Heisman Watch: Bo Nix's resurgence at Oregon puts him in the conversation

For the rest of the college football season, Yahoo Sports will highlight the leading candidates for the Heisman Trophy on a weekly basis. All odds are via BetMGM.

Bo Nix has entered the chat.

Nix, after a bumpy three-year stint as the starting quarterback at Auburn, is thriving in his first season at Oregon. The new-and-improved Nix was at the top of his game on Saturday as the Ducks trounced No. 9 UCLA 45-30 at home to hand the Bruins their first loss of the season.

Nix was locked in for 60 minutes. He completed 22-of-28 throws for 283 yards and five touchdowns. He also rushed for 53 yards in the win. Oregon settled for a field goal on its first drive before scoring touchdowns on its next six possessions. The Bruins had no answer for Nix’s pinpoint passing and elusive movement in the pocket.

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Nix showed flashes of excellence during his time at Auburn, but was just as well known for making costly mistakes as he was for highlight-reel plays. Now in the Pac-12, he finds himself in a far more favorable situation. Auburn consistently lacked on the offensive line and at receiver during Nix’s time with the program, leaving Nix to fend for himself against powerhouse SEC defenses.

At Oregon, he is part of the best roster in the Pac-12. The Ducks have an excellent offensive line and a stellar collection of backs and receivers, and Nix is right at home in Kenny Dillingham’s offense. Dillingham was the offensive coordinator at Auburn during Nix’s freshman season, and those two have gotten more and more in sync as the season has progressed.

Of course, Oregon’s season-opening stinker vs. Georgia won’t be easy for voters to overlook, but Nix has been one of the best players in the country in the weeks since. Nix was just 21-of-37 for 173 yards and two interceptions in that ugly 49-3 loss to the Bulldogs. It resembles a lot of the performances he had at Auburn. But in the six games since, Nix has thrown 17 touchdown passes with just one interception. He’s also rushed for eight touchdowns over that span.

As a result of Nix’s high-profile performance vs. UCLA, his Heisman odds saw a considerable boost, moving from +6600 to +4000 at BetMGM.

Oregon is now 6-1 and ranked No. 8 with a very manageable schedule ahead. If the Ducks keep on winning and Nix keeps playing at this level, he’ll have a chance to gain ground in the Heisman race in the coming weeks.

Oregon's Bo Nix, center, threw for 283 yards and five touchdowns in Saturday's impressive win over previously undefeated UCLA. (AP Photo/Chris Pietsch)
Oregon's Bo Nix, center, threw for 283 yards and five touchdowns in Saturday's impressive win over previously undefeated UCLA. (AP Photo/Chris Pietsch)

Ohio State QB CJ Stroud (-125)

Stroud finished fourth in the Heisman voting in 2021 and has been atop the odds board for several weeks. He didn’t have his sharpest performance in Saturday’s win over Iowa, but he is still the betting favorite at BetMGM entering Week 9.

Stroud shook off an early interception and ended up throwing for 286 yards and four touchdowns in a 54-10 win over Iowa. Iowa’s defense actually made things somewhat difficult for the Buckeyes early, but Iowa’s lifeless offense kept gifting OSU points with turnovers. OSU had just one touchdown drive in the first half, but Stroud caught fire in the second half, throwing all four of his touchdown passes in the final two quarters.

Included in that bunch was this gorgeous 79-yard connection with Julian Fleming:

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After Saturday’s outing, Stroud now has 2,023 yards and 28 touchdowns with just four interceptions on the year. OSU will visit No. 13 Penn State on Saturday.

Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker (+200)

Any fear of a hangover from Tennessee’s win over Alabama were quickly put to rest. Fortuitously, the Volunteers had FCS program UT Martin visiting Neyland Stadium, and Hooker and the rest of his teammates were not going to let the Skyhawks have even a glimmer of hope of a major upset.

The score was 7-7 early. But by halftime, Tennessee had built a commanding 52-7 lead. To build that advantage, Hooker completed 18-of-24 passes for 276 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 28 yards before spending the second half out of harm’s way on the sideline.

