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Ask LGHL: What are C.J. Stroud’s Heisman chances after Toledo game?

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Syndication: Journal Sentinel Barbara Perenic/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK / USA TODAY NETWORK

Every day for the entirety of the Ohio State football season, we will be asking and answering questions about the team, college football, and anything else on our collective minds of varying degrees of importance. If you have a question that you would like to ask, you can tweet us @LandGrant33 or if you need more than 280 characters, send an email HERE.

Question: What are C.J. Stroud’s Heisman chances after the Toledo game?

I know that there was a small, but vocal group of Buckeye fans who were concerned about Ohio State’s offense, and even its returning Heisman Trophy finalist quarterback following the 21-10 season-opening victory against Notre Dame, and still some after OSU defeated Arkansas State by the score of 45-12. Of course, people weren’t as over-the-top concerned as they were about the defense giving a total of one touchdown in the first two games, but that’s for another column.

Needless to say, QB C.J. Stroud and the Buckeye offense returned to Death Star form on Saturday in the team’s 77-21 win over the Toledo Rockets. Stroud threw for 367 yards on 22-of-27 passing and racked up 5 touchdowns without an interception... and he was out by mid-third quarter.

Though his Heisman chances took a bit of a slide over the first two games — following his near-universal frontrunner status in the preseason — Stroud moved back to the top of the voting odds this week, according to DraftKings SportsBook.

The Buckeye signal-caller leads the way at +200, which means that if you bet $100 on him to win, you will profit $200 if he does. Stroud leads USC quarterback Caleb Williams (+300), and last year’s Heisman winner Alabama’s Bryce Young (+400). After that, there is a huge gap to No. 4 in the odds with national champion QB Georgia’s Stetson Bennett IV, who — despite the Georgia name in the history of the Peach state — comes in at +1200.

Oklahoma quarterback Dillion Gabriel and TTUN’s J.J. McCarthy are both at +2000 before we get to the first non-QB entrees. Texas running back Bijan Robinson and Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. are both at +3000 in a tie for seventh place.

In 14th place, another Buckeye pops up on the list in sophomore receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. (+5500). He was not the WR that many expected to be contending for Heisman consideration this year as Jaxon Smith-Njigba is widely considered the best receiver in the country. However, limited by an injury early against the Irish, JSN hasn’t really had the opportunity to show his skills as OSU’s true No. 1 receiver yet, so Harrison and Emeka Egbuka have filled in the hole in the Buckeyes’ offense.

Whenever Smith-Njigba returns, there is no guarantee that he will be 100% and return to the status that he had before the season began, but considering that he has essentially missed one-quarter of the season already, it would be tough to imagine him climbing back into contention for a New York invite, unless he absolutely set the Big Ten on fire when he got back.

On the other hand, it is not difficult to imagine that Stroud will be able to maintain his Heisman lead into December. The Big Ten slate sitting ahead of Ohio State is littered with a mix of consistent quality defenses, some putridly bad units, and others who have been feasting on embarrassingly bad competition during the non-conference campaign.

Stroud’s Remaining Opponents

Opponent Passing Defense Rank Scoring Defense Rank Stroud's 2021 Performance
Opponent Passing Defense Rank Scoring Defense Rank Stroud's 2021 Performance
Wisconsin 19th 8th N/A
Rutgers 60th 21st 17-23, 330 yards, 5 TDs, 0 Ints
Michigan State 103rd 35th 32-35, 432 yards, 6 TDs, 0 Ints
Iowa 6th 2nd N/A
Penn State 111th 37th 22-34, 305 yards, 1 TD, 0 Ints
Northwestern 119th 95th N/A
Indiana 93rd 64th 21-28, 266 yards, 4 TD, 0 Ints
Maryland 107th 43rd 24-33, 406 yards, 5 TD, 0 Ints
Michigan 3rd 4th 34-49, 394 yards, 2 TD, 0 Ints

So, Stroud will not only have opportunities to continue to pile up gaudy numbers that Heisman voters love, but he will also have opportunities to have #HeismanMoments against respected defenses in what will likely be marquee matchups, beginning with Wisconsin this weekend.

While the likes of the Badgers, Hawkeyes, and Weasels will almost certainly present some form of challenge to Stroud, as long as he plays well in those high-profile games, he doesn’t necessarily need to put up the video game numbers that we saw against Toledo or in the Rose Bowl in January.

That being typed, against the teams remaining on OSU’s schedule that Stroud played against last year, the Buckeye QB was a combined 150-for-202 (74.3%) for 2,133 yards (355.5 ypg), 23 touchdowns (3.83 pg), and 0 interceptions in 2021. Those are, quite honestly, mind-boggling stats considering all of those games were against conference opponents in a league known for its defense.

Will Stroud be able to replicate those numbers this year? I don’t know, Ohio State didn’t play Wisconsin or Iowa last season, but C.J. does look more confident and accurate so far this year, and he appears to have significantly increased his arm strength as well; so anything’s possible.

All but two LGHL staffers picked Stroud to win the Heisman in our preseason predictions article, so we are all in on his candidacy, and given how well he looked against Toledo, I think that we have every reason to suspect that we will be patting ourselves on the back come mid-December.

Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See for details.