2023 Heisman Watch: Caleb Williams, Michael Penix Jr. shine bright in Week 1

2023 Heisman Watch: Caleb Williams, Michael Penix Jr. shine bright in Week 1

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It’s never too early to take a look at the Heisman Trophy race, especially following a Week 1 slate that was filled with plenty of jaw-dropping individual performances.

USC QB Caleb Williams was back in action Saturday after putting up some impressive numbers in a Week 0 win over San Jose State. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner was outstanding once again on Saturday, throwing for five scores in USC’s 66-14 victory over Nevada.

LSU‘s Jayden Daniels, who entered the week with the second-best odds to take home college football’s top individual award this season, is set to take the field Sunday night in a top-10 showdown between his No. 5 Tigers and No. 8 Florida State.

Seven of the top 10 Heisman contenders were in action on Saturday. Let’s take a look at how they did and how that could shake up the odds next week.

1. Caleb Williams, QB, USC: +475

As good as Williams was in USC’s Week 0 win over San Jose State, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner was even more impressive on Saturday in the No. 6 Trojans’ victory over Nevada. Williams made highlight play after highlight play, picking apart Nevada’s defense for 319 yards and five touchdowns. Williams also added 42 yards on the ground in the win. Williams has played in 16 total games now at USC and has five touchdowns in six of those games.

Next: Williams and the Trojans host Stanford on Sept. 9.

Can USC’s Caleb Williams repeat as Heisman?

Brady Quinn and Matt Leinart discussed USC’s Caleb Williams potentially winning back-to-back Heismans.

2. Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU: +1000

No. 5 LSU opens its season on Sunday night against No. 8 Florida State

3. Jordan Travis, QB, Florida State: +1200

No. 8 Florida State opens its season on Sunday night against No. 5 LSU 

4. Quinn Ewers, QB, Texas: +1200

Ewers and the Longhorns once again enter the season with big expectations, and they lived up to those expectations with an impressive 37-10 win over Rice on Saturday. Ewers, who started 10 games under center for the Longhorns last season, looked poised in his 2023 debut, completing 19 of 30 passes for 260 yards and three touchdowns. The redshirt sophomore also added a rushing touchdown in the win. He will face a big test next week when the Longhorns take on No. 4 Alabama.

Next: Ewers and the Longhorns travel to Tuscaloosa to battle No. 4 Alabama on Sept. 9.

Texas’ Quinn Ewers connects with Adonai Mitchell

Texas QB Quinn Ewers connected with Adonai Mitchell to give the Longhorns a 23-3 lead over Rice

T5. Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington: +1400

Penix kicked off his Heisman Trophy campaign with a dominant performance in Washington’s 56-19 win over Boise State. The left-handed signal-caller completed 29 of 40 passes for an eye-popping 450 yards and five touchdowns in the win. Penix’s five TD passes matched a careerhigh, with four of them coming in the second quarter. He was one TD pass shy of Washington’s school record of six, which was set by Jake Browning in 2016.

Next: Penix and the Huskies host Tulsa on Sept. 9.

T5. Cade Klubnik, QB, Clemson: +1400

No. 9 Clemson opens its season on Monday night against Duke.

T7. Sam Hartman, QB, Notre Dame: +1600

Following an impressive outing in Notre Dame’s season-opening win over Navy in Week 0, Hartman looked poised and in control once again on Saturday, leading the Fighting Irish to a 56-3 win over Tennessee State. Hartman, who transferred to Notre Dame after spending the last five years at Wake Forest, connected on 14 of 17 passes for 194 yards and two passing touchdowns, while also adding 14 yards and a score on the ground. The former Wake Forest QB is showing why he was such a coveted transfer this offseason.

Next: Hartman will have a chance to make a huge statement as the Fighting Irish play at NC State on Sept. 9.

T7. Bo Nix, QB, Oregon: +1600

Nix enjoyed a career year in 2022, throwing for more than 3,500 yards and 29 touchdowns while leading the Ducks to a 10-3 record. On Saturday, the talented senior QB picked up right where he left off, completing 23 of 27 passes for 287 yards and three touchdowns in Oregon’s record-setting 81-7 blowout victory over Portland State. After leading the Ducks to a 57-7 lead early in the third quarter, Nix gave way to backup QB Ty Thompson. Oregon’s 81 points marked the highest point total scored by the Ducks in a game in the modern era.

Next: Nix and the Ducks travel to Lubbock, Texas to take on Texas Tech on Sept. 9.

T7. J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan: +1600

McCarthy showed up in warmups wearing a “FREE HARBAUGH” shirt in order to let Michigan’s head coach know his players were thinking about him as he serves a school-imposed, three-game suspension. The junior signal-caller made his coach proud as he completed 26 of 30 passes for 280 yards and three touchdowns in Michigan’s dominant 30-3 season-opening victory over East Carolina.

McCarthy was accurate and efficient throughout the game, completing 15 passes in a row at one point in the opening half. All three of his touchdown passes went to senior wide receiver Roman Wilson, who finished the day with six catches for 78 yards. 

Next: McCarthy and the Wolverines host UNLV on Sept. 9.

RJ Young breaks down Michigan, Ohio State’s Week 1 victory

RJ Young breaks down Michigan and Ohio State’s Week 1 wins and discusses what went right for both teams.

10. Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina: +1800

Maye looked like an NFL-ready quarterback on Saturday in North Carolina’s impressive 31-17 win over South Carolina. The Heisman hopeful signal-caller completed 24 of 32 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns in the victory. Maye did throw a pair of interceptions in the final 18 minutes of the game as the Tar Heels were looking to put away the Gamecocks. However, in a battle between two of the top QBs in the nation in Maye and South Carolina’s Spencer Rattler, it was Maye who looked like a future NFL star.

Next: Maye and the Tar Heels host Appalachian State on Sept. 9.



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About the Author

Marie Maynes
Marie Maynes is a Sports enthusiast and writes for the Sports section of ANH.