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Heisman race runs deep after Week 5, with three ACC QBs in top 10 rankings


The hype heading into Alabama and Ole Miss deflated by halftime, when the Crimson Tide pulled into the locker room up 28-0 in an eventual 42-21 win.

Amid another blowout from the defending national champions, the hotly anticipated quarterback matchup between Bryce Young and Matt Corral was not quite as lopsided. While Young was the star of the game, giving the sophomore a big lead for the Heisman Trophy, Corral’s performance will keep him in the mix for postseason hardware.

But unlike the race for the national championship, which has centered on the Tide and Georgia, the competition for which quarterback will be crowned the best in the Football Bowl Subdivision goes five or six deep. Our Week 5 rankings:

1. Bryce Young, Alabama

Young has thrown multiple touchdowns in each of his five starts and gone for at least 240 yards in each of the four games against FBS competition, leaving him second among Power Five quarterbacks in touchdowns and efficiency rating. While he’s had an interception in each of his last two games, those are the only two turnovers in 148 attempts. There’s also the matter of his head-to-head win against Corral and the Rebels.

2. Matt Corral, Ole Miss

The bottom line isn’t good: Ole Miss was run out of the building and Corral was largely held under wraps until midway into the third quarter, when the Tide had already run up a 35-0 lead. But the junior ended up completing 21 of 29 attempts for 213 yards and two scores, one on the ground. Since 2014, the only quarterbacks to complete at least 65% of their throws with at least one touchdown and no interceptions against Alabama are Joe Burrow and Corral, who has done so in each of the last two meetings.

3. Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati

Issues in the red zone and on special teams made Cincinnati sweat out a 24-13 win against Notre Dame that seemed close to breaking open in the third quarter. Once again, Ridder did the heavy lifting. He had 323 yards of total offense, averaged 9.3 yards per attempt and scored three times, including the game-sealing touchdown after the Irish had drawn within a possession. Two wins against Power Five competition and a chance to break into the playoff are the linchpins of Ridder’s Heisman case.

The Panthers’ most productive quarterback since Dan Marino ranks in the top five nationally in touchdowns, efficiency rating, passing yards and total offense. In Saturday’s romp of Georgia Tech, Pickett broke Marino’s program record for touchdown passes in a three-game span with 15. With two months left, he’s well within range of every major school mark. But what really makes the senior a Heisman candidate is the fact that Pittsburgh may be the best team in the ACC.

5. C.J. Stroud, Ohio State

C.J. Stroud hangs out with fans after the Buckeyes' 52-13 victory against Rutgers.

C.J. Stroud hangs out with fans after the Buckeyes’ 52-13 victory against Rutgers.

Stroud bounced back from last month’s loss to Oregon and missing the Akron win due to injury to throw for 330 yards and five touchdowns against Rutgers, by far the best performance of his young career. For all the attention paid to the Buckeyes’ underwhelming defense, the offense has delivered under the first-year starter: Ohio State leads the FBS at 8.6 yards per play while Stroud tops all Power Five quarterbacks at 10.4 yards per pass.

6. Sam Howell, North Carolina

Howell has been off and on, as have the Tar Heels. Unsurprisingly, the two are connected. Howell is completing 59.2% of his attempts on 7.2 yards per throw with three touchdowns and three interceptions in UNC’s two losses. In the Tar Heels’ three wins, the junior is hitting on 64.6% of his throws on 12.0 yards per pass with 11 touchdowns and just one interception. That the two losses have come away from home is interesting but far from a trend given the minor difference in home-road splits during Howell’s breakout 2020 season.

7. Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina

McCall completed all 13 of his attempts for 212 yards and two touchdowns before exiting with an ankle injury at halftime of the Chanticleers’ 59-6 rout of Louisiana-Monroe. He leads the FBS in completion percentage at a whopping 80.2%, as well as in quarterback efficiency and yards per throw by a sizable margin. McCall’s efficiency rating sits at 224.9, ahead of the FBS single-season record of 203.1 set last year by Alabama’s Mac Jones. McCall’s lowest rating in a single game so far this season is 210.4, against Kansas in September.

8. Malik Willis, Liberty

Willis and Liberty bounced back from a dreadful loss against Syracuse to beat Alabama-Birmingham 36-12. The win featured the most productive performance of his career: Willis threw for 303 yards on 15.9 yards per attempt, ran for 144 yards and accounted for three scores.

9. Tanner Mordecai, SMU

Mordecai keeps throwing touchdowns — he’s sitting at 24 through five games, setting the Oklahoma transfer on pace for a remarkable statistical season — and keeps turning the ball over in coach Sonny Dykes’ high-volume offense. Mordecai is averaging one interception for every 30.2 throws, well ahead of former SMU quarterback Shane Buechele’s clip in the past two seasons: one for every 49 attempts in 2019 and one for every 61.7 in 2020. A key turnover would mean the difference for SMU in next month’s trip to Cincinnati, for example.

10. Sam Hartman, Wake Forest

Another two touchdowns in a 37-34 win against Louisville gives Hartman 44 for his career, moving him into a tie for fourth in program history and leaving him just 16 shy of Riley Skinner’s record with at least eight games left in his redshirt sophomore season. With the score tied at 34 with just under three minutes left, Hartman drove the offense 60 yards in 11 plays to set up the game-winning field goal with 22 seconds left.

Follow colleges reporter Paul Myerberg on Twitter @PaulMyerberg

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Alabama, Ole Miss QBs aren’t the only ones in heated Heisman hunt



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