Ohio State football quarterback C.J. Stroud named Heisman Trophy finalist for second time

Joey Kaufman
The Columbus Dispatch

Since finalists for the Heisman Trophy began attending the ceremony in 1982, no player from Ohio State has gone more than once.

That will change with C.J. Stroud.

For a second consecutive season, Stroud is headed to New York, invited as one of four finalists for the most prestigious player of the year award in college football. The others announced included three fellow quarterbacks — Georgia’s Stetson Bennett, Texas Christian’s Max Duggan and Southern California’s Caleb Williams.

Stroud, a prolific passer who led the Buckeyes on their path toward a berth in the College Football Playoff, spent most of this season as the Heisman frontrunner, remaining ahead of an ever-changing pool of candidates.  But the odds of him lifting the trophy to conclude Saturday’s ceremony at the Lincoln Center in Manhattan appear stacked against him. Another humbling loss to Michigan caused Stroud to lose ground in the race.

C.J. Stroud has passed for 3,340 yards and 37 touchdowns with six interceptions this season.

While Stroud did not play poorly against the Wolverines, throwing for 349 yards and two touchdowns, he was less than spectacular on the high-profile stage, unable to engineer a comeback in the second half that might have solidified his position in a push. As Ohio State fell by three touchdowns to its archrival, he was twice picked off in the fourth quarter, the only time this season that he had thrown multiple interceptions in a game.

The biggest ramification from the defeat might have been that it prevented the Buckeyes from reaching the Big Ten championship game on Saturday. As they remained idle over the weekend, Stroud lacked an opportunity to impress voters as a part of any sort of closing case for the award.

Could Ohio State missing the Big Ten title game hurt C.J. Stroud's Heisman chances?

Other candidates were left more front of mind. Both Duggan and Williams appeared in conference championship games, though their teams lost. Williams suffered a hamstring injury that especially limited him in USC’s loss to Utah in the Pac-12 title game.

But after leading the Trojans to the brink of a playoff berth after their worst season in three decades, Williams is seen as the top contender for the Heisman. He's accounted for 47 touchdowns, including throwing for 37 and running for 10, more than any of the top candidates.

As a finalist last season, Stroud finished fourth in the voting behind Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, who was the winner, as well as Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson and Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett.

Stroud's statistics are not as flashy as last season when he threw for more than 4,000 yards. He's passed for 3,340 yards and 37 touchdowns to six interceptions this fall. But no quarterback in the Football Bowl Subdivision has been more efficient. His 176.25 passer rating is atop the FBS.

Ohio State continues its streak of Heisman Trophy finalists

The Buckeyes have had a finalist for the Heisman in four out of the past five years. In addition to Stroud, quarterback Justin Fields and defensive end Chase Young were finalists in 2019, as was quarterback Dwayne Haskins in 2018.

The highest any of them finished was third, including both Fields and Haskins. Young also came in fourth.

Joey Kaufman covers Ohio State football for The Columbus Dispatch. Contact him at or on Twitter @joeyrkaufman.

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