Heisman watch: Who are the frontrunners for the Heisman Trophy ahead of championship week?

Oct 14, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Bo Nix (10) looks to pass the ball during the first half against the Washington Huskies at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 14, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Bo Nix (10) looks to pass the ball during the first half against the Washington Huskies at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The college football regular season may be over but the race for the Heisman Trophy is far from finished. Conference championship weekend is here for the FBS and the action will include a few players currently in the top five of the Heisman odds.

The Pac-12 title game headlines the first day of championship weekend on Friday night. Heisman contenders Bo Nix of No. 5 Oregon and Michael Penix Jr. of No. 3 Washington will duke it out to see who will very likely make the College Football Playoff. Georgia quarterback Carson Beck, tied for fourth in the latest Heisman rankings, will lead the No. 1 Bulldogs against No. 8 Alabama and late Heisman contender Jalen Milroe Saturday for the SEC title.

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Two key players in the Heisman odds will be sidelined this week. No. 13 LSU's quarterback Jayden Daniels - the favorite just a week ago - as well as No. 6 Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. will be at home this weekend.

Here's a look at how each players' Heisman odds can change this weekend, with odds information provided by BetMGM.

1. Bo Nix, QB, Oregon (-185)

Nix's final game in Eugene against No. 21 Oregon State saw the senior quarterback out on yet another productive, efficient show. His 367 yards passing put him at the top of the FBS leaderboard in passing yards in 2023 with 3,906. He completed 82% of his passes again in the Ducks' 31-7 win to seal first place in FBS completion percentage this season at 78.6%. That's four percent better than any other passer in the country.

Oregon's loss to Washington in Week 7 kickstarted the best statistical stretch of Nix's career. He's catapulted to the top spot in the Heisman rankings thanks to his incredible play in the last six weeks.

This is it. If the Ducks finish the job Friday against Washington in Las Vegas and win the Pac-12, it'll likely be with another stellar game from Nix. Win the Pac-12 and the Heisman Trophy is a near-lock for the Oregon quarterback.

2. Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU (+140)

Daniels can't match Nix's efficiency in the passing game but his gaudy numbers have only improved down the second half of 2023. Last week against Texas A&M, Daniels led the Tigers in rushing yards (120) while also throwing for 235 yards and four touchdowns.

Daniels' totaled at least four touchdowns nine times in 2023. His stat line against Florida - 17-of-26 passing for 372 yards and three touchdowns to go along with 234 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns - is one of the most spectacular single-game quarterback performances in college football history. He's generated 500 yards of offense a ludicrous three times this season.

But the Tigers' season is done and his Heisman odds are out of his hands. Daniels' best hope is Nix and Oregon get run over by Washington this weekend and close the gap in the Heisman rankings.

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3. Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington (+1600)

Nix may have the most to lose this weekend but his counterpart in the Pac-12 title game has the most to gain. Penix Jr. took over the top of the Heisman rankings for the majority of the season as the Huskies' offense rolled over opponents and kept the team undefeated.

After throwing for at least 300 yards in each of the Huskies' first seven games, he's passed that total in just two games since. Washington needed a field goal as time expired to beat Washington State 24-21 last week. Penix Jr. completed just 18 passes for 204 yards, both his second-lowest totals of the year, for two touchdowns and an interception in the win.

There's no denying Washington's talent on offense. Penix Jr. is throwing to multiple players whose names will likely be called earlier than later in the 2024 NFL Draft. But the Huskies need arguably their best game of the season Friday against Nix and the Ducks to win the Pac-12 and give Penix Jr. a better chance at the Heisman Trophy.

T-4. Carson Beck, QB, Georgia (+15000)

There's a sizable gulf in the Heisman odds to Georgia's signal-caller. Beck's slowly climbed up the Heisman rankings as the Bulldogs' offense improved over the second half of the season. Last week, Georgia leaned more on the running game to beat rival Georgia Tech 31-23. Beck completed 13 passes for 175 yards, both season lows, as multiple starters on offense were out with injuries.

Beck can make serious moves up the Heisman odds this weekend. Georgia takes on Alabama for the SEC title. If Beck leads the Bulldogs to their second consecutive conference title with a 300-yard, multiple-touchdown performance, he'll close the gap in the Heisman rankings.

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T-4. Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State (+15000)

The Buckeyes lost their first game of the season to No. 2 Michigan 30-24 in Ann Arbor last week. Harrison Jr. had another incredible day despite the loss with five catches for 118 yards and a touchdown.

Harrison Jr.'s had at least 100 yards receiving and a touchdown in eight of the Buckeyes' 12 games in 2023. Regardless of the Big Ten title game outcome, Harrison Jr. won't take the field again before Heisman voting wraps up.

Unlike Daniels, he isn't close enough to the frontrunners to improve or have his closest competitors drop behind him in the Heisman rankings. He's all but out of the running for the Heisman Trophy.

T-4. Jalen Milroe, QB, Alabama (+15000)

Milroe jumps into the Heisman conversation after his clutch touchdown throw on fourth-and-31 to win the 2023 Iron Bowl over Auburn 27-24. That Iron Bowl win marked Milroe's second game of 2023 with at least 200 yards passing and 100 yards rushing.

His counting statistics can't match those of Daniels, Penix Jr., or Nix. He's third in the FBS in passer rating (179.6) behind Nix and Daniels. He needs to lead Alabama to an SEC title this weekend in dominant fashion to have a hope to jump the other quarterbacks on this list.

Milroe's the only redshirt sophomore on this list. This fall may end up as the prologue to his Heisman Trophy campaign next season for the Crimson Tide.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Heisman Trophy odds: Top favorites as Heisman race enters title week