For the season, Hooker has thrown for 2,093 yards and 18 touchdowns with just one interception. Despite facing an FCS defense, Hooker’s odds moved from +600 to +200 in the last week. He’ll have a chance to gain some more ground in the Heisman race when Tennessee hosts No. 19 Kentucky this coming weekend.

Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) continues to see his Heisman odds improve as he and the Vols ar thriving. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) continues to see his Heisman odds improve as he and the Vols ar thriving. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

USC QB Caleb Williams (+1200)

Williams and USC had a bye week to regroup after a heartbreaking loss to Utah. The Trojans, currently 6-1 and ranked No. 10, are still in great position to get to the Pac-12 title game and a College Football Playoff appearance isn’t totally out of the question either.

USC would need to go on that kind of run to get Williams to the Heisman ceremony in New York City. That starts on Saturday at Arizona before home games vs. Cal and Colorado.

Williams has thrown for 1,971 yards, 19 touchdowns and just one interception so far this year. He has also rushed for 235 yards and three scores.

Michigan RB Blake Corum (+1300)

Like Williams and USC, Corum and Michigan were also off in Week 8. The Wolverines will return to action on Saturday vs. rival Michigan State and Corum should have plenty of opportunities for success.

To this point in the season, Corum has rushed for 901 yards and 13 touchdowns with four efforts of 100-plus yards. His touchdown total is tied for the national lead while his yardage output ranks seventh. Through seven games, he is averaging 128.7 rushing yards per game for the fourth-ranked Wolverines.

With Michigan undefeated and in the national title conversation, expect Corum’s name to stay near the top of the Heisman odds as long as he keeps producing. And with Michigan leaning heavily on the run, it’d be a surprise if that didn’t happen.

Alabama QB Bryce Young (+2200)

Even after a solid performance in a comfortable win over Mississippi State, Bryce Young saw his Heisman odds dip from +1800 to +2200.

Young is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and he has put up excellent numbers this year despite missing one game due to a shoulder injury. In Saturday’s 30-6 win, Young threw for 249 yards and two touchdowns, giving him 1,906 yards and 18 touchdowns on the year.

Alabama, currently No. 6 in the country, is off this week before a critical stretch that includes road games against LSU and Ole Miss before the Crimson Tide host Auburn in the Iron Bowl. If Alabama gets through that run unscathed, it will return to Atlanta for the SEC title game, where either Georgia or Tennessee will be waiting.

With those opportunities ahead, this feels like an opportunity to buy low on Young’s Heisman stock.

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (9) saw his Heisman odds fall significantly in the last few weeks despite his sterling numbers on the season. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)
Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (9) saw his Heisman odds fall significantly in the last few weeks despite his sterling numbers on the season. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)

Oregon QB Bo Nix (+4000)

This change of scenery has done a load of good for Nix, who is playing the best football of his career by a significant margin. Following Saturday’s performance vs. UCLA, Nix has thrown for 1,809 yards and 17 touchdowns while completing 71.5% of his attempts to this point in the season. He also has 382 yards and eight scores as a runner.

That Week 1 performance vs. Georgia won’t be easy to overlook, but Oregon is going to be in the College Football Playoff conversation moving forward. Oregon will almost certainly be the favorite in every game it plays for the rest of the regular season, making the path to the Pac-12 title game very clear

If the Ducks can roll through the Pac-12 without a loss, they will be knocking on the door of the top four into December. And there’s a good chance Nix’s Heisman candidacy gets more legitimate by the week.

Others on the radar

  • Oklahoma State QB Spencer Sanders (+4000)

  • Clemson QB DJ Uiagalelei (+5000)

  • Wake Forest QB Sam Hartman (+5000)

  • Alabama RB Jahmyr Gibbs (+5000)

  • Georgia QB Stetson Bennett (+5000)

  • North Carolina QB Drake Maye (+5000)

  • Illinois RB Chase Brown (+5000)