As Caleb Williams tries to become just the second back-to-back Heisman winner in college football history, we look at his four biggest Heisman obstacles.
A Look Ahead at Caleb Williams’ Four Biggest Heisman Obstacles
1. Getting the Stamp of Approval from College Football
With the ambitious goal of hoisting the Heisman Trophy twice, Williams has one of the toughest trails to trek this season. It’s no secret that being on a top-tier team is necessary for anyone with Heisman aspirations but USC has one of the toughest schedules in college football. While “quality losses” can often help a team remain in the top echelons of football, this season USC has not been able to get a break.
Although they started the season 6-0, they’ve seen their rankings slip from being the fifth-ranked team in Week 3 to now being ranked 10th overall just four weeks later. Admittedly, the Trojans have been playing close games against teams they were expected to dominate but this has been a quick slide for an undefeated Pac-12 powerhouse.
What does this mean for Williams? He may have to shine brighter than expected this season to keep his name in contention. All while the Trojans still have yet to play their toughest games of the season. Through their remaining six matchups, USC will have to play five ranked teams.
The college football society is already giving USC very little room for error and as the Trojans look to run the gauntlet that is the reminder of their season, it’s hard to tell what Williams will have to do to get college football’s approval.
Heisman Hopeful vs Heisman Hopeful
The Trojans’ schedule isn’t just full of top-tier teams and hostile environments, it’s also scattered with Heisman contenders. This season Williams will have to go head-to-head with three top-20 Heisman contending quarterbacks including two of the top three.
2. A Big First Test in South Bend
This weekend, the Trojans will take on Sam Hartman in South Bend. Hartman, who has thrown over 1,700 yards, 16 touchdowns, and just three interceptions, sits as a top 20 Heisman contender. Although his stock has dropped in recent weeks after Notre Dame suffered losses to Ohio State and Louisville, he remains one of the nation’s leading quarterbacks.
This will be a great test for Willams as he prepares for things to come. Playing in a rivalry game in one of the most intense environments in college football should give the Heisman repeat hopeful a chance to prove himself on a big stage.
It’s not to say Williams hasn’t proven himself already, but a high-profile win in South Bend could serve as a reminder to all of college football that the Trojans, commanded by Williams, are here to play.
3. Facing Off With The Best
In four weeks, USC will host Michael Penix, Jr. and the red-hot seventh-ranked Washington Huskies. Penix Jr. currently sits as the Heisman favorite with Williams claiming the number two spot.
The Huskies have climbed to 5-0 and are currently the highest-ranked Pac-12 team. This has been in large part due to Penix Jr.’s dominating play. The senior has gone for nearly 2,000 yards while picking up 16 touchdowns. This is the result of completing 74.7 percent of his passes and averaging over 11 yards per attempt. With a gunslinger like that in the backfield, there’s no question why Washington has taken control of the Pac-12 and currently sits as the conference’s favorite.
How does Willams stack up against the top Heisman contender? He has thrown for over 1,800 yards, completed 71.7 percent of his passes, and averaged 11 yards per completion. He has also thrown one interception to Penix Jr.’s two, which admittedly is a small margin.
So, head-to-head, it looks like Penix Jr. deserves to be the top contender, right? Well, Williams does have another thing going for him: his legs. Williams has rushed for over 120 yards and picked up six touchdowns while Penix Jr. has rushed for just nine yards and has yet to find the endzone.
All in all, this matchup is one everyone should have circled. Watching two of the best battle it out is what we want every year, and whoever wins may find themselves with a new piece of hardware come December.
4. Gotta Beat Bo
To call Bo Nix and the eighth-ranked Ducks Williams’ final challenge is a bit over the top. The Trojans will have a plethora of obstacles but this will be one of the most exciting.
Nix currently sits as the third most likely Heisman winner and why shouldn’t he be? He has played phenomenal football this season and he’s showing no signs of slowing down. The senior has thrown 16 touchdowns, over 1,450 yards, and has completed a mind-boggling 80.4 percent of his passes.
But what is Nix’s best weapon? The city of Eugene. This season, Nix has become more than a fan favorite. He is the face of the program, the face of the school, and the face of the city.
All of this plays to the strengths of Oregon football. A team that prides itself on making Autzen Stadium a nightmare for anyone not in green and yellow.
When the Trojans walk into Eugene, they will have to play their best football of the season. With an unforgiving environment and an elite quarterback, this game will be make or break for USC and Williams.
But if the Trojans escape Eugene, it will be hard to give the Heisman to anyone but Williams.
What Needs To Be Done?
It’s anything but simple but it’s all the Trojans can do with their minefield of a schedule. If the Trojans can find a way to get wins against top Heisman contenders there is no doubt Williams will be the second all-time Heisman repeat.
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