A few weeks ago, I stumbled onto a new potential Heisman Trophy predictor. It turns out there is a strong correlation between the highest search volume among college football players and who will win the Heisman. In order to put that information to good use, we need to track the “buzz” currently surrounding the best players in the nation. If past trends hold true, this will provide a better view of the true Heisman Trophy favorites.
Let’s checking back in with the kids prior to Week 3 to see how everyone’s doing.
First, though, let’s take a look at who Vegas thinks is leading the charge. The odds, which were released on Monday, had the players arranged as follows:
- Lamar Jackson, Louisville: +175
- Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma: +400
- Sam Darnold, USC: +600
- Saquon Barkley, Penn State: +900
- Josh Rosen, UCLA: +1000
- Mason Rudolph, OK State: +1000
That’s a big shift, with preseason favorite Sam Darnold slipping behind both Mayfield and Jackson, and JT Barrett (now listed at +2500) disappearing out of the top ranks entirely.
For the most part, it makes sense. Josh Rosen put together a late comeback against Texas A&M which was reminiscent of Tom Brady at the Super Bowl; Baker Mayfield planted a flag of vengeance in Ohio State’s field; and Lamar Jackson continued to Lamar Jackson. It’s a little surprising to see Rudolph so high up there; those wins over Tulsa and South Alabama were both impressive but not exactly the biggest moments of the week, to say the least.
THE SEARCH VOLUME
The best thing I can do is probably just show you the graph.
The line is dotted because Baker Mayfield broke Google the same way he broke Ohio State’s defense. That little purple pyramid is the historic, improbable comeback that Josh Rosen staged. Lamar Jackson scoring six or seven or a hundred or however many touchdowns gets a little blip.
Obviously, things will cool down. Oklahoma doesn’t have any big games until the Red River Shootout in two weeks and, after that, only has rivalry week and maybe the TCU game to hang its hat on. Furthermore, a lot of Mayfield’s search might be coming from the so-called controversy surrounding him planting an OU flag at midfield after the win, which was very cool revenge for the Buckeyes singing their fight song at OU’s midfield last year.
I love Lamar Jackson. I think that’s abundantly clear in everything I write about him. But +175 is crazy. Baker Mayfield is obviously a favorite, but again +400 is a little much. The value pick here is Josh Rosen at +1000. He hasn’t lit the world on fire in the same way as Mayfield, but he has kept steady with Jackson (a feat in itself) and posted better numbers than we’ve seen from a west coast player.
We’re scheduled to check back in next week, after the USC/Texas game hopefully gets Sam Darnold back on the map. Things could get very silly if Clemson/Louisville goes Lamar Jackson’s way; otherwise the favorites should have pretty quiet weeks.