Hubbard and Etienne Both Have Top-10 Heisman Odds; Could a Running Back Win in 2020?

Clemson RB Travis Etienne runs the ball against Ohio State
Clemson RB Travis Etienne is one of two running backs with top-10 Heisman odds in 2020. Photo from @ESPNStatsInfo (Twitter).
  • There are two running backs who have top-10 Heisman odds
  • Only one non-QB has won the Heisman in the last ten years
  • Read below to see if a running back could win the Heisman Trophy in 2020

Clemson running back Travis Etienne (+1700) and Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard (+2050) are being listed as top-10 favorites in the 2020 Heisman odds despite a growing track record of the award going to a QB.

Is 2020 the year a running back could reclaim the prestigious trophy?

2020 Heisman Odds

Player (Position, School) Odds
Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson) +294
Justin Fields (QB, Ohio State) +315
Spencer Rattler (QB, Oklahoma) +1000
D’Eriq King (QB, Miami) +1133
Jamie Newman, (QB, UGA) +1325
Sam Ehlinger (QB, Texas) +1475
Travis Etienne (RB, Clemson) +1700
Kedon Slovis (QB, USC) +1950
Chuba Hubbard (RB, Oklahoma State) +2050
Mac Jones (QB, Alabama) +2075
Sam Howell (QB, North Carolina) +2125
Myles Brennan (QB, LSU) +2325
Kyle Trask (QB, Florida) +2400
Bo Nix (QB, Auburn) +2525
Ian Book (QB, Notre Dame) +2675

Odds taken May 13, 2020.

Hubbard Snubbed in 2019 

Chuba Hubbard had an incredible 2019 for the Cowboys yet he didn’t receive any love when it came to award season. Despite leading the nation with 2,094 rushing yards, breaking the 100-yard mark in 11 games, and scoring a touchdown in every regular-season game but one, Hubbard didn’t receive an invite to New York and lost out on the Doak Walker Award to Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor.

As great as Hubbard is at running the ball, the Canadian has to overcome Heisman bias against non-QBs and the fact that Oklahoma State as a program just isn’t on the level of the Alabamas, Clemsons and other superpowers of the college football world.

There’s no doubt Hubbard has the talent to turn in an incredible season, but if he can’t get an invite to New York with the numbers he put up in 2019, it’s going to take something truly extraordinary to get the attention of voters in 2020.

Etienne Has To Compete With Lawrence

One of the major reasons Joe Burrow’s 2019 Heisman win was such a landslide victory was because of his monumental impact on the team. Ohio State had three potential Heisman contenders in quarterback Justin Fields, defensive end Chase Young, and running back J.K. Dobbins, making it hard for one player to truly stand out.

Etienne may face a similar challenge in 2020 playing in the same offense as projected 2021 first-overall pick Trevor Lawrence.

What Etienne does have working for him is that Lawrence might not play enough to have Heisman numbers by the end of the season. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has rested Lawrence in the second halves of blowout games in the past. Looking at Clemson’s relatively easy ACC and non-con schedule, Swinney may do the same in 2020.

Lawrence also started slow in 2019, so if something similar happens in 2020, Etienne could really takeover the spotlight. The Clemson RB has put up over 1,600 rushing yards in consecutive seasons and leads the nation in runs of 20-plus yards over the last two years (43). He’s certainly not a bad bet here if you are convinced Clemson is going to be this year’s LSU in terms of dominance.

Najee Harris Offers Best Value

Out of all running backs in the 2020 Heisman odds, though, Alabama’s Najee Harris (+4000 range) offers the best value. The junior has taken steps forward in each of his three college seasons to date. He showed in the second half of 2019, in particular, his potential for a monsterous 2020 campaign.

Harris averaged 111 rushing yards in his final eight games of the season and accumulated 12 touchdowns in that span. Harris is also a receiving threat and racked up significantly more receiving TDs in 2019 than Hubbard and Etienne.

With Tua Tagovailoa off to the NFL, Alabama will be breaking in a new quarterback in 2020 while also dealing with losing two of its best receivers in Henry Ruggs III and Jerry Jeudy. The Tide will likely be relying more on the run this season and Harris should get the lion’s share of touches. You only have to go back to 2015 for the last time an Alabama RB led the nation in rushing yards and won the Heisman (Derrick Henry). With freshman Bryce Young potentially taking snaps and Alabama facing their toughest schedule in years, Harris could be set up perfectly for a Heisman-caliber campaign.

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