When a quarterback has 503 total yards in a win that vaults his team into serious playoff contention against its biggest rival, people are going to take notice. Not surprisingly, Caleb Williams' performance for USC against UCLA helped him ascend up the Heisman Trophy rankings from the No. 3 spot to No. 1, surpassing C.J. Stroud of Ohio State.
Blake Corum (Michigan) and Max Duggan (TCU) took advantage of some other contenders struggling to rejoin the top five. Even though Corum left Michigan's win over Illinois with a leg injury, he still rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown on only 18 carries. They replace Hendon Hooker (Tennessee) who tore his ACL late in a loss to South Carolina, and Drake Maye, whose Tar Heels were shocked by Georgia Tech.
And now Rivalry Week is here, so next week's rankings will most likely be shaken up once again. But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. Let's instead get to this week's Heisman standings, top Heisman moments of the week and what to watch for in this weekend's action.
Voting methodology: Twelve voters ranked their top five contenders, with five points for a first-place vote down to one point for a fifth-place vote.
Top five contenders
1. Caleb Williams, QB, USC
Total points: 52 (first-place votes: 8)
Week 12 notables: Williams made a Heisman-worthy statement against No. 16 UCLA. He completed 74.4% of his passes and threw for a career-high 470 yards and two touchdowns. He also contributed on the ground with 33 yards and a score to help lift the Trojans to a 48-45 victory over the crosstown rival Bruins. For weeks, Williams clung to his No. 3 standing in the Heisman race. But after his play on Saturday, he now leads the pack. This season, he is responsible for 40 total touchdowns, which is tied with Bo Nix (Oregon), Clayton Tune (Houston) and Austin Reed (Western Kentucky) for the most in the FBS.
Heisman odds: +100
2. C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Total points: 43 (first-place votes: 3)
Week 12 notables: Against Maryland, Stroud threw for 241 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions while completing 60% of his passes. Not a flashy day, but he got the job done to bring Ohio State to a 43-30 victory, and he made it three straight games without being sacked. Stroud's greatest test of the season will come this Saturday against Michigan, and his performance will hold a lot of weight on where he will finish in the Heisman race.
Heisman odds: -110
3. Max Duggan, QB, TCU
Total points: 28 (first-place votes: 0)
Week 12 notables: Once again, Duggan found a way to guide TCU to victory. He defied all odds to fuel No. 4 TCU to a 29-28 decision over Baylor. Duggan threw for 357 yards and one touchdown, completing 68.6% of his passes. He led the team in rushing with 50 yards and one score. And the Horned Frogs are 11-0 for the first time since 2010.
Heisman odds: +3000
4. Blake Corum, RB, Michigan
Total points: 22 (first-place votes: 0)
Week 12 notables: In Michigan's close victory over Illinois, Corum ran for 108 yards and one touchdown. He also had two receptions for 39 yards, before his day was cut short by a left knee injury before halftime. He returned for one carry in the second half but sat out the rest of the contest.
Heisman odds: +1500
5. Stetson Bennett, QB, Georgia
Total points: 8 (first-place votes: 0)
Week 12 notables: Bennett and No. 1 Georgia keep rolling. Against a pesky Kentucky defense, he completed 68.4% of his passes and threw for 116 yards with one interception. He also helped on the ground, running for 25 yards to help lift the Bulldogs past the Wildcats and to an 11-0 record.
Heisman odds: +5000
Blind comparisons: Heisman edition
For this week's Heisman watch, we're giving you four blind comparisons between current contenders and former winners. You'll read their stats without knowing exactly who they belong to. Some might not come as a shock, but some might surprise you with how they compare to others who are still in the conversation or have already proved themselves.
