NCAAF: Strike The Pose - Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy is having his Heisman Moment

NCAA Football Sports News


  • McCarthy has thrown for 1,799 yards and 18 touchdowns for the 8-0 Michigan Wolverines. He is second in the nation in QB rating and completion percentage.
  • Michigan has a bye this weekend, before ending the regular season with games against Purdue, Penn State, Maryland and Ohio State.
  • Charles Woodson was the last Heisman Trophy winner from Michigan in 1997.

No Michigan quarterback has ever won the Heisman Trophy. Not Tom Brady. Not Jim Harbaugh (but the current Michigan coach was third in the voting back in 1986). If the season ended today, that might not be true anymore.

Current Wolverines starter J.J. McCarthy had his coming out party on national television Saturday night dissecting Michigan State with four TD passes and a season-high 287 yards. Once on the fringe of the Heisman chase, McCarthy is now the leader with four big games to go.

Michigan sportsbooks love McCarthy to become the school’s fourth Heisman winner. PointsBet has McCarthy as the current favorite at +175. BetMGM Sportsbook has McCarthy the choice at +240. Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. is still the top pick at BetRivers.

The Case for McCarthy

McCarthy hadn’t been asked to do a lot in the Wolverines first seven games. In fact, in most of the games he didn’t play in the fourth quarter.

Against rival Michigan State, and with a backdrop of controversy over Michigan’s alleged sign-stealing scheme, McCarthy was unflappable. He’s now second in the nation in completion percentage at 78.1 percent (behind Bo Nix of Oregon) but he’s not throwing short passes. He’s second in the country in yards per attempt, eighth in TD passes, and Michigan ranks sixth in scoring offense.

McCarthy will also get a chance to show off again for Heisman voters in marquee games against Penn State and Ohio State down the stretch.

McCarthy’s Challengers for the Heisman

The Heisman Trophy, given annually to the best player in college football, has become a quarterback contest over the last decade. Six of the last seven Heisman winners have been QBs and 11 of the last 13.

Some don’t like this trend, but it indicates how valuable a quarterback is in college football in 2023. McCarthy’s challengers all look to be other quarterbacks. Penix Jr. is a running/throwing threat for Washington, but had a bad game Saturday against Arizona State.

LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels leads the nation with 25 TD passes, and he will have a real shot to make his name in a game against Alabama in two weeks.

Last year’s winner, USC quarterback Caleb Williams, was the favorite entering the season, but his stock has collapsed after losses to Notre Dame and Utah.

Michigan’s Heisman History

Michigan’s last Heisman finalist (top five) was defensive back/returner Jabrill Peppers (now with the Patriots) back in 2016. Wolverines running back Blake Corum finished seventh last year in the voting.

For all it’s illustrious college football history, Michigan claims only three Heisman winners (Ohio State has seven): Charles Woodson in 1997, Desmond Howard in 1991 and halfback Tom Harmon in 1940.

Woodson and Howard went on to the NFL. Tom Harmon became better known as the father of famous actor Mark Harmon.

The Heisman Trophy ceremony will be Saturday, Dec. 9 on ESPN.

Born and raised in Louisiana, Darren Cooper has a fond appreciation for bayous, Mardi Gras beads and the sports betting industry. Darren has worked for multiple print and online publications since 1998, primarily as a sports columnist in the Northeast. He’s covered a Super Bowl (it was a blowout), the World Series (same) and the NBA Draft (man, those guys are tall). For the last few years he’s dug deep into the sports gambling industry as it exploded across America, learning how the legal sausage is made and how while all the sportsbooks look the same, they all have different identities and styles. He’s learned to always bet within his means -- and take the under. When not in front of his computer creating, Darren spends time with his three boys. He runs, reads and is always looking for the next big thing to write about.