clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Bold Predictions: Ohio State will have two Heisman finalists in 2022

Ohio State will get two players invited to New York for the Heisman Trophy, and to be honest, it’s not actually that bold.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Heisman Trophy is the most prestigious award in college football, and there is a rich history connected to Ohio State. As the home of the only two-time Heisman Winner and five other winners, the Buckeyes have shown to consistently have the talent to have a representative at the Heisman Trophy ceremony.

Last season, the Heisman Ceremony in New York City took an aggressive turn against Ohio State. C.J. Stroud was a Heisman finalist, and was joined by eventual winner Alabama’s Bryce Young, as well as Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson and Pitt’s Kenny Pickett at the award show. With fresh wounds, Desmond Howard took his shots at Stroud about the loss to Michigan in November on stage, on national television, in a moment that will be brought up for a long time to come.

This year, the Buckeyes will have their shot at redemption, and the list of players on Ohio State who could end up in the Heisman conversation is longer than most schools. With C.J. Stroud, Treveyon Henderson, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba all back after huge seasons, the Buckeyes will without a doubt have a representative in New York. And with this being Bold {redictions week, I predict that Ohio State will have two Heisman finalists.

Ohio State’s most recent Heisman double invite

The Buckeyes were a recent school to have two Heisman Trophy finalists invited to New York in 2019. This group joined a list of a few programs that made this happen in my short research, one that also includes Army. Unsurprisingly, this is not a common occurrence, and even though in recent years schools like Ohio State and Alabama have had multiple players talented enough, one of them usually ends up taking the votes needed from the other.

In the Buckeyes’ case in 2019, Justin Fields and Chase Young played on opposite sides of the football, meaning their games could stand on their shoulders independently from each other. Fields had an incredibly efficient season throwing the ball with an impressive stat line, including 2,100 yards and 22 touchdowns in the shortened COVID season. Being the quarterback for a playoff team also helped considerably.

On the other side, Chase Young was basically a one man wrecking crew at times for the Buckeyes. With a school record 16.5 sacks and a total of 21 tackles for loss, his living in the backfield separated him from every other defensive player in the country in a considerable way. This level of play is important at a non-quarterback position, especially on defense.

Looking at recent history shows that this is all entirely reasonable and possible for the Buckeyes. There are always challenges of two players sharing glory when it comes to winning awards, but if there is a team with at least two viable contenders, Ohio State has them. Heading into this season, the Buckeyes have three candidates that will have the necessary stats for this: Treveyon Henderson, Jaxon Smith-Njigba and C.J. Stroud.

Looking into the Stats

When looking back at last year’s stats, all three of the Buckeyes mentioned in Henderson, Smith-Njigba, and Stroud had special seasons, with each coming after conference and team records. The likelihood of all three playing to Heisman level is probably hurt by playing with each other, but overall they should be able to have the level of success that warrants at least two of the three getting an invite to New York.

Last season, C.J. Stroud led the Buckeye offense, and had pretty absurd passing stats for a first year starter. In that season, Stroud threw for 4,435 yards, 44 touchdowns, and completed 71.9 percent of his passes. Heading into the Michigan game, Stroud was the betting favorite, and if he improves his stats from last year, there is almost no way he doesn’t win the award even if record results are similar. This is why guaranteeing one spot is easy.

The second player who should be able to put up stats that can get him invited to New York is Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who led a loaded receiver unit in every category except touchdowns. In total, Smith-Njigba had 95 receptions, 1,606 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns. The receiving yard total was good for third in the country, and the reception total was good for ninth. That is all while sharing the football with two first round picks at receiver in Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson. Now he will need some help from his teammates in the receiver room so teams can’t throw additional defenders his way. If they can provide that, Smith-Njigba can improve on the numbers and follow his quarterback to New York.

To build on that point, Alabama recently had quarterback Mac Jones and Devonta Smith both invited to New York City. This could be an entirely possible scenario for Stroud and Smith-Njigba, as the tandem should once again share some huge stats. With this being replicable, this should bring some level of certainty to this being a real possibility for the Buckeyes.

Moving forward, let’s not forget about Treveyon Henderson. In his first season he took the Big Ten by storm and starred in his early performances. After getting beat up a little in the middle of the season, he wasn’t fully able to maximize his statistical output. That being said, he set the freshman record for touchdowns with 19, he rushed for 1,248 yards and had 312 receiving yards on top of that. The possibility of Henderson reaching 2,000 all-purpose yards and close to 25 touchdowns would be reasonable enough to get invited to New York if he combines those stats with some signature moments.

In all, the Buckeyes have three offensive weapons who will put up monster stats. If they take care of business in the wins and loss column as well, the preseason hype should help them get over any potential speed bumps from voters. With questions on defense, having multiple Heisman caliber players on offense is not only a blessing, but a necessity. Two of the three should be able to find themselves heading to New York on the backs of their stats and importance to team success.

The Support of Las Vegas

If my reasoning is not enough, our betting partner DraftKings has the three Ohio State players listed in the top-15 of best odds to win the Heisman. C.J. Stroud is the favorite at +250, and should run away with an invite at the bare minimum. Jaxon Smith-Njigba comes in at +3000, and is the second-highest rated non-quarterback behind Bijan Robinson. With Texas not having much recent success, this can become a bet on Ohio State success versus the likelihood of Texas success. Lastly, Treveyon Henderson comes in with the 12th-best odds at +4000. This award has become harder for running backs to win. Only six running backs have finished in the Top-3 since 2010, with Derrick Henry being the only winner during that span back in 2015.

Ohio State is the only team with three players in the top-15 in Heisman odds, and Alabama follows with two. The reason this is a bold prediction is because it is exceptionally rare for players from the same team to get invited, but there are reasons to feel good about this prediction. With a long list of marquee matchups and a few stat padding games, the stats should be there for two of these Buckeyes to make the trip to New York.