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  • The Heisman Trophy is college football’s most prestigious individual award
  • It’s also very finicky to predict
  • We’re tracking the odds on the favorites as the season unfolds

Last year we provided periodic updates into the Heisman Trophy race (and even suggested betting on Baker Mayfield when he was at +1200), so we’re back for the 2018 season.

What is the Heisman Trophy?

The Heisman Trophy is the most prestigious individual award in college football. Voted on by past winners and select members of the media, the trophy is intended to honor the most “outstanding” player in the country.

In reality it’s more than a little bit biased, and running backs on the East Coast or South account for the bulk of winners. It’s also something of a popularity contest, with “outstanding” very closely aligning with who gets the most clicks.

Who are the Favorites to Win the Heisman Trophy?

After starting out with a surprising number of running backs, almost all of the top contenders are quarterbacks. Here’s the odds on Bovada:

Player Bovada Odds
Tua Tagovailoa (QB Alabama) -150
Dwayne Haskins (QB Ohio State) +300
Kyler Murray (QB Oklahoma) +300
Will Grier (QB West Virginia) +1200
McKenzie Milton (QB UCF) +2000

Who Usually Wins the Heisman Trophy?

Quarterbacks. Here’s the list of Heisman Trophy winners by position, going back to the turn of the millenium.

Year Player Position
2017 Baker Mayfield Quarterback
2016 Lamar Jackson Quarterback
2015 Derrick Henry Running back
2014 Marcus Mariota Quarterback
2013 Jameis Winston Quarterback
2012 Johnny Manziel Quarterback
2011 Robert Griffin III Quarterback
2010 Cam Newton Quarterback
2009 Mark Ingram Jr Running back
2008 Sam Bradford Quarterback
2007 Tim Tebow Quarterback
2006 Troy Smith Quarterback
2005 Reggie Bush Running back
2004 Matt Leinart Quarterback
2003 Jason White Quarterback
2002 Carson Palmer Quarterback
2001 Eric Crouch Quarterback
2000 Chris Weinke Quarterback

For those of you playing along at home, that’s 15 QBs and 3 running backs. The last Heisman to go to a different position was Charles Woodson’s 1997 win. Before that you have Desmond Howard in 1991, then Johnny Rodgers (who was kind of a running back) in 1972, and then Notre Dame end Leon Hart in 1949.

Position Number of Heisman Trophies since 2000
Quarterback 15
Running back 3
All others 0

It’s going to be a quarterback, and if it’s not it will be a running back.

Which Quarterbacks are Most Likely to Win the Heisman Trophy?

As you can see, there are a lot of them. Quarterbacks are an easy pick to win the Heisman. They’ve won a lot of them and they generally get all the glory for their team’s success.

Which Running Backs are Most Likely to Win the Heisman Trophy?

Running backs have taken a bit of a step back in recent Heisman voting, as the game becomes more focused on passing, but there is an incredible crop of rushers this year to keep your eye on. Bryce Love was on his way to one of the most productive seasons ever before an injury slowed him down last year, but he also plays in the PAC-12.

Which Conference are Heisman Trophy Favorites From?

As you can see, the SEC and Big Ten dominate the top candidates for 2018. This is not new. But while the SEC has actually followed through with their Heisman Trophy candidates lately, the Big Ten has only produced a couple winners since 2000.

Conference Heisman Trophies since 2000
SEC 5
PAC-12 4
Big 12 4
ACC 3
Big Ten 2