The Ohio State Buckeyes are a dominant team with a few elite players. Who is a better Heisman Trophy candidate for them: Chase Young or Justin Fields?
The Ohio State Buckeyes improved to 11-0 (8-0) on the season after knocking off the division rival Penn State Nittany Lions at The Horseshoe on Saturday afternoon. Ohio State dominated the first half but got a great challenge early in the second half by Penn State to at least make this a game. With this win, Ohio State has clinched the Big Ten East and will play for a conference title.
Even if the Buckeyes fall on the road against the archrival Michigan Wolverines next Saturday, they can still reach the College Football Playoff for the third time in school history by beating the Big Ten West winner, either the Minnesota Golden Gophers or the Wisconsin Badgers, in Indianapolis in a few weeks.
So we know that Ohio State is clearly the best team north of the Mason-Dixon Line in college football. The Buckeyes are the presumptive favorite to win the Big Ten and reach the College Football Playoff, but what we don’t know is who is the better Heisman Trophy candidate on their roster. Is it defensive end Chase Young or quarterback Justin Fields? Will they both get an invite?
Young is the best NFL Draft prospect in college football. He set a school record for the most quarterback sacks in a season in the win vs. Penn State, breaking Vernon Gholston‘s mark set in 2007. There is not a more disruptive player in college football, but there are three things working against Young in his quest to be the second defensive player to ever win the Heisman Trophy.
The first is that he plays on the defensive side of the ball. This is predominantly a quarterback-driven award, with the occasional high-profile running back winning it every few years or so. The second thing working against him is that he might split the Big Ten vote with Fields should they both go to New York. The third thing is that he was suspended for two games earlier this season.
Young’s suspension stemmed from him receiving a loan to send his girlfriend to the Rose Bowl last season. He missed both the Maryland Terrapins game and the Rutgers Scarlet Knights game, contests that the Buckeyes were going to dominate anyway, regardless of if Young played or not.
Fields is increasingly likely to receive an invitation to attend the Heisman Trophy ceremony. He’s not a favorite by any means, as LSU Tigers quarterback Joe Burrow has run away with it in recent weeks. However, it was Tua Tagovailoa‘s award to lose last year. He played terribly in the SEC Championship Game vs. Georgia and it was Kyler Murray who took the Heisman away from him.
So it’s easier for a guy like Fields to win the award because he plays quarterback on an explosive offense and didn’t miss a game due to suspension like his teammate Young did earlier this season. But does that make Fields the more intriguing candidate over Young? Not exactly.
Young is the best talent in college football and is having a tremendous season. It would be so cool to see him win the Heisman, but he’s not going to because he’s not a quarterback. For that reason, Fields gives Ohio State the best chance at winning, but that doesn’t mean he’s the best candidate. Overall, the Heisman needs to become more than an award for quarterbacks to win.