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Heisman Watch, Week 3: Unlikely Big Ten stars shine while preseason Heisman co-favorite lays an egg

The Spartans and Hawkeyes have players in the Heisman mix.

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Miami
Michigan State Spartans quarterback Payton Thorne drops back before attempting a pass during the first half against the Miami Hurricanes at Hard Rock Stadium.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Week 3 was a quiet one on the upset front, but featured several pivotal matchups in the grand scheme of the college football season. The Big Ten, once thought to be Ohio State’s conference to lose, could have several heavyweights battling it out down the stretch. The ACC might no longer be Clemson’s playground. The SEC remains the top conference, but features some new challengers. Here’s a look at Heisman contenders after Week 3. All odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.

Brennan Armstrong, QB, Virginia

Stock: Up

Armstrong was on the losing end of a ridiculous 59-39 loss to North Carolina, but the Cavaliers quarterback put up massive numbers. He threw for a whopping 554 yards and four touchdowns, but had a costly interception as well. Virginia is going to be in the ACC title mix and Armstrong will continue to put up numbers in this season. The Cavaliers also have big games remaining against Notre Dame and Virginia Tech. Armstrong is +7500 to win the honor, but he’ll keep climbing if he puts up numbers like this.

Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina

Stock: Up

Howell was almost forgotten for the first couple weeks of the season, especially after UNC’s loss to Virginia Tech in Week 1. He announced his return to the Heisman race in style against Virginia, throwing for 307 yards and five touchdowns while also putting up 112 yards on the ground. Howell is projected to be one of the top draft picks in the 2022 NFL draft. He’s +3000 to win the Heisman and has a relatively manageable schedule looming.

Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma

Stock: Down

Rattler, presumed to be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, continues to put up underwhelming numbers. He entered the season at +550 as essentially a co-favorite to win the Heisman with Alabama’s Bryce Young, but now stands at +1200. After throwing for just 214 yards and one touchdown in a 23-16 win over Nebraska, Rattler has to step up in conference play. Oklahoma is undefeated and likely won’t get much of a challenge in the Big 12, which will help Rattler more than his stat line at the moment.

Payton Thorne, QB, Michigan State

Stock: Up

Where the did the Spartans come from? Michigan State was not expected to be a factor in the Big Ten, but the team is 3-0 and may have sent Miami head coach Manny Diaz packing early. Thorne tossed four touchdowns agains the Hurricanes in a 38-17 win, giving him nine touchdowns on the season to zero interceptions. The next month should be easy for the Spartans before a massive rivalry game against Michigan.

Tyler Goodson, RB, Iowa

Stock: Up

A Hawkeye in the Heisman race? It’s been a weird college football season so far, but Iowa is easily the biggest surprise early. The No. 5 Hawkeyes have crushed the trendy Hoosiers and Cyclones in the first two weeks to establish themselves as Big Ten and national title contenders. Goodson had two productive games before truly popping off against Kent State, going for 153 yards and three touchdowns. He’s at +20000 to win the award and could climb higher if Iowa keeps knocking off teams in dominant fashion.

KJ Jefferson, QB, Arkansas

Stock: Up

Jefferson’s first two games were not spectacular, but Arkansas is 3-0 after his 366-yard, three-touchdown performance against Georgia Southern. The Razorbacks have four massive games coming up against Texas A&M, Georgia, Ole Miss and Auburn. If Arkansas is for real and Jefferson keeps up his hot play, he’ll be in contention for college football’s most prestigious individual honor. The quarterback is currently +30000 to win the award.

DJ Uiagalelei, QB, Clemson

Stock: Down

Uiagalelei’s Heisman odds are starting to accurately reflect his standing. Entering Week 3, the Clemson quarterback was somehow +1600 despite struggling against South Carolina State. After throwing for just 126 yards on 25 attempts in an ugly 14-8 win over Georgia Tech, the Tigers quarterback now finds himself sitting at +3500 on DraftKings Sportsbook. Clemson doesn’t appear to be the force it usually is in the ACC this season, which spells bad things for Dabo Swinney and company. After seeing Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence put up huge numbers, it’s surprising to see Uiagalelei struggle.