Heisman Watch: Should TCU’s Max Duggan be getting more attention?

For the rest of the college football season, Yahoo Sports will highlight the leading candidates for the Heisman Trophy on a weekly basis. All odds are via BetMGM.

When the first College Football Playoff rankings of the season are unveiled Tuesday night, TCU will be prominently featured.

The Horned Frogs are currently 8-0, ranked No. 7 in the AP poll and could end up with a higher ranking in the eyes of the CFP selection committee. On the heels of several mediocre seasons under Gary Patterson, it’s been a remarkable run to start their first season under head coach Sonny Dykes.

And Max Duggan has been at the center of it all.

Despite multiple seasons of starting experience, Duggan wasn’t even the starting quarterback when the year began. Dykes went with Chandler Morris, who showed flashes late in 2021 when Duggan was banged up. But when Morris was injured in Week 1, Duggan stepped in and has performed excellently on a weekly basis ever since.

Duggan has thrown for 2,212 yards and 22 touchdowns with just two interceptions while completing 67.4% of his attempts. Duggan, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior, also has 276 yards and four scores on the ground. Along the way, Duggan has topped the 300-yard mark four times, including in Saturday’s win over West Virginia. Duggan wasn’t at his sharpest in the 41-31 victory, but he continued to show his precision on the deep ball as he tossed touchdown passes of 71, 55 and 29 yards.

Duggan has played a lot of snaps over his four years at TCU, but he already has career highs in passing yards and touchdowns. And he has the chance to lead the Horned Frogs to new heights.

TCU has never won an outright Big 12 title since it joined the conference in 2012, nor has it clinched a spot in the College Football Playoff. Through eight games, there’s a legitimate path to both, putting Duggan firmly in the Heisman conversation and in a position to continually boost his stock.

Duggan currently has the seventh-best odds to win the Heisman as he’s listed at +3000 at BetMGM. TCU had a Week 3 bye, so it’s in the midst of a brutal stretch that won’t let up. This week, the Horned Frogs host Texas Tech before back-to-back road games vs. Texas and Baylor and a regular season-ending visit from Iowa State. TCU is already the favorite to win the Big 12, but it’s also got a challenging, but navigable path to a playoff berth.

If TCU can pull that off, Duggan is going to be in a strong position for a trip to New York City for the Heisman ceremony.

TCU quarterback Max Duggan (15) passes against West Virginia during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Morgantown, W.Va., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Kathleen Batten)
TCU quarterback Max Duggan (15) passes against West Virginia during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Morgantown, W.Va., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Kathleen Batten)

Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker (+100)

There’s a new Heisman front-runner. After being listed at +200 a week ago, Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker is now the betting favorite at BetMGM with +100 odds. Hooker leap-frogged Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud in the aftermath of Tennessee’s 44-6 beatdown of Kentucky on Saturday night.

Hooker threw for 245 yards and three touchdowns and added a rushing TD in the win — a win that sets up a mammoth showdown with Georgia. UGA, the defending national champion, is ranked No. 1 while Tennessee is tied with Ohio State at No. 2 in the AP poll. The implications on Saturday in Athens are massive.

The winner will move to the top of the SEC East standings, be in a great position to get to the SEC title game and receive a tremendous boost to its CFP resume. It’s also an opportunity for Hooker to make an impression on Heisman voters. If he can lead the Vols to a victory in Athens on such a huge stage, he will become an even bigger favorite to win college football’s most-coveted award.

Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud (+175)

Stroud was a -125 favorite last week but took a bit of a step back even after helping Ohio State come from behind to beat Penn State on Saturday. Stroud wasn’t at his sharpest, but he made several important throws down the stretch to help the Buckeyes escape Happy Valley with a victory.

Stroud had some struggles in the first half but still managed to go 26-of-33 for 354 yards and a touchdown. That’s how high of a standard Stroud has set and how explosive the Ohio State offense has been this season. A statistical output like that can seem a bit underwhelming.

Nonetheless, Stroud is up to 2,377 yards and 29 touchdowns while averaging 10.7 yards per attempt this season. While his yardage output ranks No. 12 nationally, he is tied for first in touchdown passes (with Drake Maye) and yards per attempt (with Hooker).

