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Heisman Watch, Championship Week: It’s Bryce Young, Kenny Pickett and everyone else

Two quarterbacks have separated themselves from the rest of the pack. Now, it’s up to the voters.

2021 SEC Championship - Georgia v Alabama
Bryce Young of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates the win against the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 04, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It’s been a wild college football season, which meant championship weekend was bound to be a dull affair. Only Baylor sprung what many would consider to be a true upset, even if Georgia was favored to beat Alabama. However, the Heisman race did gain some clarity as conferences decided who their champion would be. Here’s how the candidates stack up as we close the books on the chase for college football’s top individual honor.

Bryce Young QB, Alabama

Brand: Frontrunner

Young has separated himself over the last two weeks with strong performances, but it was the SEC title game which has put him on a level above everyone else. The quarterback threw for 421 yard and three touchdowns, the former being a SEC title game record. The Crimson Tide walloped Georgia 41-24 and are likely to be the top seed in the playoff. He may not feel like a Heisman winner, but no one truly did this season. Young is the favorite to win this thing.

Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt

Brand: The non-CFP star

If you want to go by pure numbers, Pickett should be lifting that trophy. Pitt isn’t going to the CFP, but it would’ve gone nowhere without the senior quarterback. Pickett threw for 4,066 yards and 40 touchdowns, with just seven interceptions, in the regular season. He led the Panthers to the ACC title, their first ever conference championship in the group. Pickett also added five rushing scores. He did as much if not more than Young with substantially lesser supporting talent.

Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan

Brand: Honorary inclusion

This is an example of how a big-name school can push a narrative for a player who realistically should be nowhere near this award. Hutchinson had three sacks against Ohio State and three more against Penn State for two of Michigan’s biggest wins. He had 13 total sacks in the season. That’s not even close to what a defensive Heisman contender needs to do. Not every CFP team has to have a Heisman candidate. Hutchinson has made some excellent plays in big moments but is he really college football’s best, most impactful player?

Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati

Brand: A sign of respect (maybe)

Ridder is going to be included because voters want to reward Cincinnati in some way for a tremendous season. After being left out of the playoff field initially, the committee ultimately had to waive the white flag and succumb to the chaos around them to let the Bearcats in. Ridder has good numbers with 3,000 yards and 27 passing touchdowns, but those don’t quite stack up well when compared to Young and Pickett. This feels like the Heisman voters wanting to show some respect for Cincinnati, although who really knows how much value that gesture has.

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