The committee has spoken.
Actually, technically, the committee won’t speak until the 2023 Heisman Trophy is announced Saturday night.
But the votes are in!
While we don’t know who will walk away with hardware, we do know the four finalists who traveled to New York City to claim their prize:
- Marvin Harrison Jr. (Ohio State, WR)
- Michael Penix Jr. (Washington, QB)
- Jayden Daniels (LSU, QB)
- Bo Nix (Oregon, QB)
Simply put, every star listed could’ve been a Heisman front-runner in different seasons. All of them have legitimate claims to the award in 2023, and if it wasn’t obvious, that is a ridiculous amount of talent packed into four players taking over NYC.
With this year’s Heisman presentation nearly upon us, it’s time for one last review of the field, as well as one final prediction.
*Hit the Oregon Sports News comments to share your winner before Saturday’s 2023 Heisman Trophy presentation.
**You can watch the presentation live on ESPN Saturday, starting at 5 p.m. PT.
Marvin Harrison Jr.
Team: Ohio State Buckeyes
Preseason Odds: +2,000 (13th — DraftKings)
Current Odds: +20,000 (4th — SI)
Marvin Harrison Jr might be the name that resonated most with fans this season.
Between Harrison’s legendary NFL namesake and his ridiculous stat lines—not to mention a fierce trading card market—the junior wide receiver was easy to gawk at while scrolling highlights every Saturday. Everyone knew his name.
The problem? Heisman Trophies belong to quarterbacks. At least, they do historically. And so far, there’s little reason to believe 800-plus voters will buck that trend this year.
The good news for Harrison is that he still checks in as ESPN’s No. 1 talent for the 2024 NFL Draft. That’s more important than the Heisman for an up-and-coming pro, right?
Ultimately, Heisman or no Heisman, Harrison deserves his flowers. He’s earned them for this past season, but it’s also for an entire three-year career as a wide receiver with the Buckeyes.
This receiver is going to make noise at the next level. And that’s whether he has a Heisman to his name or not when he gets there.
Team: Oregon Ducks
Preseason Odds: +1800 (10th)
Current Odds: +1500 (3rd)
Remember the concerns around Bo Nix during his transfer to Oregon? Do you recall his first game in 2022 against the Georgia Bulldogs and how he … wait …
… neither do I.
“Bodacious” Bo. That’s where we stand today.
Almost immediately after Game 1 of his Ducks career, Nix started control-alt-DELETING skepticism. Ball control and decision-making became staples of Bo’s game. In no time, he and Dan Lanning looked like locked-in complements sprinting into Year 2. Then, Nix had what felt like a storybook season in 2023…all despite two critical red marks on his record.
Losing to Washington and Michael Penix Jr. twice this year was tough. Ultimately, it’ll likely prove the death knell for Bo’s Heisman. Although, the case for his candidacy remains obvious.
Bo’s 40 passing touchdowns this season tied LSU’s Jayden Daniels for most across FBS. His 77.2 percent completion rate wasn’t just the second-best in college football—it was the second-best in college football ever.
Nix also threw just three interceptions, which can’t be ignored, even by those who claim a dink-and-dunk system diminished him as a Ducks quarterback.
Frankly, Bo was the definition of consistent these past 13 games. He was reliable and efficient, both passing and running the ball. More importantly, he commanded the Ducks’ offense and seemed to make everyone around him better game after game.
In 2023, Nix was the example of season-long consistency, and from the Pac-12 to the SEC, there haven’t been many before him to do it like this.
But that might not do it, necessarily, in the eyes of voters. Not when the competition is so stiff. And not when Oregon—including Bo himself—came up short when it mattered most.
Michael Penix Jr.
Team: Washington Huskies
Preseason 2023 Heisman Trophy Odds: +1600 (7th)
Current Odds: +900 (2nd)
Michael Penix Jr. did something no other quarterback did this season. He beat Bo Nix.
In fact, he beat him twice.
That played into voters’ Heisman decisions. The question, of course, is how much voters weighed those two wins and the final rankings against season-long individual bodies of work.
Penix’s 4,218 passing yards were the best in the nation this season. That’s a check for season-long body of work, no doubt. Also, his 33 touchdowns were met by just nine interceptions.
Those numbers, however, happened to be the worst totals among all three Heisman-leading quarterbacks.
While Washington escaped death during the second half of the season, proving mettle in close games, it still showed vulnerability.
The Huskies will take that if it leads to a Sugar Bowl win on Jan. 1. But it might not be the evidence Penix needs to bring home his own trophy come Saturday.
Team: LSU Tigers
Preseason 2023 Heisman Trophy Odds: +1100 (2nd)
Current Odds: -1200 (1st)
What is there to say about this guy other than sheeesh?
As much praise as you have for Bo Nix and his body of work, Jayden Daniels finished atop FBS with 4,946 yards of total offense. That’s 573 more yards than Bo, despite Daniels playing one fewer game than Nix over the course of the season.
Like Nix, Daniels also landed a stat in the “second-best ever” category this season. His 11.7 yards per attempt were exactly that—the second-best ever—and his 40 passing touchdowns were also met with 1,134 yards rushing yards.
This guy was an absolute video game. And as soon as Bo Nix took his second L of the year to none other than Penix and the Huskies, Daniels’ Heisman stock rose significantly.
Of course, it seems three losses are something the committee can look past when the two other leaders in the category cancel each other out.
That’s a tough reality for both Nix and Pennix.
Do we have four capable Heisman winners here?
You bet. Of course, we do.
But, like every season, there can only be one.
This year, the 2023 Heisman Trophy goes to…
WINNER: Jayden Daniels, QB — LSU
No. 2: Bo Nix, QB — Oregon
No. 3: Michael Penix Jr., QB — Washington
No. 4: Marvin Harrison Jr., WR — Ohio State
This is the only outcome we can expect at this point. You saw the odds above. No one is coming through with the upset over Daniels.
For Nix, it’s impossible to know what the parallel universe looks like. The universe where Oregon wins the Pac-12, and both he and the Ducks storm toward a national championship. Odds are, Nix is your 2023 Heisman favorite in that universe.
But alas, here we are.
Penix’s inconsistencies against his overall body of work are worth a bronze medal—not runner-up status. So we have Daniels No. 1, Nix second, Penix third, and Harrison finishing fourth.
The final, official tally will be fascinating. It will reveal a lot about how the committee leans: toward individual and season-long success or winning at the right time to contend for a national championship.
Either way, this will likely be another way Bo Nix came up short. But that’s not to take away from his season, and, of course, it’s not to take away from his time at Oregon.
“Bodacious” Bo should, and will, go down as one of the greatest Ducks of all time.
The quarterback just came up a win short, as so many Oregon greats before him have.