We have reached the “last” of our historical MNC Wednesday miniseries entries scrutinizing Heisman Trophy votes, and it means we’re done with this categorical analysis (for now). We will be moving on to new topics soon, although we have yet to decide, editorially, what comes next for us after three-plus years of covering college football’s checkered past. We will figure it out, though, one way or another; never you worry. In the meantime, enjoy this “final” piece of Hypesman.
2022 Heisman Trophy winner: Caleb Williams, QB, USC (original); C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State (revised)
The USC Trojans went 11-2, losing in the Pac-12 Championship Game to Utah, and they were led by transfer quarterback Caleb Williams—who played 11 games at Oklahoma in 2021. His stats (4,917 total yards for 52 total touchdowns and just 5 interceptions for a 168.5 QB rating) were mostly impressive, of course, and the Trojans still earned a Cotton Bowl invitation despite not winning their conference title tilt. Williams played against the No. 39 SOS in the nation, too.
No surprise, though, that we have learned through salty experiences that there are always other high-quality candidates to consider. This is our final list of firmly vetted Heisman candidates, and it’s all a bunch of QBs this time out:
- Max Duggan, QB, TCU: 4,122 total yards for 41 total TDs, 8 INTs, and a 159.2 QB rating (No. 4 SOS)
- C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State: 3,796 total yards for 41 total TDs, 6 INTs, and a 177.7 QB rating (No. 17 SOS)
- Stetson Bennett, QB, Georgia: 4,333 total yards for 37 total TDs, 7 INTs, and a 160.8 QB rating (No. 11 SOS)
- Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee: 3,565 total yards for 32 total TDs, 2 INTs, and a 175.5 QB rating (No. 21 SOS)
- Bryce Young, QB, Alabama: 3,513 total yards for 36 total TDs, 5 INTs, and a 163.2 QB rating (No. 26 SOS)
Eight of the Top 10 Heisman vote getters were QBs, and Williams’ QB rating and SOS certainly leave the door open for another to step through those cracks. Duggan led the Horned Frogs to the Big XII title game and a berth in the CFP, although maybe that wasn’t deserved. But we still think his SOS tops anything Williams accomplished, despite the lower QB rating. Stroud’s QB rating and SOS combination puts him above Duggan in our minds, despite the Buckeyes’ season.
Sure, Ohio State made the CFP somehow, but it shouldn’t have. Still, an 11-1 record is a great season, and a Rose Bowl berth would have come along with it. Bennett led the Bulldogs to an undefeated season, an SEC title, and a CFP berth—but his lower QB rating isn’t great, and he probably had more help from his teammates than Duggan did (see below). Hooker missed a few games, and the Volunteers didn’t even win their division in the SEC, so he’s out in this analysis.
The same goes for Young, who won the 2021 Heisman vote: the Crimson Tide, like the Vols, finished 10-2 and out of the conference title game. So, where does that leave us? Our top guys are Stroud, Duggan, Bennett, and Williams—in that order. What about other positions? There’s really no one else at the running back or receiver positions that dominated the sport in 2022. So, now we have to do some secondary analysis for contextual depth here, as usual:
- Ohio State: one RB over 600 yards, two WRs over 1,150 yards, No. 24 scoring defense
- TCU: one RB with 1,399 yards and one WR over 1,050 yards, No. 91 scoring defense
- Georgia: two RBs over 750 yards, two WRs over 750 yards, No. 5 scoring defense
- USC: two RBs over 700 yards, two WRs over 750 yards, No. 94 scoring defense
What we find here is that Duggan had the best offense supporting cast … with a lousy defense. Bennett and Williams had the most diverse supporting casts, with very different defenses. So, Bennett is out, because his teammates were the best of the bunch. Duggan and Williams have similar profiles, but let’s remember Duggan’s edge in SOS—which is significant, so Williams is out. That means we’re down to Stroud and Duggan here, and that gets more complicated (sort of?).
We have to note that Stroud led the nation in passing efficiency—and he did it against a Top 20 schedule. His team went 11-1, losing its final game of the season to keep it out of the B1G Championship Game, but even if the CFP berth was undeserving, the Buckeyes would have been given the Rose Bowl as a consolation prize. That’s hard to top as an overall Heisman profile, especially with the weakest running game among our four finalists. He’s our pick for this trophy.
Congratulations to C.J. Stroud, the real Heisman Trophy winner for 2022. That means in 67 seasons of review, we have confirmed just 19 winners of the Heisman vote. Think about that for awhile if you’re still wondering why we call it the Hypesman Trophy.