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Why-sman: Making the Case for All 4 Heisman Finalists


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In the blink of an eye, the 2022 college football season is nearly over. I know -- doesn't it feel like it kicked off yesterday?

This year has been full of ups and downs. App State upset Texas A&M to start the Aggies' downward spiral. Notre Dame fell against Marshall in Marcus Freeman's second game as the Irish's head coach. Brian Kelly started as a joke at LSU, then took the Tigers to the SEC Championship Game. Alabama rolled until it didn't against Tennessee and LSU. USC coach Lincoln Riley showed he wins wherever he goes.

After all this and then some, Georgia, Michigan, TCU, and Ohio State make up the College Football Playoff field. Should be a dandy.

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Then there's the Heisman Trophy. To little surprise, three of the four Heisman finalists are quarterbacks of teams who made the CFP, while the fourth had his team on the cusp. The quartet heading to New York City is Georgia's Stetson Bennett, TCU's Max Duggan, Ohio State's C.J. Stroud, and USC's Caleb Williams.

Unlike previous years -- and last year when Alabama's Bryce Young walked away with it -- it was a rollercoaster of a race. That said, let's look at the finalists and make a case for why each deserves to join college football's most exclusive fraternity.

Stetson Bennett, Georgia

Georgia QB Stetson Bennett drops back to pass against Tennessee.

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RELATED: Stetson Bennett's Twin Brothers are His Biggest Supporters

Odds: +3000

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Bennett would assuredly win if this were the NFL, as he had a great season leading the nation's best team. However, a lot of people diminish his chances for being surrounded by the most talented roster in the country. That's what people, not me, are saying, at least.

Bennett has made lemonade out of lemons, though. He no longer has deterrents questioning his ability to lead a championship team, and he had the best statistical season of his college career this year.

The Georgia QB threw for 3,425 yards and 20 touchdowns against six interceptions while completing 67.9% of his passes. Not bad for a guy who was once a walk-on. If you wanna nitpick, he ranks 23rd in the country in pass efficiency with a mark of 154.6. Heaven forbid he's barely in the top 25.

Greatness fatigue is as real as ever in college football. People are growing tired of Georgia, so some think Tennessee's Hendon Hooker or Oregon's Bo Nix should have his spot in the Big Apple.

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Let's be real, though. Bennett killed it this season. He has the Bulldogs looking like a juggernaut and is the greatest QB in program history -- as UGA great Aaron Murray pointed out. Even more so if he can lead the team to back-to-back national titles. Georgia's greatest weakness from last year is now one of its greatest strengths. That deserves recognition.

Max Duggan, TCU

Max Duggan passes in the Big 12 Championship Game against Kansas State.

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RELATED: Max Duggan: From Heart Surgery to Heartbeat of TCU's Magical Season

Odds: +2000

Max Duggan is the people's Heisman winner. How could he not be after his gutsy performance in the Big 12 Championship Game? Yeah, yeah. His Frogs lost to Kansas State, but no one left it on the field like Duggan did.

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And what a story his season has been, too. After starting for three years, first-year head coach Sonny Dykes named Chandler Morris the starter coming out of fall camp. Morris went down in the third quarter of the opening game against Colorado, Duggan relieved him, and the rest is history.

TCU's signal caller threw for 3,321 yards and 30 touchdowns against four interceptions while completing 64.9% of his passes. He ranked in the top 16 in passing yards and touchdowns through the air and ninth in passing efficiency (165.48). Of course, he was the heart behind one of the best seasons in TCU history and gave the Frogs a chance to win a national championship.

Duggan's Heisman moment was leading the Frogs on an 80-yard game-tying drive in the final minutes of the fourth quarter against K-State last week. He notched runs of 15, 13, 19, and 40 yards before capping it off with an eight-yard scamper. He could barely walk off the field from pure exhaustion. It was awesome.

Duggan is the second-favorite as far as odds go but had TCU pulled off the victory against K-State, it'd be a crime if he didn't win.

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CJ Stroud, Ohio State

CJ Stroud scrambles against Maryland.

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RELATED: CJ Stroud's Dad Remains in Prison, But His Mom Kim Has Been His Rock

Odds: +5000

The Heisman was CJ Stroud's to lose throughout the season...until his Buckeyes were embarrassed by Michigan. Stroud led the country in passing touchdowns (37) and passing efficiency (176.24), but he fell short against the Wolverines -- the only game that truly mattered this season.

Statistically, the Ohio State Buckeye played well, throwing for 349 yards and two touchdowns against two interceptions. When you lose the way Ohio State did, though, it's hard to rebound.

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Recency bias matters. Big games matter. Stroud couldn't lead his team over their archrival for the second consecutive season. And a 45-23 blowout at home left a sour taste. His Heisman chances vanished with the loss.

Still, Stroud could redeem himself by leading Ohio State to a national championship.

Caleb Williams, USC

Caleb Williams runs for a touchdown against Notre Dame.

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RELATED: Caleb Williams Paints His Fingernails, But Not Always to Talk Smack

Odds: -2500

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It'd be shocking if Caleb Williams isn't the 88th Heisman Trophy winner. He's the overwhelming favorite, mainly because of his strong finish to the season.

Following USC's loss to Utah on October 15, Willimas averaged 345.7 yards through the air and tossed 18 touchdowns to three interceptions over the Trojans' final six games. He got it done with his feet, too, rushing for seven scores over the same period, including a three-touchdown performance against Notre Dame.

Williams did all this even with USC's leaky offensive line, allowing him to perform some Mahomesian maneuvers and forcing him to run for his life. The Trojan signal caller got hurt in the Pac-12 Championship Game loss to Utah. Still, he was the only reason USC stayed competitive because his defense put on a horrific tackling display.

Should he win, which is highly likely, it would be Lincoln Riley's third Heisman-winning quarterback in six years. That's nuts.

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MORE: The 10 Worst Heisman Trophy Winners of All Time, Ranked

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