The facts suggest that Michael Penix Jr. has as good of a chance to win this year’s Heisman Trophy as anyone else. You can read these four reasons to find out how he can do just that.
Four Reasons Michael Penix Jr. Can Win the Heisman
Last Season, Penix Jr. threw for 4,641 yards with 31 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Those are very good numbers but not quite enough to take home the hardware. In his first game of this season against Boise State he threw for 450 yards, five touchdowns, and zero interceptions. He will need to continue to put up those kinds of numbers over the course of the entire season if he wants a chance to have his name called at the Heisman ceremony.
The Best Wide Receivers In the Country
Penix is fortunate to have the best starting wide receivers in the country. Rome Odunza produced 65 catches for 1,175 yards and seven touchdowns in 2022. Odunza is off to a hot start for the 2023 campaign with seven catches for 132 yards and a touchdown in the opener. Keeping pace with Odunza is Jalen McMillan who finished the 2022 season with 79 catches for 1,098 yards and nine touchdowns. Like Odunza, McMillan is off to a strong start this season having caught eight catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns in the first game of the 2023 season.
A third receiver who is often forgotten but shouldn’t be is speedster Ja’Lynn Polk. In 2022 he led the team with 16.9 yards per target while hauling in 41 catches for 694 yards and six touchdowns. Like the other two, Polk is off to a great start with three catches for 101 yards and a touchdown against the Broncos. These three receivers will be crucial as Penix Jr. hopes to put up even better numbers in 2023.
Conference games against Utah and Oregon are at home for the Huskies although Oregon will have revenge on their minds after Washington won in Eugene last season. The Huskies are stronger on defense than Oregon and significantly better than Utah on offense. While the USC game is in Los Angeles that almost guarantees good weather which means the football will be flying all over the Coliseum.
Assuming Penix Jr. and the Huskies can get a win which is certainly possible given that the Trojans’ defense is like a leaky faucet, then the Heisman could very well go to Penix Jr. History has shown that the voters are hesitant to give it to the previous year’s winner unless the winner is obvious.
Caleb Williams is the odds-on favorite to pick up his second consecutive Heisman Trophy which would make him only the second person to win the award back to back since Archie Griffin did in the 1975 and 1976 seasons. Michael Penix Jr. is listed as the second favorite with Florida State’s Travis Jordan, Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy, and Clemson’s Cade Klubnik rounding out the top five. Jordan and McCarthy pose the biggest threats to Williams and Penix, Jr. with Klubnik a long shot even with him in the top five. Jordan and McCarthy will need to put up extraordinary numbers to overtake Williams and Penix, Jr. who both play in the pass-happy PAC-12.
Another candidate not listed in the top five is running back Blake Corum from Michigan. Realistically it will be difficult for him to repeat last season’s performance where he was in the running until an injury against Illinois ended his season early. It’s very likely that Harbaugh and company won’t overload Corum during the regular season with another expected playoff run looming. Realistically the voting for this year’s Heisman should come down to Williams and Penix, Jr. If the production is close between the two of them during the regular season expect Penix, Jr. to hear his name called in December. It is a quarterback award, right?
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