Early Odds and Favorites to Win the 2018 Heisman Trophy

by Rick Rockwell
on June 11, 2018
9

Minute Read

With than 3 months before the NCAAF college football season begins, the sport’s most prestigious award has become a hot topic of discussion this weekend as Vegas just released their odds for the 2018 Heisman Trophy race. The list of candidates spans the Nation and covers multiple positions. Let’s take a deeper look at these odds and see if we can find some early betting value:

2018 Heisman Trophy Odds

On Friday, June 8th, the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook released its odds on who will win the 2018 Heisman Trophy and it’s created quite the buzz. The following is a list of the top 35 college football Heisman hopefuls, according to Westgate:

  • Bryce Love (Stanford RB) 5/1
  • Jonathan Taylor (Wisconsin RB) 7/1
  • Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama QB) 10/1
  • Jake Fromm (Georgia QB) 14/1
  • Justin Herbert (Oregon QB) 14/1
  • Khalil Tate (Arizona QB) 14/1
  • D’Andre Swift (Georgia RB) 20/1
  • Jake Browning (Washington QB) 20/1
  • Jarrett Stidham (Auburn QB) 20/1
  • JK Dobbins (Ohio State RB) 20/1
  • Kelly Bryant (Clemson QB) 20/1
  • Kyler Murray (Oklahoma QB) 20/1
  • Shea Patterson (Michigan QB) 20/1
  • Trace McSorley (Penn State QB) 20/1
  • Will Grier (West Virginia QB) 20/1
  • Cam Akers (Florida State RB) 25/1
  • Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State QB) 25/1
  • Drew Lock (Missouri QB) 30/1
  • Rodney Anderson (Oklahoma RB) 30/1
  • Damien Harris (Alabama RB) 40/1
  • Nick Fitzgerald (Mississippi State QB) 40/1
  • Travis Etienne (Clemson RB) 40/1
  • Brandon Wimbush (Notre Dame QB) 50/1
  • McKenzie Milton (UCF QB) 50/1
  • Myles Gaskin (Washington RB) 50/1
  • Ed Oliver (Houston DT) 80/1
  • D. Spielman (Nebraska WR) 80/1
  • T. Daniels (USC QB) 80/1
  • Justice Hill (OK State RB) 80/1
  • Nick Bosa (Ohio State DE) 80/1
  • David Sills (West Virginia WR) 100/1
  • Dexter Lawrence (Clemson DT) 100/1
  • Jake Bentley (South Carolina QB) 100/1
  • Ryan Finley (NC State QB) 100/1
  • Sam Ehlinger (Texas QB) 100/1

Positional Breakdown of Candidates

Looking over this list, you will quickly see that 30 of the 35 candidates are either quarterback or running back. This should come as no surprise, considering that only 7 of the previous 83 winners didn’t play QB or RB.

Quarterbacks

There are 20 quarterbacks on this list and odds are that a QB will win the trophy in 2018, considering that they have won 7 of the last 8 Heisman’s.

Running backs

Since 2000, only 3 running backs have won the Heisman. However, they do have the top two favorites this year and eight other candidates for a total of 10 Heisman hopefuls.

Wide Receivers

Only two receivers made it in the top 35 Heisman prospects. Unfortunately the odds aren’t in favor of a receiver winning. Not since Desmond Howard in 1991, has a receiver won the trophy. And receivers have only won this trophy on 3 separate occasions.

Defense

It’s nice to see 3 defensive candidates on this list. But, they’re an even bigger longshot to win the Heisman. It’s been 20 years since a defensive player won the trophy and that was Charles Woodson in 1997. The last one before Woodson was Ernie Davis who played LB, HB and FB.

2018 Heisman Trophy Favorites

According to Westgate, and several other sportsbooks, these are the top 5 odds on favorites to win the Heisman Trophy:

Bryce Love (Stanford RB) 5/1

The Stanford Cardinal running back finished runner up to last year’s winner Baker Mayfield. Love had a monster season with 2,218 rushing yards and 19 rushing touchdowns. He was the heart and soul of Stanford’s offense and will be the main back once again. In my opinion, only Taylor will compete with Love as the best back in the nation. Additionally, I believe this is Love’s trophy to lose. Despite the near Heisman victories in the recent past (Gerhart and McCaffery), Stanford only has one winner in the trophy’s history – quarterback Jim Plunkett in 1970.

