughn.
That is PREPOSTEROUS.
It’s extremely difficult for any tight end to win the Heisman due to overall QB value, but Bowers might be the most valuable player in the country.
Mark Schofield’s Ballot:
First Place Vote: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Despite a slow start this season, as he threw just a pair of touchdowns in the season-opening win over Notre Dame, Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud has caught fire the past two weeks, living up to the preseason expectations. In the Buckeye’s win over Wisconsin last Saturday, Stroud hit on 17 of 27 passes for 281 yards and 5 touchdowns, along with an interception. On the year, Stroud has completed 70.5% of his throws for 1,222 yards, 16 touchdowns, and just a single interception.
Not too shabby.
Second Place Vote: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Stroud was not the only quarterback facing high expectations entering the season. Last year’s Heisman winner, Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, also entered the 2022 campaign with the burden of high hopes. Young bounced back from a two-interception performance against ULM with a near flawless game against Vanderbilt, completing 25 of 36 passes for 385 yards and 4 touchdowns in Alabama’s blowout win.
Third Place Vote: Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee
It might be time to pay attention to Tennessee, and quarterback Hendon Hooker. The quarterback has been near-flawless this season, completing 71.7% of his throws for 1,193 yards and 8 touchdowns, without an interception. In the Volunteers’ 38-33 win over Florida on Saturday, Hooker completed 22 of 28 passes for 349 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Other players considered: Will Anderson Jr., LB, Alabama, Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington, Caleb Williams, QB, USC, Jalon Daniels, QB, Kansas
Two other quarterbacks we have loved so far this year are Penix from Washington and Daniels from Kansas. Both their teams are undefeated, and while the Huskies are climbing in the rankings, the Jayhawks remain unranked.
USC survived this past weekend against Oregon State, but similar to Hooker, Williams has been almost perfect on the season. The USC passer has completed 65.6% of his throws for 1,054 yards and 9 touchdowns, without an interception. With the Trojans checking in at No. 6 in the latest AP Top 25, expect Williams to get a lot of consideration if that continues.
Then there is Anderson, a force off the edge for the Trojans. As someone who argued he should have been invited to the ceremony last year, he remains in the mix for me.
Yes, this ballot looks pretty chalky right now, but as conference schedules start to heat up, things could change in a hurry.