- Championship winners are often predictable, but Heisman winners are far less likely to go start to finish as the favorites
- When going with a longshot, be sure to find the longest odds on the market to get more bang for your buck
- The differences can be as drastic as thousands of dollars, even on legitimate candidates
The smart bettor isn’t always the one that researches how to place their bet. The smart bettor is the one who researches where to place their bet.
The Heisman odds are showing why that is the case. The Heisman Trophy’s well-established history of favorites falling short, at times well short, makes it ripe for longshot betters to cash in big when everything comes together for them. The paydays could be even bigger if you find the right odds.
A short list shows some candidates — some more realistic than others — are getting drastically different odds at different books, meaning Heisman bettors need to shop around before laying their money down.
2019 Heisman Trophy Odds
|Player (Team/Pos)||Odds 1||Odds 2||Odds 3||Odds 4|
|Tee Higgins, Clemson WR||n/a||+8000||+10000||+1000|
|Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin RB||+1200||+3000||+2000||+800|
|D’Andre Swift, Georgia RB||+1400||+2500||+3000||+1400|
|Austin Kendall, West Virginia QB||+2500||+7500||+7500||+2800|
|Joe Burrow, LSU QB||n/a||+5000||+2500||+8000|
|D’Eriq King, Houston RB||n/a||+2500||+2200||+8000|
*Odds taken 8/20/19
But, are any of these odds worth the risk? Let’s run through a few.
+8000 is always going to be enticing for a certain profile of gambler, but I don’t see any justification for playing those odds on Clemson wide receiver Tee Higgins or Houston quarterback D’eriq King.
I anticipate Higgins, Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and Oklahoma State’s Tylan Wallace to have quite the battle for this year’s Biletnikoff Award, given to the best wide receiver in the nation. All of them will be must-watch television, but Higgins’ path to the Heisman will be too much to overcome.
First of all, we know the award has a bias for quarterbacks (as you can see in the Heisman Trophy odds, 15 of the last 18 have been QBs) and Clemson has a pretty good one, maybe you’ve heard of him.
Plus Higgins is far from alone: Justyn Ross went for 1,000 yards as a freshman last year and Amari Rodgers had 55 catches, which is not an easy bar to clear, given fewer than 100 did it last year. I find it hard to believe any one wide receiver on that team can blow away the others, and thus the Heisman credibility will go to the quarterback.
— Clemson Football (@ClemsonFB) August 16, 2019
But not all quarterbacks can merit real consideration based simply on their location. That’s where D’Eriq King falls. For a Group of 5 candidate to win over a Heisman voting contingency that has proven to be, is “ignorant” too strong a word, over time, Houston would almost certainly have to go undefeated in the AAC and see King throw 5,500 yards, (hasn’t been done since 2011, coincidentally by Houston’s Case Keenum) and 50+ touchdowns. I don’t see that happening in year one under Dana Holgorsen.
Running to New York
As previously defined, it’s not easy to win the Heisman from the running back position. But, I think there are two that can, and the market gives you places to pounce.
Georgia is going to need to run the ball well to win this year. Yes, new offensive coordinator James Coley has promised to put the offense in the hands of quarterback Jake Fromm, but this also comes in a season where Georgia has several spots to fill in its wide receiving corps. Plus, Elijah Holyfield is now a Carolina Panther, thus no longer around to keep Swift’s carries down to 163.
If he maintains his 6.44 yards per carry over closer to 215-225 carries, he would be close to the 1,600-1,700 yards that Mark Ingram and Reggie Bush amassed to win their Heismans.
And then there’s Jonathan Taylor. Last year, Wisconsin saw its offensive line getting Sports Illustrated feature treatment and some playoff predictions. Now, most of that offensive line is gone and so is the quarterback. The always run-based Badgers now have no choice but to rely even more on Taylor — who has already run for 4,171 yards in two seasons.
That works two-fold: Taylor is almost guaranteed to put up huge running back numbers, so if Wisconsin does win the wide-open Big 10 West and threaten for the conference championship/College Football Playoff berth, it will boost Taylor’s legitimacy for the trophy.
Speaking of team success opening up individual accolades for its stars, that will be the case for Joe Burrow if this turns out to be LSU’s dream year.
Burrow was already shockingly prolific (for LSU standards) last year, being the first Tiger starter to hit 2,800 passing yards since 2013, and now he’s going to play in an offense that should be more conducive to passing excellence.
Senior quarterback @Joe_Burrow10 is a candidate for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award!
— LSU Football (@LSUfootball) August 19, 2019
But, if LSU meets the same fate it has in the last seven seasons — a strong season robbed of an Atlanta trip by a loss to Alabama — can Burrow overcome it and win the Heisman? I find it hard to believe, especially since this scenario would feature another quarterback with Heisman aspirations, Tua Tagovailoa, going to the big stage while Burrow sits at home.
Those backing LSU’s path to the SEC Championship Game, SEC title or College Football Playoff should probably double down on Burrow as a Heisman winner, since those two have a decent chance of going hand-in-hand, but if forced to lay down a longshot, I might go Jonathan Taylor for +3000.
I don’t think he’s going to win it, but of the guys on this list, that path is enticing to me because he’ll have a long list of career accomplishments to back his name for Heisman voters.
Let's have fun and keep it civil.