Heisman Watch: Penix, Sanders surge in our breakdown of the top Pac-12 candidates

Welcome to our weekly look at the Pac-12’s leading Heisman Trophy candidates via a power ranking of the top players in the conference. Consider this one Heisman voter’s view of the conference hierarchy, which is packed with contenders for the first time in forever.

The rankings are based on a subjective assessment of individual performance, value to the team and quality of competition. And yes, we consider defensive players.

Three games down, and Michael Penix Jr.’s pursuit of the Heisman Trophy is unfolding exactly as Washington hoped, with as many boxes checked as touchdowns thrown.

Here we go:

— Big wins and gaudy stats? Check.

The Huskies are 3-0, ranked No. 8 in the Associated Press poll and rapidly amassing media attention. (UW is No. 1 in the Yahoo! and ESPN rankings this week.) Meanwhile, Penix leads the nation in passing yards (444 per game) and is second in touchdowns.

— Brilliance on big stages? Check.

Washington just ventured into Big Ten territory and blasted Michigan State as Penix completed 20-of-25 passes for 375 yards and four touchdowns in the first half. Kickoff was 2 p.m., providing plenty of time for ESPN and Fox to show game highlights to their national audiences throughout the afternoon and evening.

— Manageable national competition? Check.

Neither Ohio State, Alabama or Georgia possesses a top Heisman candidate this season. Penix’s primary challengers from powerhouse programs outside the Pacific Time Zone are quarterbacks from Texas (Quinn Ewers), Notre Dame (Sam Hartman) and Florida State (Jordan Travis). That’s not great, but it could be far worse.

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— Pac-12 showdowns looming? Check.

The conference has eight ranked teams and several other Heisman contenders, creating a slew of opportunities in high-profile matchups — on network television — for Penix to produce the indelible moments that fuel successful campaigns.

— Sweet spot with the oddsmakers? Check.

Penix is currently the No. 2 betting favorite for the Heisman behind USC quarterback Caleb Williams, the 2022 winner, according to odds posted by BetMGM. (Williams is 3.5/1, with Penix at 5.5/1.) The positioning provides necessary national recognition without the frontrunner status that can create an unreasonable bar.

All of which leads us to the following conclusion: If Penix maintains his level of play and the Huskies keep winning — they don’t need to go undefeated, however — then even a handful of games on the Pac-12 Networks won’t stop him from reaching New York City as a finalist.

Our Pac-12 player

Source:: East Bay – Entertainment


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