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Heisman Watch, Week 9: Kenneth Walker III has his moment, quarterbacks step back

There was finally a truly defining performance for one of the contenders for college football’s greatest individual honor.

Michigan v Michigan State
Kenneth Walker III of the Michigan State Spartans celebrates a 37-33 win over the Michigan Wolverines at Spartan Stadium on October 30, 2021 in East Lansing, Michigan.
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Alabama QB and Heisman favorite Bryce Young was a on a bye this week, which might’ve been a good thing for the passer. This was an underwhelming week for Heisman contenders, with two prominent quarterbacks suffering crushing defeats. However, there was finally a true “Heisman moment” when Kenneth Walker singlehandedly dominated his team’s in-state rival in a top-10 showdown. It’s going to be hard for the other contenders to top that performance, even with some massive games remaining on the schedule.

Here’s a look at some of the contenders for the award after Week 9, and their odds from DraftKings Sportsbook.

Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss (+300)

Stock: Down

Corral did suffer an injury in a 31-20 loss to Auburn, so his disappointing performance gets a slight pass. Nevertheless, it’s another loss on the quarterback’s resume and he only had one total touchdown. Corral does have the Egg Bowl remaining for a chance to put up big numbers, although it appears his best chance for truly giving Young a run at this honor has already passed. Let’s see how Ole Miss performs down the stretch before completely writing him off but Corral is starting to fade from this conversation.

Sam Hartman, QB, Wake Forest (+4000)

Stock: Up

Hartman and the Demon Deacons keep on winning. Wake Forest dominated Duke and appears destined for a spot in the ACC title game, which means good things for the quarterback. Hartman threw for 402 yards and three touchdowns, bringing his season total for passing scores to 22. The next three games are massive for Hartman’s Heisman campaign as the Demon Deacons have North Carolina, NC State and Clemson coming up.

Kenneth Walker, RB, Michigan State (+500)

Stock: Skyrocketing

This was truly the best performance of the season so far. Walker’s Spartans were down 30-14 in the third quarter against Michigan, and it did not look very promising. The running back took matters into his own hands and rushed for five touchdowns to bring Michigan State back in a 37-33 win. The Spartans have Penn State and Ohio State left as marquee games on the schedule and if they keep playing like they did Saturday, they’ll be headed to Indianapolis and likely the College Football Playoff. That means Walker would have a front row seat at the Heisman ceremony.

Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt (+1200)

Stock: Down

This was a bad loss for Pitt, given the state of the Miami program. Pickett himself was solid, willing the team back from an early deficit while throwing for 519 yards and three touchdowns, He also threw two interceptions and frankly, these types of games look worse when you play for Pitt. Pickett still has a chance in this race, as it’s likely Pitt still gets to the ACC title game. If the quarterback can win a potential shootout with Hartman and Wake Forest, he’ll get a massive boost.

CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State (+450)

Stock: Steady

Stroud threw for 305 yards and a touchdown in Ohio State’s 33-24 victory over Penn State, which were somewhat underwhelming numbers for the quarterback given his previous games. In the grand scheme of things, Stroud didn’t do anything to take himself out of contention for this award. The Buckeyes still have games against Michigan State and Michigan, with potentially one more prominent contest in the Big Ten title game. That loss to Oregon seems like it happened years ago.

Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati (+3500)

Stock: Steady

Ridder had a decent game, throwing for 227 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 47 yards. The problem is he’s had some less than stellar showings in past weeks, and these numbers aren’t going to make up for those games. Cincinnati is going to need “style points” to impress the CFP committee, so Ridder is likely to start racking up better numbers as the season nears its conclusion. The game against SMU could make or break his and Cincinnati’s season.

Caleb Williams, QB, Oklahoma (+1500)

Stock: Up

This is going to be a very interesting conversation for the Heisman voters. Williams is only going to end up playing eight games if you include the Big 12 championship game, but he’s got the numbers to rival other quarterbacks in the race. Williams has a whopping 14 passing touchdowns through four contests and if he keeps putting up these numbers, he’ll catch up to the likes of Hartman, Pittman and Young. The Big 12 isn’t known for defense, so it’s possible for Williams to keep throwing up video game stat lines. He’s entered this race out of nowhere, which is often a defining trait for the eventual Heisman winner.

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