Blind QB comparison No. 1
Player A: 3,480 passing yards, 33 passing TDs, 3 INTs, 64.9% completion rate, 316 rushing yards, 7 rushing TDs, 85.4 Total QBR, 10-1 record
Player B: 3,584 passing yards, 38 passing TDs, 3 INTs, 71.7% completion rate, 14 rushing yards, 2 rushing TDs, 88.4 Total QBR, 10-1 record
Both players have accounted for 40 total touchdowns and are considered to be top draft picks when they enter the league. Player A is Caleb Williams' stat line from this year. Player B is Bryce Young through 11 games last season, when he won it all.
Blind QB comparison No. 2
Player A: 3,011 passing yards, 14 passing TDs, 6 INTs, 67.8% completion rate, 169 rushing yards, 7 rushing touchdowns, 84.5 Total QBR, 11-0 record
Player B: 2,858 passing yards, 26 passing TDs, 3 INTs, 66.2% completion rate, 291 rushing yards, 5 rushing TDs, 78.6 Total QBR, 11-0 record
Both players have led their teams to perfect 11-0 records and are considered to be "sleepers" in this year's race. Stetson Bennett (Player A) has amassed more passing yards and a greater Total QBR as the leader of the reigning national champions. However, Max Duggan (Player B) has 10 more total touchdowns, fewer interceptions and more rushing yards.
Blind QB comparison No. 3
Player A: 2,991 passing yards, 35 passing TDs, 4 INTs, 66.45% completion rate, 77 rushing yards, 89.7 Total QBR, 11-0 record
Player B: 3,614 passing yards, 34 passing TDs, 4 INTS, 68.8% completion rate, 597 rushing yards, 5 rushing TDs, 86.2 Total QBR, 9-2 record
Player B has nearly 700 more passing yards and over 500 more rushing yards than Player A, but Player A has a better Total QBR and has guided his team to a perfect 11-0 record. Both will be playing for their respective conference championships. It's a toss-up. Player A is Ohio State's C.J. Stroud, and Player B is North Carolina's Drake Maye.
Blind RB comparison No. 4
Player A: 19 TDs, 1,524 yards, 277 rushes, 5.5-yard average, 54 yards longest run
Player B: 18 TDs, 1,457 yards, 245 rushes, 5.9-yard average, 61 yards longest run
Player C: 21 TDs, 1,526 yards, 249 rushes, 6.1-yard average, 74 yards longest run
It's a long shot that Minnesota's Mohamed Ibrahim (Player A) or Michigan's Blake Corum (Player B) could rival Derrick Henry's (Player C) dominant Heisman Trophy-winning season from 2015 with Alabama, but through 11 games, their stats are not too far off. Ibrahim has eclipsed the 1,500-yard mark, and he and Corum are close to scoring 20 TDs.
Top Heisman moments this past week
1. Caleb Williams uses his physicality to escape pressure and find an open Kyle Ford for a 49-yard gain.
2. Look at this throw! Max Duggan shows off his arm strength to set up Kendre Miller for this 77-yard play.
Duggan, Barber connect for a 77-yard gain and TCU follows it with a TD
Max Duggan finds Taye Barber for a gain of 77 yards, Kendre Miller rushes in for the touchdown.
3. Blake Corum welcomed Illinois to the Big House with a 37-yard run that set up the Wolverines to score the first touchdown of the afternoon.
Heisman game of the week
With a trip to the Big Ten championship game, a spot in the College Football Playoff and the Heisman Trophy all on the line, no rivalry game this year has higher stakes than Michigan vs. Ohio State. Heisman hopefuls C.J. Stroud and Blake Corum will face off, and how each performs can make or break his candidacy for this year's race. Corum will face off against the No. 15 rush defense in Ohio State, while Stroud will compete against the No. 5 pass defense in Michigan. Last year, Stroud threw 349 yards and two touchdowns in the Buckeyes' 42-27 loss, while Corum had six carries for 87 yards as a backup to Hassan Haskins. After falling to the No. 2 spot in these Heisman rankings, if Stroud wants to return as the front-runner, this will be the game for him to make his case. Likewise, if Corum wants to demonstrate that he should move up the rankings, Saturday is the day to prove it.