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  • The Heisman Trophy is college football’s most prestigious individual award.
  • It’s also very hard to predict who will win.
  • We’re tracking the odds on the favorites, from last year’s title game right up to award week. 

Every college football season, we track the favorites for college football’s most prestigious award, the Heisman Trophy, by averaging out the futures odds available at major online sportsbooks.

Predicting who will win is a difficult exercise, especially in the preseason. In 2018, eventual winner Kyler Murray wasn’t even on the board at the outset, and he was a +2300 longshot when he first popped up in late July. Fellow finalist Dwayne Haskins started out at +3500.

Before we get to this year’s favorites, a little context.

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 QBs and RBs 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?

Trevor Lawrence and Tua Tagovailoa are the early favorites. Not coincidentally, they are the two QBs who met in last year’s CFP title game.

Like all sportsbooks, Bovada has Lawrence and Tagovailoa well ahead of the pack, with Georgia’s Jake Fromm a distant third.

Player Odds at Bovada (Jan. 8)
Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson) +300
Tua Tagovailoa (QB, Alabama) +350
Jake Fromm (QB, Georgia) +850
Jonathan Taylor (RB, Wisconsin) +900
Travis Etienne (RB, Clemson) +950
D’Andre Swift (RB, Georgia) +950
Sam Ehlinger (QB, Texas) +1000
Tate Martell (QB, Ohio State) +1400
Austin Kendall (QB, Oklahoma) +1400
Jerry Jeudy (WR, Alabama) +1400

Who Usually Wins the Heisman Trophy?

Lately, quarterbacks.

Here’s the list of Heisman Trophy winners by position, going back to the turn of the millenium. Only three non-QBs are on the list (and they’re all RBs). If you want to win this award, you better have the ball in your hands a lot.

Year Player Position
2018 Kyler Murray Quarterback
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, it was 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 16
Running back 3
All others 0

Heisman Trophy Favorites by Position

As you can see, the “Quarterbacks” tab is far more populated than the rest. No defensive players are even on the board at this stage.

Heisman Trophy Favorites by Conference

The SEC and Big Ten dominate the top candidates for 2019, yet again. This is not new.

But while the SEC has actually followed through with their Heisman Trophy candidates lately, the Big Ten has only produced two winners since 2000 and none since 2006 (Troy Smith, Ohio State).

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

Archived Heisman Trophy Odds: 2018