Jonathan Taylor (Wisconsin RB) 7/1

The Wisconsin running back had a stellar freshman year with 1,847 yards and 13 touchdowns. He led a bruising Badgers offense all the way to the Big 10 Championship game and an Orange Bowl victory where he had 130 rushing yards. Wisconsin has had two Heisman Trophy winners in the past and both were in the backfield: running back Ron Dayne in 1999 and fullback Alan Ameche in 1954. Can Taylor become the third Wisconsin Heisman winner?

Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama QB) 10/1

Tua Tagovailoa is expected to win the quarterback battle against last year’s starter Jalen Hurts. This is largely due to Tagovailoa replacing Hurts in the 2017-18 National Championship game and leading the Crimson Tide to a come from behind victory over Georgia. Although Hurts was not listed on Westgate’s odds, it’s not a foregone conclusion that Tua will be the main QB all season. In fact, head coach Nick Saban is making these quarterbacks fight for the starting job and to win over the team. Alabama has only had two Heisman trophy winners in the school’s illustrious history and they were both running backs: 2015 Derick Henry and 2009 Mark Ingram. I don’t see either Alabama QB winning the trophy this year and I feel that Tua shouldn’t even be this high on the list.

Jake Fromm (Georgia QB) 14/1

Fromm is the highest ranked quarterback on this list and rightfully so. He was the starting QB for last year’s national championship runner-up and had a solid 2017 season with 2,173 passing yards, 21 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. He’s been working hard this offseason to improve his play and become an even better collegiate QB. With Georgia having a two-headed monster at RB last year, they didn’t need Fromm to win as many games for them. This year, with both of last year’s backs gone, I see Fromm putting up bigger numbers. Georgia has two Heisman Trophy winners in their school’s history: the great Herschel Walker in 1982 and Frank Sinkwich in 1942.
If anyone can upstage Fromm at the QB position, it will be Herbert. Despite missing starts last year with a broken collarbone, Herbert still finished the season with 1,983 passing yards, 15 touchdowns and just 5 interceptions. With Herbert as the starter, the Ducks went 6-2. He’s expected to restore this offense to its high octane production that we’re accustomed to. If he can, then Herbert might just join former QB Marcus Mariota as the only Heisman Trophy winners in the school’s history.

2018 Heisman Trophy Value Bets

With so many possibilities to choose from, I’ve narrowed it down to the following three candidates that have the best betting value:

JK Dobbins (Ohio State RB) 20/1

In his first year as the main back, Dobbins put up 1,364 rushing yards and 8 total touchdowns. He was a sparkplug for the Ohio State offense last year and he will be the workhorse for them this year. The Buckeyes are odds on favorite to win the Big 10 Conference and be one of the 4 teams to make the CFP. If they’re to accomplish those goals, they will need a big year from Dobbins. And, I expect JK to deliver. He provides great value at 20/1 odds and will compete with Taylor as the best back in the Big 10.

Kelly Bryant (Clemson QB) 20/1

As a first-time starter in 2017, quarterback Kelly Bryant led Clemson to a 12-2 record and an appearance in the CFP, where they lost 24-6 to eventual champion Alabama. The Tigers’ only loss last regular season was to Syracuse, after Bryant was knocked out of the game with a concussion. Bryant is more of a dual-threat QB than what Clemson was accustomed to with Deshaun Watson. However, after one year under his belt, I expect Bryant to take a step forward this year and lead Clemson back to the CFP. If the Tigers can somehow win the national title again, it will be due to Bryant’s stellar play.

Trace McSorley (Penn State QB) 20/1

Without Saquon Barkley, this Penn State offense will fall squarely on quarterback Trace McSorley. And, that’s probably just the way he wants it. McSorley has more moxie than any other QB on this list or in college football. Last season, he had a tremendous year with 3,228 passng yards, 26 touchdown throws, 11 rushing touchdowns and over 400 rushing yards. McSorley is as tough as they come and he will lead this PSU team to another Bowl Game where he’s 1-1 in his career. If the Nittany Lions end up competing with Ohio State for the Big 10 East Division, and pulling off the upset over the Buckeyes, then cue the Heisman Trophy parade for McSorely because he would be the reason why.

