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Heisman Watch, Week 2: Running backs enter the fray, trendy preseason QBs underwhelm

In a wild Week 2, running backs stole the spotlight in the Heisman race.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 11 Oregon at Ohio State
Running back CJ Verdell of the Oregon Ducks runs with the ball during the game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Oregon Ducks at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio on September 11, 2021.
Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Week 2 featured several high-profile upsets as several teams met in pivotal non-conference contests. These results also shaped the Heisman Trophy conversation considerably due to some breakout running back performances across the country. Receivers won’t get into the mix just yet, but it’s nice to see another position group get some love early. Here’s a look at Heisman contenders after Week 2. All odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.

Brennan Armstrong, QB, Virginia

Stock: Up

Armstrong had a field day against Illinois, throwing for 405 yards, five touchdowns and one interception in a 42-14 victory. He also added 31 yards on the ground. The Cavaliers quarterback is not on the board at the sportsbook, but will surely be included in the conversation after this performance. Armstrong is going to get several chances to build his case, starting in Week 3 at North Carolina against a ranked Tar Heels squad.

Brock Purdy, QB, Iowa State

Stock: Down

It continues to get worse for Purdy, one of college football’s Heisman darlings entering the year. The senior threw three interceptions (only one was really on him) in a 27-17 loss to No. 10 Iowa in the Cy-Hawk rivalry game. Purdy was ultimately benched in the contest, which is never a good sign. Iowa State still has everything to play for in the Big 12, but this has not been a good start to the year. Purdy is listed at +5000 to win the award, but that number is sure to drop.

Stetson Bennett, QB, Georgia

Stock: Up

Here’s another quarterback who’s currently off the board at DraftKings. Bennett started the game against UAB for injured QB JT Daniels and immediately began throwing touchdowns. He finished the game 10/12 with 288 yards and five touchdowns, leading No. 2 Georgia to a 56-7 win and potentially starting a quarterback controversy in the process. It’s possible Kirby Smart goes back to Daniels once he recovers, but Bennett could be a name to watch going forward.

Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins, RBs, Michigan

Stock: Up

The Wolverines are without star receiver Ronnie Bell for the rest of the year, but it won’t matter if the run game continues to perform like it did against Washington. Corum, who is the lead back at the moment, rushed for 171 yards and three scores. Haskins wasn’t too shabby himself with 155 yards and a touchdown. The schedule sets up well for Michigan, especially if these two running backs produce. Neither player is on the board for Heisman Trophy odds.

Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter, RBs, Auburn

Stock: Up

Eventually, one of these running backs will take over the lead role. After Bo Nix got some love in last week’s Heisman Watch, Bigbsy and Hunter decided to take over in Auburn’s 62-0 demolition of Alabama State. Bigsby put up 122 yards on the ground while Hunter had 147 yards and a score. Couple those with last week’s performances and you’ve got a great start for both players. A showdown next week on the road against a ranked Penn State squad will go a long way in determining how Auburn’s season turns out.

CJ Verdell, RB, Oregon

Stock: Up

Verdell was relatively quiet in Week 1 against Fresno State, putting up 76 total yards and one touchdown. The Oregon running back needed to break out against Ohio State on the road and boy did he break out.

Verdell recorded 195 total yards and three total touchdowns in Oregon’s massive 35-28 upset of Ohio State, propelling the team to 2-0 and into the College Football Playoff conversation. The Ducks have the best win of this young season and there’s no immediate threat looming in the Pac-12. Verdell could end up with massive numbers for a playoff team if his form continues. He’s +8000 to lift the Heisman.

Jerome Ford, RB, Cincinnati

Stock: Up

He’s off the board at DraftKings, but keep an eye out for Ford. He put up 121 yards and a score in the opener against Miami (OH) before going for 113 yards and three scores against Murray State. No. 7 Cincinnati has a seemingly light game next week against Indiana before the money showdown at No. 8 Notre Dame. These two road games will go a long way in Ford’s Heisman case and Cincy’s playoff hopes.

Jack Coan, QB, Notre Dame

Stock: Down

It’s surprising to see Coan here, especially after his stock went through the roof in Notre Dame’s 41-38 win over Florida State. The Wisconsin transfer nearly saw his squad lose at home to the Toledo Rockets, even being benched for a short time before ultimately being called on to rescue the situation. Coan, who is +5000 to win the award, finished the game with 239 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He’ll need to rack up some big games to stay in this race.

DJ Uiagalelei, QB, Clemson

Stock: Down

Uiagalelei had a rough game in Week 1 against Georgia, but followed it up with a relatively pedestrian outing against South Carolina State. The quarterback did have two short rushing touchdowns, but his performance throwing the ball left a lot to be desired. Uiagalelei finished with 171 yards, one touchdown and one interception in a 49-3 win. He’s currently listed at +1600, but expect that number to fall a bit after this week. With no truly marquee matchups on the schedule at the moment, it’s hard to see Uiagalelei get back in this race unless he starts putting up ridiculous numbers.