Michigan edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson, Pitt QB Kenny Pickett, Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud and Alabama QB Bryce Young were announced Monday as finalists for the 2021 Heisman Trophy, college football's most prestigious individual honor. Balloting closed on Monday as well, two days after contenders made their final impressions on voters in conference championship games. Voters include 870 media members, former Heisman winners and one vote cast collectively by fans. Five consecutive Heisman winners have gone on to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft -- DeVonta Smith, Joe Burrow, Kyler Murray, Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson -- three of whom were No. 1 overall picks.
The Heisman Trophy ceremony, held in New York City, will crown this year's winner on Saturday evening (8 p.m. ET on ESPN). Below, we rank the finalist field (listed in order of strength of candidacy):
1) Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
If the 97-yard touchdown drive Young engineered in the final two minutes of regulation against archrival Auburn on Nov. 27 wasn't enough of a signature game, his dismantling of Georgia on Saturday certainly fit the bill. National title hopes hung in the balance of both games, but setting an SEC Championship Game record with 421 passing yards against a defense ranked No. 1 in the nation makes Young an extremely heavy favorite to win the award. He's now thrown for 4,322 yards with 43 TD passes against just four interceptions. It's his honor to lose.
2) C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
In his first season as a starter, Stroud lit up the Big Ten for 38 touchdowns against just five interceptions, and he should eclipse 4,000 yards against Utah in the Rose Bowl. It was a stellar start to the redshirt freshman's career, to be sure, but it won't help his cause that he wasn't playing Saturday when other candidates had a final chance to advance their cases in conference title games. That said, he certainly made a late impression with two November wins over ranked teams (Michigan State, Purdue) in which he completed 63-of-73 passes with 11 TDs and no interceptions.