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Heisman History? Caleb Williams heavy favorite to equal Archie Griffin

Nov 26, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13)  throws the ball against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the first half at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The reigning Heisman Trophy winner has been installed as the favorite to repeat the feat.

However, unlike Alabama’s Bryce Young last year, Southern California’s Caleb Williams doesn’t have other star quarterbacks nipping at his heels just yet.

Young was installed as the favorite to repeat shortly after being named the 2021 winner, but Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud was just behind him, and Williams joined the preseason picture after following coach Lincoln Riley from Oklahoma to USC.

Young enjoyed a stellar junior year but finished only sixth in the Heisman trophy race won by Williams last month.

It was a prime example of why it has been nearly a quarter century since Archie Griffin became the only two-time Heisman winner in history (1974-75).

Despite an excellent season, Young was passed during the season by the likes of TCU’s Max Duggan and Georgia’s Stetson Bennett, who squared off in the College Football Playoff championship game.

Williams kick-starts the 2023 race with a huge cushion among oddsmakers ahead of his junior season. That includes being the +400 favorite at FanDuel, where his closest competition at the outset is North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye.

Maye is coming off a breakout freshman season and decided to stay in Chapel Hill despite heavy interest from other programs hoping that he would enter the transfer portal.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is Michael Penix Jr., who will return to Washington for a sixth year of college football. He redshirted at Indiana after tearing his ACL three games into his freshman season in 2018. Penix transferred to Washington after three injury-plagued and one COVID-shortened season and started all 13 games for the Huskies in 2022.

Penix decided to return to Washington after completing 65.3 percent of his passes for 4,641 yards, 31 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. He is the third betting favorite at FanDuel at +1200, along with Oregon’s Bo Nix and Florida State’s Jordan Travis.

Like Penix, Nix and Travis are veteran quarterbacks who decided to return to programs that expect to be highly competitive next season.

The top transfer in the initial 2023 Heisman odds is Sam Hartman (+1800), the record-setting Wake Forest quarterback who moved on to Notre Dame. The top non-quarterback is Michigan running back Blake Corum (+3000), who recently announced he will return to the Wolverines as he rehabs from a season-ending knee injury.

2023 Heisman Trophy Odds (1/9/23)
Caleb Williams, QB, USC (+400)
Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina (+1000)
Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington (+1200)
Bo Nix, QB, Oregon (+1200)
Jordan Travis, QB, Florida State (+1200)
Quinn Ewers, QB, Texas (+1800)
Sam Hartman, QB, Notre Dame (+1800)
Drew Allar, QB, Penn State (+2000)
Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU (+2000)
Joe Milton, QB, Tennessee (+2000)
Case Klubnik, QB, Clemson (+2000)
J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan (+2500)
Brock Vandagriff, QB, Georgia (+2500)
Kyle McCord, QB, Ohio State (+2500)
Dillon Gabriel, QB, Oklahoma (+3000)
Blake Corum, RB, Michigan (+3000)

–Field Level Media