Heisman Trophy power rankings: Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy climbs into race

The 2023 college football season is more than halfway over, but the race for the most prestigious individual award in sports is very much up in the air. 

With Caleb Williams and the USC Trojans losing their second game of the season Saturday to Utah, the chances of seeing just the second two-time winner of the award are essentially over. 

It’s time to focus on the other talents competing on Saturdays. And as the sport heads into Week 9 of the season, a new name has emerged at the top.


Let’s take a look at the top four players with the best odds to take home the 2023 Heisman Trophy after Week 8, according to Caesars Sportsbook.

J.J. McCarthy, Michigan, +260

When you’re the quarterback of what many consider to be the best team in the nation, your name is going to make it into the Heisman conversation. 

J.J. McCarthy is the third player to be at the top of the Heisman odds list, joining USC quarterback Caleb Williams and Michael Penix Jr. of Washington. 

McCarthy has shot up the rankings — he was +1100 last week — after Michigan moved to 8-0 with a dismantling of in-state rival Michigan State in Week 8. 

The junior signal-caller threw for 287 yards and four touchdowns as Michigan defeated the Spartans 49-0. 

McCarthy has thrown for 1,799 yards, 18 touchdowns and just three interceptions. He’s added three scores on the ground. 

“Obviously, this Michigan team looks for real. They have not been tested,” Caesars Sportsbook college football lead Joey Feazel told Fox News Digital.

“They’ve just been dominant. Especially in the trenches. And when you’ve been dominant on that front line, you’re going to get some passing opportunities. And, really, with the help of Penix having a really poor night, it kind of shot J.J. to the spotlight. And also Michigan is the favorite to win the championship as well. I think it was a pretty underwhelming week. I don’t think it was so much so that J.J. really was that dominant. Obviously, Michigan is that dominant, but it really coupled with other results that other quarterbacks were underwhelming.” 


Michigan has an off week before facing Purdue in Week 10.

Michael Penix Jr., Washington, +260

After Washington defeated Oregon in a thriller, Penix Jr. separated himself from the pack and entered the weekend with a slight lead over Williams. 

With a dynamic offense, Penix was expected to continue putting up gaudy numbers, especially with Arizona State coming to town. 

But the Huskies struggled against ASU, and Penix threw for a season-low 275 yards and two interceptions. Washington’s offense failed to score a touchdown in a 15-7 win. 

“It’s one of those awards where you have to be perfect, and you’re always going to remember what happened last,” Feazel said of Penix. “So, not a big overreaction. Not putting him in double digits or anything like that. Not saying he’s out of the race, but he definitely took a little bit of a step back in which we saw J.J. step up.”

Penix still leads the country in passing yards and is tied for fourth in the nation with 20 touchdown passes. 

Jayden Daniels, LSU, +300


Even with two losses, LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels is in the thick of the race. 

Daniels is commanding the second-best offense in the country (552.9 yards per game) and is coming off a 62-0 win over Army. 

Daniels needed just 15 pass attempts to throw for 279 yards and three touchdowns, adding a score on the ground. He’s second in the country in passing yards (2,573) and first in passing touchdowns (25). 

LSU has an off week before facing Alabama in Tuscaloosa. 

Jordan Travis, Florida State, +850

For nearly three quarters, Travis and the Seminoles were in a dogfight with the Duke Blue Devils

Then Duke quarterback Riley Leonard went down, and the Seminoles’ offense got hot. Florida State found the end zone on its final three possessions, two of which came by the arm and leg of Travis. 

The senior QB finished the night 27 of 36 for 268 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. 

The Heisman takes winning into consideration, and at 7-0 with a schedule that seems manageable the rest of the way, Travis should be in the thick of things. 

“A lot of it too is even if bets are coming in. There’s not really any bets coming in on Jordan either,” Feazel told Fox News Digital on why Travis has the fourth-best odds despite being 7-0.

“They should be primed to go to the College Football Playoff, and you’d think that he’d be at higher odds, but really bettors aren’t showing any sort of faith that he’s going to be able to push through to get that award,” he continued. “So, at this point, he’s kind of sitting in that fourth spot. But bettors aren’t having any faith and the markets not really moving toward him getting that respect probably he deserves.”

Others in the mix: 

Bo Nix, Oregon, +1200

Dillon Gabriel, Oklahoma, +1200

Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State, +1600

“We also saw the best non-quarterback on the board, Marvin Harrison, go from 50-1 to 14-1. Obviously, with Brock Bowers out of the picture, he’s kind of gotten the big hype this week,” Feazel said of Harrison. 

Drake Maye, North Carolina, +3000

Carson Beck, Georgia, +3500

Kyle McCord, Ohio State, +4000

DJ Uiagalelei, Oregon State, +4000

Blake Corum, Michigan, +4000

Jalen Milroe, Alabama, +4000

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