With twists and turns expected on a weekly basis before December, the race for the Heisman Trophy has coalesced around five quarterbacks with a legitimate chance at the greatest individual honor in college sports.
Bryce Young and Matt Corral have led the charge since September. Kenny Pickett has the numbers and has Pittsburgh on track for an ACC championship.
Another pair of young quarterbacks have forced their way into the conversation. Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud is playing as well as any quarterback in the Football Bowl Subdivision as the Buckeyes prepare for a key stretch of Big Ten games.
And Oklahoma true freshman Caleb Williams keeps pulling off highlight-reel plays and creating Heisman-worthy moments as OU marches toward another Big 12 championship.
These quarterbacks make the cut in this week’s list of the top passers in the country:
1. Bryce Young, Alabama
The Tide have been cruising since that narrow loss to Texas A&M. So has Young, who has gone for 719 yards and six touchdowns in the last two games as Alabama’s offense begins to find some balance between the run and the pass. The Tide went for 203 yards and five scores on the ground in the win against Tennessee, making things even easier for Young and the passing game.
2. Matt Corral, Ole Miss
After being listed as questionable earlier in the week, Corral threw for 185 yards and a score in the Rebels’ 31-17 win against LSU. The impact is obvious, but are the numbers there for Corral? He’s sitting on 15 touchdowns, fifth in the SEC, and more than half of those scores came in wins against Austin Peay and Tulane.
BOWL PROJECTIONS: Cincinnati’s case for College Football Playoff is growing stronger
NCAA RE-RANK: Oklahoma State, Penn State, Clemson among teams falling
3. Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
Pickett made the most of his big opportunity against Clemson by throwing 302 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers in the Panthers’ 27-17 win. That left Pittsburgh as the only ACC Coastal team still unbeaten in conference play. Combine his numbers and the Panthers’ success to get a pretty solid case for All-America status and postseason hardware.
4. C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
Opportunities abound for Stroud to climb to the top of the list among FBS quarterbacks. Already, his recent three-game stretch — 14 touchdowns and zero interceptions while hitting on 73.8% of his throws — has his numbers climbing into the upper echelon of Power Five passers. Up ahead, Stroud and the Buckeyes will take on Michigan State, Penn State and Michigan, giving him ample chances to make a Heisman statement.
5. Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati
Ridder and the Bearcats had to work all of four quarters to get past Navy, which runs in the face of the idea that Cincinnati was going to waltz through American play before meeting SMU in November. Ridder threw for under 200 yards for the second game in a row and finished with just 182 yards of offense with two touchdowns and an interception.
6. Caleb Williams, Oklahoma
Williams’ biggest impact might be as a runner, and not just when he steals the ball away from a teammate to turn a potential fourth-down stop by Kansas into a first down. He had a game-changing touchdown run after being inserted into the lineup against Texas. He had another flashy run on the option against TCU. And he scored on the ground yet again as the Sooners escaped the Jayhawks’ upset.
7. Sam Hartman, Wake Forest
Hartman packed a performance into just 17 minutes of game time in Wake Forest’s 70-56 win against Army. Despite the Black Knights dominating time of possession, Hartman squeezed 458 yards and five touchdowns into just 29 pass attempts. That left the sophomore as one of just two Power Five passers averaging more than 9.5 yards per throw.
8. Brennan Armstrong, Virginia
With 3,220 yards on a Power Five-best 402.5 yards per game, Armstrong already ranks second in single-season program history in passing yards and is likely one game away from breaking the record of 3,538 yards set by Bryce Perkins in 2019. He’s also in sole possession of fourth place for touchdown passes in a season with 23, leaving him just five shy of the program mark set by Matt Schaub in 2002.
9. Tanner Mordecai, SMU
Mordecai had multiple touchdown passes for the seventh time in as many games but avoided tossing an interception for just the second time against FBS competition as the Mustangs cruised past Tulane 55-26. The former Oklahoma transfer is tied with Western Kentucky’s Bailey Zappe for the most touchdowns in the country and ranks second among Group of Five quarterbacks in efficiency.
10. Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina
The Chanticleers’ New Year’s Six hopes took a blow in last week’s 30-27 loss to Appalachian State. McCall was bottled up on the ground but still threw for 291 yards and a score on 12.7 yards per attempt, leaving him atop the FBS in completion percentage, yards per attempt and efficiency rating.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Heisman race coalesces around five quarterbacks in Week 8 QB rankings