Now that the calendar has turned to October, the first full month of the college football season is in the books. Teams around the FBS have all played at least a third of their schedule, and we are getting an idea on who the best teams and players in the country are. While there is still a lot that can happen between now and early December, some teams and players have started to build a strong case as to why they should be in the conversation for the College Football Playoff and the Heisman Trophy.
Since September is now over, it is a perfect time to give out our September Heismans. Even though everyone knows the Heisman Trophy isn’t actually awarded until December, that hasn’t stopped Michigan in the past from having players that fans of the Wolverines were ready to crown as Heisman winners in the first month of the season. A few Michigan September Heisman winners that come to mind are Denard Robinson, Tate Forcier, and Devin Gardner trying to will a September Heisman into existence by wearing number 98 against Notre Dame back in September 2013.
Of course Michigan isn’t the only school to have September Heismans, they are just the funniest school associated with the whole concept. Today we are going to give our picks for who is deserving of the Heisman Trophy after the first month of the season, and we would love to hear who you think has put themselves in pole position for the golden stiff-arm.
Today’s question: Who should be the recipient of this year’s September Heisman?
We’d love to hear your choices. Either respond to us on Twitter at @Landgrant33 or leave your choice in the comments.
Brett’s answer: Michael Penix Jr.
Even though USC quarterback Caleb Williams has the gaudier stats, I really feel like the best quarterback in the Pac-12 this year has been Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. The Huskies are coming off a 31-24 win at Arizona, but the game wasn’t quite as close as the final scoreline might indicate. Washington led 28-10 in the third quarter, and the Wildcats scored with just over a minute left in the game to trim the deficit to seven. Penix was 30-40 for 363 yards in the game. Some may question why Penix didn’t toss any touchdowns in the game, but it was obvious he did a lot of the heavy lifting through the air, while all four of Washington’s touchdowns came on the ground from five yards and in.
Prior to the touchdown-less performance on Saturday night, Penix had thrown at least three touchdown passes in each of the first four games for the Huskies. In the first game of the year, Penix had five touchdown tosses against Boise State, and a couple of weeks later he went to East Lansing and threw four touchdowns against Michigan State. So far this season, Penix is completing 75 percent of his passes, accumulated 1,999 yards passing, and connected for 16 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
Following an exceptional start to the season, Penix is going to have plenty of chances to sway voters over the next two months. Next week Washington hosts Oregon, and in November the Huskies play USC, Utah, Oregon State, and Washington State. There could have been an argument made that Penix should have been a Heisman finalist last year because of how great he was in his first season in Seattle after transferring from Indiana. The problem was nobody saw what Penix did because most of the voters were sleeping by the time Washington games kicked off. That won’t be the case this year since there should be a lot of high-profile Huskies games over the next two months.
Matt’s answer: Cameron Ward
Look, the easy answer year is Caleb Williams... well, actually, the easy answer is Michael Penx Jr. because he is who I think has had the best first month of the season. But, since Brett already took him, the next easiest answer is Caleb Williams.
But, I will be damned if I’m going to pick a USC quarterback to win the award, especially when it would knock Archie Griffin off of his perch as college football’s only two-time Heisman Trophy winner. So, I am going to zag a little bit and go with Washington State QB Cameron Ward, and I’ll tell you why.
Penix does lead the country in passing yards per game at a staggering 399.8, but in third place — with only Colorado Buffalo quarterback Shedeur Sanders between them — is Ward with 347.3 ypg. He is in the top 15 in nearly every important quarterback counting metric and he has looked great doing it. Last time out, Wazzu beat the then-No. 21 Oregon State (ignore the awful title of the highlights below, it’s from the Pac-12 Network, what do you expect?) and Ward went off. He threw for 404 yards and four touchdowns and also ran for another score.
I also think he has a good shot at the Heisman because of the story around his candidacy. The Pac-12 is folding this year and no one wants the hapless Wildcats and Beavers of the Pacific Northwest, leaving them essentially homeless starting next fall. Despite that fact, both teams are fighting against all odds to rise from the ashes of their once historic conference like a Phoenix and claim the final conference crown.
And there, leading the charge for Wazzu is an unlikely signal caller. With only two scholarship offers coming out of high school, Ward enrolled at Incarnate Word in 2020 before transferring to Pullman last season and has quickly become one of the most electric players in college football.
Now, would you rather vote for that, or the guy from the team who helped dismantle one of the most tradition-rich conferences in college athletics? Yeah, Michael Penix Jr. has been incredible, but those darn Washington Huskies helped deliver the death knell to the Pac-12. So, they shouldn’t be rewarded with a practically completely subjective and arbitrary award like the Heisman.