The award given to the outstanding player in college football, determined by a vote of more than 900 sports journalists and past winners, will be presented Saturday at the Lincoln Center in New York.
Bennett has quarterbacked defending national champion Georgia to a second straight spot in the College Football Playoff and is 24-1 as the Bulldogs’ starter since last season.
The sixth-year player from Blackshear, Georgia, was most valuable player of the Southeastern Conference championship game after throwing for 274 yards and four touchdowns in a 50-30 win over LSU that ran the Bulldogs’ record to 13-0.
Of Georgia’s three all-time wins over a No. 1-ranked team, Bennett was quarterback for two of them. He was at the controls for the Bulldogs’ win over Alabama in the national championship game last January, and he passed for two TDs and ran for another in a 27-13 win over Tennessee last month.
Duggan willed TCU to its first CFP appearance with an inspiring performance in the Big 12 championship game against Kansas State.
Duggan, who had heart surgery two years ago, was at the center of one of the signature sequences of the season. It happened late in the fourth quarter when he broke loose for 40 yards and then, visibly out of breath, ran for an 8-yard TD and completed his 2-point pass to bring the Frogs back from an 11-point, fourth-quarter deficit. Duggan came up just short of the goal line on a run in overtime, and the Frogs lost for the first time this season, 31-28.
The fourth-year player from Council Bluffs, Iowa, was Gary Patterson‘s starter for two seasons before first-year coach Sonny Dykes picked Chandler Morris over Duggan in the preseason. Duggan regained the job for the second game because of an injury to Morris and ended up leading the Big 12 in every major passing category.
Stroud, in his third season out of Inland Empire, California, is a Heisman finalist for the second year in a row. He was fourth in voting last year. He came into this season regarded as the front-runner and remained the favorite as Ohio State piled up impressive numbers through the first eight games.
But he struggled against Northwestern, the worst team in the Big Ten, and he couldn’t rally the Buckeyes in the second half of their most recent game, a 45-23 home loss to Michigan.
Still, Stroud has the nation’s highest passer rating and is tied for the lead with 37 touchdown passes.
Williams transferred to USC from Oklahoma in February, two months after Lincoln Riley was hired away from the Sooners.
The second-year player from Washington is responsible for a nation-leading 21.7 points per game. He turned in a gutty performance in the Pac-12 championship game Friday, injuring his left hamstring on a 59-yard run in the first quarter but staying in the game and finishing with 363 yards passing and three touchdowns despite a noticeable limp in the 47-24 loss to Utah.
Williams has thrown for 37 touchdowns against just four interceptions and has amassed a school-record 4,447 total yards. Including his 10 rushing touchdowns, he has accounted for a school-record 47.
Williams and Stroud also are finalists for the Maxwell Award as the top performer in the college game, and they are joined by Duggan as finalists for the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award.