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Trace McSorley Heisman Odds Improve as Week 1 Approaches

Alex Kilpatrick

by Alex Kilpatrick in College Football

Updated Apr 23, 2020 · 11:17 AM PDT

Trace McSorley
Trace McSorley has quietly moved into the top ten in Heisman Trophy odds. Is he worth it? Photo by Chris Spon (Wikimedia Commons)
  • As we get closer to Week 1, Trace McSorley’s Heisman Trophy odds are getting shorter and shorter
  • Why is he surging? Why are others falling?
  • Isn’t he just the guy who handed the ball to Saquon Barkley?

We’re just a few days from seeing the top Heisman candidates in the country actually play football, and something interesting’s happening on the odds sheet. Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley has crept into the top ten, and he’s done it quietly.

Trace McSorley 2018 Heisman Trophy Odds

Player Odds
Bryce Love (RB Stanford) +650
Tua Tagovailoa (QB Alabama) +750
Jonathan Taylor (RB Wisconsin) +850
Will Grier (QB West Virginia) +1100
Dwayne Haskins (QB Ohio State +1100
Trace McSorley (QB Penn State) +1200

Why are Trace McSorley’s Heisman Trophy Odds Improving?

I think there’s two reasons:

  1. Trace McSorley was overshadowed somewhat by Saquon Barkley
  2. Odds are getting longer/more realistic on a few players

Let’s break those two down separately.

Trace McSorley is Good, Actually

Trace McSorley shared a backfield with the most exciting running back in college football last year. It’s easy to see why he’d fly under the radar a little bit, especially when his teammate is going high in the NFL Draft.

Here’s the thing though: Trace McSorley was exceptionally good last year. He was quietly one of the best quarterbacks in a class replete with exceptional talent. He led the Big Ten in completions, passing yards, and total yards. He threw 28 touchdowns and ran for 11 more. Everyone talks about how Saquon Barkley saved Penn State in the Iowa game, but check out what happened on the last play:

YouTube video

When Penn State needed Saquon Barkley to do his thing, he delivered. When they needed Trace McSorley to throw a touchdown at the end of the game, he also delivered. McSorley was among the biggest deep-play threats in college football last year, and he did it in the Big Ten!

Certainly, Saquon Barkley took a lot of pressure off Trace McSorley and made life easier for the quarterback. It also work the other way around, though: Trace McSorley’s deep threat created a lot of space for Saquon Barkley. Safeties knew they couldn’t cheat, because McSorley would punish them for it, which opened up a lot of space in short and medium yardages.

McSorley was among the biggest deep-play threats in college football last year, and he did it in the Big Ten!

It will be interesting to see how McSorley does without Barkley. I think Nittany Lions fans might be pleasantly surprised: Miles Sanders was very good as a substitute last year, and the receiving corps is deep with both returning production and young talent. I won’t say that Penn State will be better without Barkley, but they will be extremely good, the kind of team that wins the quarterback a Heisman.

2018 Heisman Trophy Odds are Cooling Off

For Trace McSorley’s odds to get shorter, one of two things has to happen. Either the sportsbook can up the vig, or other players have to get longer. Most sportsbooks are doing a little bit of both.

Here’s a graph of the biggest fallers in Heisman Trophy odds:

2018 Heisman Trophy Biggest Fallers


NC State quarterback Ryan Finley started the year at +2500 and is now listed at +20000. Ohio State running back JK Dobbins went from +600 to +2950. West Virginia wide receiver David Sills went from +5500 to +22500.

That’s a lot of implied probability the sportsbook has to move around! There’s only so many places it can go, and “underrated quarterback for a playoff contender” is a good place to put some of it. Some of it went to Kyler Murray and Trevor Lawrence, certainly, and some more went to Shea Patterson at Michigan.

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