Everybody knows that one of the best parts of being a sports fan is debating and dissecting the most (and least) important questions in the sporting world with your friends. So, we’re bringing that to the pages of LGHL with our favorite head-to-head column: You’re Nuts.
In You’re Nuts, two LGHL staff members will take differing sides of one question and argue their opinions passionately. Then, in the end, it’s up to you to determine who’s right and who’s nuts.
Today’s Question: Who is Ohio State’s most likely Heisman Trophy contender?
Jami’s Take: CJ Stroud
In a year where multiple Buckeyes — including Matt’s pick Garrett Wilson — have made legitimate cases for the Heisman, ultimately, the clear winner of the bunch is freshman quarterback CJ Stroud.
Normally I’d knock Matt a bit for his unfounded opinions, but in this case, I can’t really do that. Junior wide receiver Garrett Wilson is an excellent candidate whose impact on the Ohio State offense can’t be understated. He certainly deserves to be included in any Heisman conversations.
But what Stroud has accomplished this year is above and beyond. He has thrown for 3,036 yards and 30 touchdowns, with just five interceptions. Despite sitting out the Akron game, Stroud is still hitting targets that indicate he could break school records.
And while the numbers are impressive, it’s not the only reason he’s a favorite in Heisman talks. His style of play and team leadership both contribute to his success on the field as well.
Certainly, it doesn’t hurt that he has the best receiving corps in the country. Wilson, Chris Olave and Jaxon Smith-Njigba would make even lesser quarterbacks look good.
But Stroud is not a lesser quarterback. That his receivers are top-notch only lets him shine even further.
Even Wilson himself agrees. In Tuesday’s press conference, he was asked whether he felt he belonged in the Heisman conversation.
Wilson graciously responded, “Nah, it’s got to be the QB. He’s making checks, handing it off, slinging it to me when I’m open, not slinging it to me when I’m not open. He makes me look good.”
And that’s the beauty of Stroud — he often makes it look so easy that it’s easy to forget how much he is elevating the rest of his teammates on the field. And while they surely elevate him as well, as great teammates tend to do, as quarterback, he gets the credit for leading the team in the public eye.
This works in his favor in Heisman conversations.
The reality is, the Heisman has become an award that considers the caliber of the whole team, whether or not that’s being discussed out loud. So having so much talent on this offense bodes well for Stroud when it comes down to who will get the votes.
The betting folks agree. On FanDuel, Stroud’s +125 odds have given him a slight edge over Alabama’s quarterback Bryce Young. While Stroud is not the only Buckeye on the board, the next closest is TreVeyon Henderson in a distant sixth. Other betting sites like DraftKings still have Young with a slight advantage, but overall Stroud has closed the gap.
Of course, all of this is contingent upon how the rest of the season plays out. With big games against Michigan State this weekend, followed by Michigan on Nov. 27, Stroud has his work cut out for him.
But if he can continue to stay cool, he should have no problem connecting with his receivers or running the ball when he’s in a bind. His versatility and ability to read plays make him a standout. And if he continues to stand out, that Heisman very well should be his.
Matt’s Take: Garrett Wilson
Of course we all know that the Heisman Trophy has essentially become a quarterback’s award; it’s hard enough for a non-QB to win, let alone to win two years in a row. With Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith taking home the trophy last year, Garrett Wilson has all of the odds against him.
However, after his 10 reception, 129 yard, 3 touchdown performance last weekend against Purdue, a number of publications began to suggest that OSU’s junior WR might be a late-charging candidate for the award. While that might be a bit of prisoner-of-the-moment, hyperbolic, click-baiting, I think there is legitimate reason to believe that Wilson has a shot at the prize.
The thing to always keep in mind is that Heisman Trophies are most often won thanks to narrative, and when it comes to Buckeye contenders, Wilson has the better narrative. Stroud’s first season as a starter has been an up-and-down one; from fans calling for him to be replaced in the first month to having record-setting performances on multiple occasions. But, the one thing that he has lacked is consistency, and that has been the story for Stroud.
There has been too many games in which he has looked just a smidge off, and I think that voters will remember that. Wilson on the other hand has been one of the most electric performers in the country all season. Though his stats have been a bit hampered by the fact that he is playing alongside two of the other best receivers in the country, he has provided some of the memorable moments for the Buckeyes’ season.
Granted, as of now, I don’t think that Wilson has done enough to even warrant an invite to New York — let alone win the Heisman — but his narrative is building, and given Michigan State’s putrid passing defense, if the WR can continue the momentum started in the game against the Boilermakers and carry through the Big Ten Title Game, he could be setting himself up to be a spoiler for the traditional quarterback party.
Who has the right answer to today’s question?
This poll is closed
Jami: C.J. Stroud
Matt: Garrett Wilson