USC QB Caleb Williams (+1400)

After a one-point loss at Utah and a bye week, USC was back on the field at Arizona on Saturday night. Caleb Williams and the Trojans’ offense were ready to play. Williams posted a career high 411 yards and tied a season high with five touchdowns in a 45-37 win.

It was the third time in four games that Williams threw for more than 300 yards and had at least three touchdown passes. For the season, he has thrown for 2,382 yards and 24 touchdowns with just one interception. He is also completing 64.7% of his throws while averaging 8.7 yards per attempt.

USC, currently No. 9 in the AP poll, has a clear path to the Pac-12 title game with a game at No. 10 UCLA looming on Nov. 19. If Williams leads the Trojans to a Pac-12 title and has them in contention for a CFP berth, he’ll certainly be in consideration for the Heisman.

Michigan RB Blake Corum (+1400)

Blake Corum has been one of the best running backs in the country this season. After going for 177 yards and having two total touchdowns in a 29-7 win over Michigan State, Corum is up to 1,078 yards and 14 rushing TDs on the year. And 843 of those yards have come over his last five games as he’s rushed for at least 120 yards in each of those outings.

Corum ranks fourth nationally in rushing yards, second in rushing touchdowns, sixth in yards per game (134.75) and eighth in attempts per game (22.38). If he keeps putting up big numbers and Michigan stays undefeated, he’s going to stay in the Heisman mix. And if Corum plays a key role in a Michigan win over Ohio State — a win that would likely propel the Wolverines to a Big Ten title and CFP berth — Corum could put himself in a position to win the award.

Oregon QB Bo Nix (+2500)

Bo Nix continues to look like a different player when compared to his Auburn days. Nix had another big game on Saturday in Oregon’s 42-24 win over Cal. Though he had two interceptions (one of which deflected off his teammate’s hands), he also threw for 412 yards and three touchdowns and added 59 yards and three scores on the ground.

For the season, Nix has thrown for 2,221 yards and 20 touchdowns to go with 441 yards and 11 scores as a runner. The Ducks have won seven straight since a season-opening loss to Georgia and have been dominant along the way.

North Carolina QB Drake Maye (+2500)

Drake Maye’s college career is off to an incredible start. A redshirt freshman, Maye is already a star for North Carolina. In UNC's win over Pitt on Saturday night, Maye turned in another outstanding performance. He completed 34 of his 44 attempts for 388 yards and five touchdowns. He also had 61 rushing yards.

For the season, Maye has thrown for 2,671 yards and 29 touchdowns with just three interceptions while completing 71.3% of his attempts. Not only does Maye look like a future first-round NFL draft pick, he has the Tar Heels on a path to the ACC title game.

If UNC keeps winning, Maye could play himself into a Heisman finalist — especially with a potential showdown with Clemson in the ACC title game looming.

TCU QB Max Duggan (+3000)

Duggan’s Heisman odds have skyrocketed as TCU continues to win.

Duggan wasn’t even on the board at BetMGM when the season began. Last week, he was listed at +10000 to win the Heisman, but now he’s up at +3000.

TCU isn’t exactly a top-tier brand in the sport, and that could hurt Duggan when you compare him to guys in the SEC and Big Ten. But it shouldn’t. He’s having a phenomenal season and deserves mention here.

Alabama QB Bryce Young (+3300)

Bryce Young, the reigning Heisman winner, continues to linger in the background. Now at +3300 after being listed at +2200 last week, it feels like a buy-low opportunity for Young with a huge road showdown with LSU coming on Saturday.

That game may be a bit overshadowed by the Tennessee-Georgia game, but it could prove to be just as important. Though it has the loss to Tennessee from earlier this season, Alabama would move into sole possession of first place in the SEC West with a win in Baton Rouge.

And that means a clear path to the SEC title game and back to the playoff. Young doesn’t have the supporting cast (particularly at receiver) he did last year when he won the Heisman. If he can manage to lead this group to an SEC title, it would certainly merit plenty of consideration from the Heisman committee even though there’s only been one repeat winner in the history of the award.

Others on the radar