We are now six weeks into the 2023 college football season. As the schedule gets tougher and the season grind gets harder, a few teams and players have begun to shine the brightest. With some of the big names taking center stage, it’s worth thinking about who are the 2023 Heisman trophy candidates to this point?

Every week there is one particular game that is the main event. Yes, there’s the campus that ESPN College GameDay chooses to go to. Then, there’s the ABC primetime game. However, while the television sets are fixated on these premier national programs, there are some players who are quietly cooking.

In December, four players will make it to New York City as the selected finalists for the Heisman Trophy. Earlier this week, Fox Sports released their Heisman watch. Here, they list the top 10 players who are realistically in contention after five games.

“USC QB Caleb Williams continued his incredible start to the season, as the defending Heisman Trophy winner looks to become just the second player to win the award twice,” Fox Sports states.

Last Year’s Heisman Winner

The aforementioned USC Trojans quarterback, Caleb Williams remains the frontrunner, because in order to be the best you have to beat the best. Going into the season, it was fair to pencil in Williams as a top candidate to take home this year’s trophy (and to be the #1 draft pick).

Like the NFL MVP award, traditionally, the Heisman Trophy is often awarded to a quarterback. In fact, only three non-quarterbacks have won the award since 2000 (Mark Ingram, Derrick Henry,  DeVonta Smith).

This year, it appears that will likely continue. With a few big rivalry games this weekend in addition to a handful of heavy-weight conference matchups, let’s take a look at seven 2023 Heisman Trophy hopefuls who are candidates who are making strong cases for themselves to take home the trophy.

  • Michael Penix Jr. - Washington

    The left-handed quarterback from Tampa, Florida has come out swinging. Through the season’s first five games, Penix Jr. has led the Huskies to a 5-0 start. Currently, #9 has 16 touchdowns, and has passed for 1,999 yards. His QBR is an astounding 91.6. With a bye this week, all eyes are on October 14 when #7 Washington takes on #8 Oregon. The challenge only increases after that, with matchups against highly ranked (and conference rivals) USC, Utah, and Washington State still to come.

     

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    A post shared by Mike Penix Jr 🗣 (@themp9)

  • Bo Nix - Oregon

    Speaking of Oregon, #10 on the #8 ranked team in the country is lighting things up on the field. Nix has thrown 15 touchdowns to just one interception, cruising Oregon to a 5-0 start. He had one of his best games when everyone was watching, against Colorado. Under head coach Dan Lanning’s leadership, Nix has certainly taken advantage of quarterbacking his second major program (he was with Auburn from 2019-2021). His relentless approach is an intangible that the Ducks rally around. Furthermore, though Oregon is always a credible program, I’m not sure anyone expected this hot of a start from the Ducks or Nix.

     

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    A post shared by Bo Nix (@bonix10)

  • Caleb Williams - USC

    Last year’s winner will not let go of the Heisman easily. Williams, a D.C. native, had one of the more inspiring acceptance speeches you will ever hear at the 2022 ceremony. Currently, Williams has an amazing 21 touchdowns and just one interception through five games. #9 USC also took their show on the road to square off against Shedeur and Deion Sanders in Colorado. Like Nix, Williams stole the spotlight, reminding those who forgot, who won the acclaimed prize last year. Note, to this point each selection is not only a quarterback, but also leading an undefeated Pac-12 team.

     

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    A post shared by CALEB WILLIAMS (@ayeeecaleb)

  • Drake Maye - UNC

    OK, now we will change conferences, but will remain with a quarterback. Maye and Nix ended the 2022 season against each other in a Holiday Bowl thriller, where Oregon won 28-27. Nix had 205 yards passing, but Maye had 206. Though #14 North Carolina is also undefeated (4-0) to this point, Maye has the lowest numbers of this bunch. So, why is he listed here? Well, he is the player I expect to have the biggest second-half numbers. Maye and UNC don’t have to face the amount of top-ranked teams the Pac-12 schools do. That’s the downside of that conference being so strong this year. UNC only has two ranked opponents on their schedule for the remainder of the regular season. Miami on October 14, and Duke on November 11. Both games are at home.

     

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    A post shared by Drake Maye (@drake.maye)

  • The Wildcards

    Here is where I throw a hail mary, so to speak. Odds are, these next three players don’t have much of a chance, but where there’s a will there’s a way. I’ll start by staying at quarterback one more time. Jordan Travis who is a Florida native (West Palm Beach) has led #5 Florida State to an impressive 4-0. He has thrown for over 1,000 yards, has ten touchdowns, and can run. How about one of the best overall players in college football? That would be #1 Georgia’s tight end, Brock Bowers. He’s expected the be a top ranked draft pick and has already caught 30 passes for three touchdowns for the defending back-to-back champion Bulldogs. Lastly, can defense get some love? Probably not, but there’s no harm in an honorable mention. Another Florida native makes an appearance here with Alabama’s Dallas Turner. Hailing from Fort Lauderdale, this edge defender already has 5.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.

     

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    A post shared by Dallas Turner (@nolimitdall)

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