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Heisman Trophy Search Volume Update: Is Will Grier the Value Pick?

Alex Kilpatrick

by Alex Kilpatrick in College Football

Updated Nov 10, 2022 · 10:13 AM PST

Kyler Murray
Can Kyler Murray be the first man to win both the Heisman Trophy and Gatorade Player of the Year? Photo by ABC/Image Group LA (flickr) [CC License].
  • Heisman Trophy odds have Tua Tagovailoa as a strong favorite
  • Does Tua have the buzz to lock up the Heisman this early?
  • Can Kyler Murray still win?

We’re rebooting the Heisman Trophy Search Volume machine, to take a look at the mid-season Heisman Trophy Odds.

For those unfamiliar, our idea is that the Heisman Trophy is a big popularity contest. People usually say so disparagingly after their running back doesn’t win, but we’re viewing it as an opportunity. We can measure popularity, after all.

2018 Heisman Trophy Odds

Player Odds
Tua Tagovailoa (QB Alabama) -105
Kyler Murray (QB Oklahoma) +350
Dwayne Haskins (QB Ohio State) +375
Will Grier (QB West Virginia) +550
McKenzie Milton (QB UCF) +2000

If you want to see how these odds have evolved, check out the Heisman Trophy Odds Tracker.

Tua’s the odds-on favorite, but does that make sense? Do these other players present value?

2018 Heisman Search Volume

As you can see, Tua’s search volume over the course of the season isn’t particularly convincing. Kyler Murray’s been a bigger name in recent weeks, and is trending upwards.

However, you have to consider this graph, which measures the last twelve months:

Tua’s search volume exploded after the 2018 College Football Playoff. That’s wholly understandable, as his dramatic entrance into the national title game was the story of the game, but should it affect his Heisman campaign?

The simple answer is of course it shouldn’t. You don’t get to roll over performances from the previous postseason. That’s not how season-long awards are supposed to work.

The more complicated answer is that’s a naive way of thinking about the Heisman Trophy. The Heisman voter is not now and never will be particularly disciplined about what shapes their ballot, and letting a little “Tua won a dang national title game” creep in wouldn’t be surprising. It’s definitely fair to let Tua’s achievement in the previous season color your opinion, it certainly will factor into the Heisman voter’s.

Google Trends also give us this fun geographic visualisation:

You can see Murray’s influence in Oklahoma and Texas, Will Grier’s dominance of the eastern seaboard, and Tua’s popularity everywhere else. The fact that Heisman voters are concentrated in Murray and Grier’s territories suggests that they might be worth a look.

2018 Heisman Trophy Betting Advice

My feeling is that Tua is too strong a favorite too early in the season for his odds to provide any kind of value. The winner of the September Heisman doesn’t always go on to win the Actual Heisman, and college football is a violent sport. Tua Tagovailoa is a newly-minted 20 year-old celebrity some 4’000 miles away from home. Things happen!

Tua is too strong a favorite too early in the season for his odds to provide any kind of value.

Kyler Murray might be a value pick. He’s already overtaken Tua in search volume in the last few weeks, and the narrative of back-to-back Oklahoma Heisman winners might be too much for the committee to pass up.

I kind of love Will Grier at +550. He’s done really well in the early season, and he’s the most popular of the bunch in the places where Heisman voters are said to concentrate.

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