Goz's 2023 Official Heisman Trophy Ballot

For the ninth year in a row, I was fortunate enough to represent New York State's Capital Region as a voter for college football's Heisman Trophy.

Below was the official ballot I cast for this year's award. Four things are important to remember 1) official voters can only cast a ballot for three players. (3 points for first place, 2 points for second, 1 point for third place) 2) My voting process follows that which is required by each Heisman voter. The award asks voters to cast their ballots for the most outstanding players in college football in the United States whose performances best exhibit the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work. 3) Every single college football player in the country is eligible for the award, regardless of the level of play 4) My ballot is cast BEFORE the finalists are announced. The Heisman Trophy finalists are determined AFTER the voting is tabulated. The deadline to submit your ballot was Monday December 4th. I submitted my ballot on Sunday December 3rd. 

Remember to listen to Fox Sports 95.9/980AM Albany and on the IHeart app to Sunday December10th's show live from Rivers Casino and Resort in Schenectady as Levack and I hit the airwaves from 11am-1pm. Do you agree or disagree with the ballot? Let your voice be heard by sharing it live on site or on Fox Sports' social media platforms below

@TomGozz Twiter, @WOFX980 and Fox Sports 980 on Facebook.

First place vote: Michael Penix Jr, Washington

In what was another very competitive year for the award, my first-place vote was rewarded to Michael Penix Jr from Washington. Penix Jr helped lead Washington to an undefeated season, a Pac 12 championship and spot in the college football playoff. Penix led the FBS in total passing yards and ranked third in total passing touchdowns. When evaluating potential contenders for the award, one category I focus on is how the potential candidates performed in the most important games of the season for their respective teams. Penix continued to show his excellence in those matchups. In four games against ranked opponents that finished their season all in the top 20, Penix Jr combined for seven passing touchdown a rushing touchdown and nearly 1,200 passing yards. In games where the opposition finished their season above .500, Penix Jr helped his squad to a perfect 7-0 record. Penix Jr's performances against the best competition separated him from the rest of the contenders this season. 

Second place vote: Bo Nix Oregon

The signal caller for the Oregon Ducks grabbed my second plate vote on this year's ballot. Nix helped lead Oregon to a 11-2 record with both losses coming on the road and at neutral field by just three points against Washington. Nix led the nation in passing touchdowns and finished second in total passing yards. In his team's three matchups against ranked opponents Nix finished with 943 yards and seven touchdowns, one rushing touchdown but a team record of 1-2. As noted above, the separation in evaluating candidates was Penix's performances helping lead the Huskies to a 7-0 record against teams above .500, Nix was 3-2 with two of those losses against Washington. The difference in quality of opponent and performance separated these West Coast quarterbacks on my ballot from the first and second place vote.

Third place vote: Jayden Daniels LSU

As I sit here and write my yearly ballot recap I'm very aware that once the results are announced Saturday night, Jayden Daniels could be the first player that eventually wins the Heisman, that finishes as low as third on my ballot. It's important to share this friendly reminder...

In comparison to what I do daily on Levack and Goz (Weekdays 3-5pm on Fox Sports 95.9 and 980 and on the IHeart app, also available on demand on Apple and Spotify) I'm NOT trying to predict who will win the award. I'm VOTING for the award. I know a potential critique from readers/listeners will be a "you got it wrong" take. When voting for awards (and truly the concept of voting in general) it's not about getting it "right or wrong" it's about who you think is the candidate that you believe stands out above the rest and deserves to win this award.

Daniels finished third in the country in passing (behind both Penix Jr and Nix) and tied with Nix with the most passing touchdowns in the country. Some have focused on the difference in Daniels' candidacy vs Nix and Penix Jr was rushing yardage. Daniels registered 1,134 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. As noted above, when evaluating this year's candidates, how did each potential candidate perform in their marquee games? In the four games against ranked teams, Daniels passed for 1,238 and ten touchdowns along with 425 rushing yards and four touchdowns. In those games, Daniels squad posted an 1-3 record. In fact, besides those four games, Daniels and his LSU Tiger teammates played only played one more team that finished 2023 with an above .500 record. That other team was Texas A&M who the Tigers did in fact defeat, however Texas A&M was led by an interim coach in that game.

I'm surprised by the national buzz around Daniels' Heisman campaign. In comparing his numbers and performances in big games, how is his candidacy different than non Heisman winners including Graham Harrel in 2008? Jordan Lynch in 2013? Dwayne Haskins in 2018? Manziel and Lamar Jackson's follow up seasons after their Heisman wins in which they did not repeat?

Most voters will focus on Daniels' game against a 5-7 Florida team as his breakout performance.

20% of his season yardage game in that one game alone. 12% of Daniels' total rushing yards the entire season resulted from just two plays in that game. To add even further context to his season output..

35% of Daniels' season total yardage came against Florida, Grambling State, Army and Georgia State. 

28% of Daniels' rushing yards came on just six plays.

The consistency of Penix Jr and Nix from start to finish of the season separated my candidates on the ballot this season.

Who almost made the ballot?

Marvin Harrison Jr had a very strong season for Ohio State and was close to making the ballot. In an ironic twist, it's the third year in a row a Buckeye would have received my 4th place vote if that's how the ballot was calculated (Stroud in 2021 and 2022) Harrison Jr's bid for the award is similar to Jayden Daniels' above. His lack of strong showings against upper level competition hurt his candidacy. Harrison Jr had just 3 catches and 30 yards against Notre Dame. The Buckeyes defeated just two ranked teams the entire season. Would Harrison Jr's resume had improved if he had a stronger individual showing in a win over Michigan and even in the Big Ten title? Absolutely. That did not work in the young wide out's favor. 

Congratulations to all four 2023 finalists. Looking forward to the upcoming bowl season, college football playoff and 2023's college football season. 

 Tom "Goz" Goslowski covers college football from Division 1 to Division 3 across Upstate New York. Goz has represented New York's Capital Region as a Heisman Trophy voter since 2015. Goslowski was also featured as a voter in other national awards this season including the Bronko Nagurski Award, Outland Trophy Award, Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award and Maxwell Player of the Year.

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