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Leading college football in total touchdowns, ranking third in passing yards, and sitting tied for passing touchdowns would unequivocally put any quarterback as the favorite for the Heisman Trophy.

Not Drake Maye.

The UNC signal caller is lacking the notoriety for the prestigious award not because other candidates' stats are better, but because of the name on the front of his jersey.

Maye doesn't don the Alabama crimson top or the Buckeye stickers on his helmet, putting him at a disadvantage for an award he should be competing for.

Two main arguments have been used to dispel Maye from the Heisman conversation: he plays in the ACC against "bad" defenses and North Carolina isn't ranked as high as teams such as Ohio State, Tennessee, or Southern California.

Let's take a look at why Maye deserves to be in consideration and how he has fared against common opponents.

Top 50 Defenses Faced

Naysayers of the redshirt freshman quarterback have argued that the SEC or Big Ten candidates have faced much better defenses than those in the ACC.

Through the season's first 10 games, Maye has competed against five top 50 defenses in college football. Following the conclusion of the regular season and the ACC Championship, he will have faced seven.

In the SEC, where it just means more, Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker has also faced five defenses inside the top 50. Unlike Maye, he will not face anymore until potentially the postseason.

Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud has faced six top 50 defenses and will be at seven at the conclusion of the regular season. Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams, who has put up impressive numbers as well, has squared off against just three top 50 defenses with one remaining on the schedule.

Common Opponents

While Southern Cal will battle Notre Dame in the last week of the regular season, both CJ Stroud and Hendon Hooker have faced a common opponent with Drake Maye.

Hooker and Tennessee were taken to overtime by Pittsburgh with a backup quarterback before winning 34-27.

In that contest, the 24-year old quarterback threw for 325 yards and two touchdowns. Prior to the extra session, Hooker had only thrown for 298 yards and one score, needing more than regulation to pass the 300 yard mark.

North Carolina defeated Pittsburgh 42-24 in Chapel Hill, as Maye accounted for 388 yards and five touchdowns through the air, while rushing for 61 on the ground.

Meanwhile, Stroud and the Ohio State Buckeyes emerged victorious in week one over Notre Dame, with the Tar Heels falling 45-32 to the Irish.

Stroud amassed 223 yards and two touchdowns in the win and Maye threw for 301 yards and five scores.

Total Offense

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No player means more to their offense, especially among the Heisman contenders, than Drake Maye.

Maye leads North Carolina in both passing and rushing yards, while accounting for 79 percent of total offense by the Tar Heels.

For comparison, Hooker is responsible for just 60 percent of Tennessee's offense and Stroud just 56 percent of the Buckeyes' offense.

Caleb Williams is the closest to Maye, having thrown for 3,010 yards and accounting for close to 66 percent of the Trojans' offense.

All three quarterbacks benefit from a dominant running game from their tailbacks, while Maye has led North Carolina in rushing six times through the first 10 games.

Hooker and Williams have both led their roster in rushing yards in one game this season.


Drake Maye: 3,412 passing yards, 34 touchdowns, 3 INT, 70.1 completion percentage, 584 rushing yards, 5 rushing touchdowns

Total: 3,996 yards, 39 TDs

Hendon Hooker: 2,888 passing yards, 24 touchdowns, 2 INT, 71.1 completion percentage, 405 rushing yards, 5 rushing touchdowns

Total: 3,293 yards, 29 TDs

CJ Stroud: 2,750 passing yards, 34 touchdowns, 4 INT, 67.1 completion percentage, 83 rushing yards

Total: 2,833 yards, 34 TDs

Caleb Williams: 3,010 passing yards, 31 touchdowns, 2 INT, 63.7 completion percentage, 283 rushing yards, 6 rushing touchdowns

Total: 3,293 yards, 37 TDs


While Stroud has thrown for as many touchdown passes and Hooker has a slightly higher completion percentage than Drake Maye, the Tar Heel quarterback bests all three potential finalists in total yards and total touchdowns.

Stroud has a top 10 defense to help remain undefeated at 10-0 and North Carolina has the worst defense of the four schools at 124th in the country.

Drake Maye has not faced significantly worse defenses by playing in the ACC, he is by far the most relied on player in the Heisman conversation, and he has performed better against common opponents.

If the argyle and interlocking N and C on Maye's uniform were swapped out with a Trojan logo or Tennessee Orange, he would be the heavy favorite for the Heisman Trophy.