Don’t look now, but the top-3 players in ESPN’s latest Heisman Watch either play for the Ohio State Buckeyes or used to do so. That’s the type of talent in and around Columbus over the years. With the regular season concluding this weekend in college football, teams are not only fighting for a spot in the College Football Playoff or a bowl, but individual players are also continuing to impress as well. While the national championship trophy is obviously the most important, the Heisman Trophy is the most prestigious individual award in college football and players continue to rack up the stats and dominate in their own respective ways to gain the eyes of the voters as a whole, all while helping their team.
While former Buckeye and current LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is the favorite to win the Heisman, Ohio State defensive end Chase Young and quarterback Justin Fields are on his heels and not making it easy. It’s not a surprise given that the Buckeyes and Tigers are the No. 1- and No. 2-ranked teams in the country, respectively.
Young is the most dominant player in college football. It really isn’t even an argument or up for debate. While he has dominated all season, the star has stepped up when it has mattered most. In his last two games — against Wisconsin and Penn State, Ohio State’s two toughest opponents so far this season — the defensive end has racked up 15 tackles, seven sacks, and nine tackles for loss. In his return from suspension, Young totaled nine total tackles, four tackles for loss, three sacks and two forced fumbles. Not only did he break Ohio State’s single-season sack record,1 but with his dominant performance, Young was named the Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the week. Even though he has dominated all season, Young is playing the best football of his career in Ohio State’s biggest games, which tells you all you need to know about how good he truly is.
Before the suspension, he was the second-ranked player in the Heisman Watch. He dropped to No. 5 last week and is back to No. 2 after his dominant performance while helping Ohio State beat Penn State.
Notable: Young returned from a two-game suspension for an NCAA rules violation and picked up where he left off, setting Ohio State’s single-season sacks record. Against Penn State, Young’s three sacks gave him 16.5 — the school record. That mark is also the fourth-most in Big Ten history.
Quotable: “I was itching to get back on the field, just not being on there for two weeks. I just tried to give it all I had today, and we won the game, and that’s all we care about.” — Young
It’s tough enough for a defensive player to win the Heisman. Since the award debuted in 1935, just one defensive player has won the Heisman Trophy: CB Charles Woodson. Although the award states that it “recognizes the outstanding college football player”, it might as well say “recognizes the outstanding offensive college football player”. Suspended for two games this season, that makes things even tougher for the Young to win the award even if he is the most dominant player in college football.
Big-time players much big-time plays in big-time games. That’s exactly what Young has done so far this season and college football coaches, reporters, and fans alike have taken notice.
Not to be outdone by the most dominant player in college football, Fields has continued to play well too, especially in Ohio State’s biggest games. While helping the Buckeyes beat Penn State, the quarterback once again impressed with both his arm and his legs. Fields’ playmaking ability is truly impressive.
Notable: Fields helped lead the Buckeyes to a win over No. 9 Penn State on Saturday, throwing for 188 yards and two TDs. He also rushed for 68 yards on 21 carries — but also had two fumbles.
Quotable: “He’s a warrior, I’m telling you,” OSU head coach Ryan Day said. “He’s got the heart of a lion.”
The fact that Ohio State has two of the top-three candidates in the Heisman Trophy race is quite a feat. It’s incredible, to say the least, especially considering one is a defensive end. Now, they just need to continue to play well, beat their archrival and win the Big Ten championship, then it’s time for the Playoff if they do in fact win their next two games.
Bovada‘s top Heisman odds:
Some key things to notice in the odds: