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Travis Etienne, Who Fell to a +3000 Heisman Longshot in August, Racked Up 200 Yards and 3 TDs in Week 1

Clemson RB Travis Etienne runs the ball against Georgia Tech
Clemson RB Travis Etienne ran for a career-high 205 yards and three touchdowns against Georgia Tech in Week 1. Photo from @ClemsonCFB Twitter)
  • Travis Etienne entered Week 1 with +2300 odds (on average) to win the Heisman Trophy
  • The Clemson RB had an enormous performance against Georgia Tech in the opener
  • Is Etienne a good bet as a Heisman longshot?

When the odds for the 2019 Heisman Trophy first opened last December, Clemson RB Travis Etienne was one of the favorites at +790.

His odds steadily fell over the offseason, though. He was at +2300, on average, ahead of Week 1, and was as long as +3000 at some sportsbooks.

When the odds re-open early next week, expect that number to be much smaller.

Etienne went off in Week 1 against Georgia Tech, running for a career-high 205 yards and three touchdowns on just 12 carries. His quarterback and Heisman co-favorite Trevor Lawrence, meanwhile, was picked off twice by GA Tech and went 13-of-23 for just 168 yards and 1 touchdown.

Heisman Trophy Odds Before Week 1

Player Odds at Bovada*
Tua Tagovailoa (QB, Alabama) +260
Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson) +260
Justin Fields (QB, Ohio State) +1200
Jalen Hurts (QB, Oklahoma) +1200
Adrian Martinez (QB, Nebraska) +1300
D’Andre Swift (RB, Georgia) +1400
Sam Ehlinger (QB, Texas) +1500
Justin Herbert (QB, Oregon) +1600
Jake Fromm (QB, Georgia) +1800
D’Eriq King (QB, Houston) +2500
Shea Patterson (QB, Michigan) +2500
Jonathan Taylor (RB, Wisconsin) +3000
Travis Etienne (RB, Clemson) +3000
Najee Harris (RB, Alabama) +3000
Ian Book (QB, Notre Dame) +4000

*Odds as of Aug. 19, 2019.

Etienne’s Incredible Week 1

Etienne got his Heisman Trophy campaign started early this year, tying a Clemson record with a 90-yard touchdown run against Georgia Tech in Week 1.

Etienne added scoring runs of 14 yards and 48 yards as Clemson got out to a 35-0 lead and went on to a 52-14 victory. Georgia Tech is retooling under first-year coach Geoff Collins, and Etienne took full advantage.

History Isn’t on Etienne’s Side

While predicting the Heisman Trophy winner is very tough, it typically goes to a quarterback. Since the year 2000, Alabama’s Derrick Henry (2015) and Mark Ingram (2009) are the only non-QBs who have won the prestigious trophy.

Etienne is capable of putting together an epic, Heisman-worthy campaign after he rushed for 1,658 yards on 204 attempts in 2018, but it’s too early to be confident. Alabama’s QB, Tua Tagovailoa, has yet to even hit the field and could turn in a massive season. The injury to ‘Bama’s star linebacker Dylan Moses may necessitate an offensive explosion in Tuscaloosa.

And Tua is just one QB capable of a massive season. The list also includes Ohio State’s Justin Fields, Georgia’s Jake Fromm, and Texas’ Sam Ehlinger.

Trevor Lawrence Mediocre in Week 1

While Etienne impressed in Week 1, Clemson’s starting QB and Heisman co-favorite Trevor Lawrence failed to live up to expectations. After throwing just four interceptions in a 15-0, title-winning season last year, Lawrence threw two interceptions in the first half against Georgia Tech on Thursday.

Lawrence did have his moments in the opener. He showed nice hustle to knock GA Tech defensive back Tre Swilling out of bounds before he could score after one of his interceptions. He also had a six-yard rushing score and threw a 62-yard touchdown pass.

You can’t read too much into one game, but I do think a massive season from Etienne could give Tagovailoa an edge over Lawrence for the Heisman. The award is handed out to “the most valuable college player”, so a strong season for Etienne could weaken Lawrence’s case.

Verdict on Etienne’s Heisman Hopes

Lawrence and Tagovailoa are the two best college players in the nation and you shouldn’t read too much into Lawrence’s mediocre Week 1 performance.

There are some very promising QB candidates in the Heisman odds, and a QB is highly likely to win the trophy.

Looking at history, for a running back to beat out a QB for the Heisman, typically the running back needs to be on a national champion-caliber team and explode in a comparatively down year for QBs.

I don’t see that in 2019. Even if Etienne holds up his end, there are too many elite QBs on potentially prolific offenses to make Etienne good value if his odds do shorten next week.

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