Heisman campaign for USC QB Caleb Williams kicks into gear

LOS ANGELES — USC’s thrilling 48-45 victory over UCLA last weekend did a lot for the Trojans as a whole. They clinched a spot in the Pac-12 title game. They moved up to No. 6 in the College Football Playoff rankings. They painted the Victory Bell cardinal.

But the win in the prime time broadcast on Fox also gave the rest of the country one of its best looks at USC quarterback Caleb Williams yet as the sophomore put together a career night, accounting for 503 total yards and three touchdowns.

The national attention on his performance in the win has led to Williams being a prominent name in the Heisman Trophy conversation.

Williams’ odds to win the prestigious award – given annually to college football’s best player – skyrocketed, with some books going so far as to make Williams the favorite now with less than two weeks left until finalists are announced.

“He’s been doing that,” receiver Kyle Ford said. “It’s more people are starting to be put on notice. With winning comes a little more notoriety and respect, especially for him.”

As things sit entering Week 13, Williams, who did not show up for his regular Wednesday media availability this week, ranks sixth nationally in passing yards per game (316.4). He is tied for fourth with 33 passing touchdowns this year with just three interceptions, fewer than any other quarterback in the top 10 in touchdowns thrown.

And that’s just what he’s done with his arm while also contributing 88 carries for 316 yards and an additional seven rushing touchdowns.

But most importantly, Williams helped a USC team that went 4-8 a year ago start the season 10-1 with the chance to win a Pac-12 title and make the College Football Playoff.

“He’s just a gamer, he’s a winner,” Ford said. “We were down 14-0 (at UCLA) and this dude’s still laughing on the sideline. In a good way, he’s not messing around. He’s like, ‘We’re good.’ So I think that’s more than anything, you go out there with a certain confidence with him.”

Two weeks ago, head coach Lincoln Riley – who coached two Heisman winners at Oklahoma – said of Williams, “Up to this point, I don’t think there’s been a better or more valuable player in college football than him.”

Following the UCLA game, USC began in earnest a campaign to win Williams what would be the school’s seventh Heisman – eighth if you count the award vacated by running back Reggie Bush due to NCAA violations.

The official USC football Twitter account posted a video highlighting Williams’ contributions this season, both on the field and with his foundation Caleb Cares. Along with the video, USC used the hashtag “HE13MAN”, weaving Williams’ jersey number into the award’s namesake.

𝐇𝐞 𝐢𝐬… #HE13MAN https://t.co/yOQXcvDfyN pic.twitter.com/a5cR2gvGSg

— USC Football (@uscfb) November 21, 2022



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Place-kicker Denis Lynch went 2 for 4 on field goal attempts against UCLA, bringing his season total to 12 for 18 in his first year as the Trojans’ primary kicker. On Tuesday, Riley was asked about his confidence in Lynch moving forward.

“Very high. The holder booped his foot on the first one, he kicked the holder’s foot,” Riley said. “He just didn’t hit a great ball on the second one. Those happen. But then he comes back and drills a 49-yarder into the wind that ended up being the differentiating points in the game. … We got a lot of confidence in Denis and I think Denis showed his confidence by going back and nailing that one.”