Oregon Ducks Football: Nix’s Shot at the Heisman

Alex Heining Editorials

In Bo Nix’s last season as a part of the Oregon Ducks football program, he has one more shot at the Heisman Trophy. With Oregon’s recruiting momentum and stellar offseason, this will likely be his best shot of any season previously to turn the corner, solidify his draft stock for the NFL in 2024, and earn college’s biggest individual award in the sport. But as any award goes, there’s going to be steep competition for Nix to navigate through in the coming months.

Of course, we aren’t focusing on the Heisman Trophy as Oregon fans by any means. We want to see a great season from the Ducks, and if that means Nix is a Heisman finalist at the end of the year, so be it.

Here’s a quick outlook on his odds today, how the schedule will play a role in his evaluation for the award, and what’s going to have to happen in this offense for him to earn the honor.

Marvin Harrison Jr. was one of the most dominant players in college football last year, and had almost zero chance at winning the Heisman Trophy.

The Current Heisman Odds

Nix is sitting at a +1200 over at FanDuel, tied with Jordan Travis and Michael Penix Jr. as the second-place favorite behind Caleb Williams as the leader in the clubhouse. Williams won in 2022 and could easily repeat, but still: Nix has the talent and continuity around him to play at a really high level. Additionally, he has a head-to-head matchup with Williams where he can really prove himself as a top quarterback, which regrettably really is what the Heisman trophy has become in recent years.

Similar to the NFL MVP award, the Heisman has virtually become a quarterback achievement. Unfortunately for the rest of the players on the field besides quarterbacks, there’s a slim-to-zero chance they even get nominated for the Heisman Trophy at this point. However, there is a commonality in most of the top finalists: superstar receivers. Take Marvin Harrison Jr. for example. A touchdown monster in 2022, and without an injury in Ohio State’s playoff game, Harrison Jr. could have shot up from his sixth ranking to top-three as a receiving leader in 2022.

Now, did this put him in real Heisman contention? How ‘bout a big no. CJ Stroud, his soon-to-be NFL star quarterback is who earned that honor.

Still, regardless of if they’re recognized in Heisman contention, the point is that receivers have become a premium at the NFL level, and it’s starting to reflect even more so in college. Luckily, Nix has a receiving connection he’s ready to build on in 2023.

Oregon Ducks Football - Troy Franklin - FishDuck.com in Eugene, OR

Franklin has taken a huge leap with Nix, and should continue to elevate his game in 2023.

Oregon’s deep passing game popped at the perfect time with Nix in 2022, and now he has the luxury of entering 2022 with a rising star at the position to contend for one of those top receiver spots in 2023. Troy Franklin made a huge leap with Nix running the offense, and should take another step in his potential final season with the Ducks.

Overall, the quarterback favoritism in Heisman voting pans out for Nix’s chances at winning the trophy, but is a tough reality for the rest of college football. At least Franklin can help Nix along in bumping his passing yards up and winning some football games for the Ducks. As a true asset in a new offense, Franklin is indispensable, in my eyes.

Should Oregon Football Fear USC? - Oregon Ducks Football

USC highlights Oregon’s November schedule for the 2023 season.

Our Oregon Ducks Football Schedule in 2023

Oregon’s schedule this year isn’t particularly difficult (then again, it’s April; a lot can change between now and September) I expect the same string of games against Utah, USC, and Washington to define the Ducks’ season, as well as Nix’s shot at the Heisman Trophy.

In any case, three victories across these games would put the Ducks in a prime position to earn a spot in the College Football Playoff. While that might be good for the team, this might throw a wrench in Nix’s Heisman hopes.

Unfortunately, a lack of ranked opponents will likely drop Nix down a peg in the strength-of-schedule category of evaluation. He’s going to really have to stack up the individual numbers on the ground and through the air to set himself apart early. Late in the year, though, if he can lead the Ducks to a victory over the (presumed) Heisman favorite in Williams? He should be a shoo-in to end up as a finalist.

Kenny Dillingham - Oregon Ducks Football- FishDuck.com in Eugene, OR

Kenny Dillingham, Bo Nix’s career lightning rod, left the program for greener pastures this season.

The X-Factor of the Heisman Equation

How does Nix respond without Kenny Dillingham? Can he keep the pedal down without his superstar offensive coordinator?

Without Dillingham, I expect great things of Nix still. There may be some early growing pains, though those should smooth over to consistent, efficient play from the senior. Will Stein has a pretty good-looking blueprint of how to shape this offense in order to get the most out of Nix.

Bo Nix vs BYU, Oregon Ducks Football in Autzen Stadium - Eugene, OR

All eyes are on Nix to take the Ducks to a championship in 2023.

The Bottom Line for Our Ducks in 2023

Overall, Nix is going to have a tough road ahead of him if he’s going to win the Heisman Trophy. A lack of schedule strength could be his downfall, though with a few big-time wins late in the year, I could easily see him being a finalist at the very least.

Even though team success will always come first, wouldn’t it be more than just a cherry on top though to have a great season cap off with Nix joining Marcus Mariota as the second Heisman winner in school history? Not to mention, the insane boost it would provide for recruiting quarterbacks in the near future?

Personally, I like his odds. But what about you, Oregon fans?

Is this Nix’s year to win the Heisman Trophy, or are there too many question marks to make a case in April? If Nix is on track to be a Heisman finalist late in the year, how will this impact Oregon’s shot at the College Football Playoff? Let us know your thoughts in the FishDuck Forum with decorum!

Go Ducks!

Alex Heining
Los Angeles, California
Top Photo By: Gary Breedlove

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