2018 Heisman Trophy Longshots

There are many candidates on this list who could be considered a longshot. But, only one of them has caught my attention and that’s Alabama running back Damien Harris. The senior returned this year after a solid junior campaign where he finished with roughly 1,000 yards on the ground. In his 3 seasons with the Crimson Tide, Harris has over 2,100 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns.

As mentioned above, I believe that Alabama is going to have a tough decision on their hands as to who will play QB. With that in mind, they will have to rely on a running game and I believe that benefits Harris. Not only does he have the running skills to break the 1,000 yard mark, but he also has the poise to lead the offense during crunch time.

At 40/1 odds, I believe that Harris still has some value and can be a worthy look as a longshot or darkhorse to win the Heisman Trophy in 2018.

2018 Heisman Trophy Betting Summary

Obviously, anything can happen between now and when the Heisman Trophy winner is announced later this year. But, you have to feel good about some of the candidates on this list, while other might be slightly overrated. Additionally, sometimes the favorites don’t always produce like they should, while others see an opening and seize the opportunity of winning the Heisman.

For example, heading into the 2017 college football season, Sam Darnold was the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy as he opened at 5/1 odds. Unfortunately, he didn’t have as good of a year as he did in 2016 and Darnold finished at 100/1 odds when it was time to announce the winner.

2017 Heisman Winner Baker Mayfield opened at 7/1 and ended up the favorite by time the season ended with 1/20 odds. To hammer home my point, Bryce Love opened at 100-1 odds before the season started and ended up finishing at 8-1 odds and the only even in striking range of Mayfield.

2018 Heisman Trophy Winner and Runner-Up

For my winner, I’m taking Bryce Love. I feel that he has the best chance to be the main guy for his team and he’s in line for another massive season in a run-heavy offense. Although not mentioned above, I believe that Arizona’s quarterback Khalil Tate will finish as the runner up. He’s 6th on the list of odds to win the trophy at 14/1. Last year he finished with a 25/1 odds of winning, but didn’t even get into the Top 10 in votes. I like his chances this year as he will have a full season under his belt, more talent around him, and a chance to work on his deficiencies. He was also the best rushing quarterback in the nation last year, with a chance to build on those numbers this year. Watch out for Tate. As for now, the smart pick is Love.

My 2018 Heisman Trophy Bets

A quick look at my bets on who will win and more:

2018 Heisman Trophy Winner: Stanford running back Bryce Love at 5/1 odds

2018 Heisman Trophy Runner-up: Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate at 14/1 odds to win

Best betting value:

  • JK Dobbins (Ohio State RB) 20/1
  • Kelly Bryant (Clemson QB) 20/1
  • Trace McSorley (Penn State QB) 20/1

2018 Heisman Trophy Longshot: Alabama running back Damien Harris at 40/1 odds

Heisman Trophy Fun Facts

Check out the following fun facts about the Heisman Trophy:

  • The trophy was originally awarded only to players east of the Mississippi River.
  • Archie Griffin is the only player to win this ward twice (1974 and 1975).
  • Nile Kinnick (1939) is the only winner to have a stadium named after him.
  • The only winner to die during military service was also Nile Kinnick.
  • Paul Hornung (1956) was the only player to win the trophy on a losing team.
  • Ernie Davis (1962) was the first African American football player to win the award.
  • Pete Dawkins won the trophy in 1958, but decided to forgo a professional career for the Army, where he worked his way up to Brigadier general.
  • Charles Woodson (1997) is the only player to win the award due to his primary role as a defensive back.
  • In 2007, Tim Tebow became the first non-junior or senior to win the trophy.
  • Lamar Jackson (2016) was the youngest player to ever win the trophy.
  • Johnny Manziel (2012) became the first redshirt freshman to win the award.
  • Baker Mayfield (2017) is the only walk-on player to ever win the trophy. He’s also the first senior to win the award since 2006 (Troy Smith).
  • Terry Baker won the trophy in 1962 and also played in the NCAA Final Four that year.
  • Notre Dame and Ohio State have the most trophies at 7 apiece.

The Complete List of Heisman Trophy Winners

The following is a list of all the football players to have won the Heisman Trophy including the year, school, position and class:

Year Player School Position Class
1935 Jay Berwanger Chicago HB Senior
1936 Larry Kelley Yale TE/DE Senior
1937 Clint Frank Yale HB Senior
1938 Davey O’Brien TCU QB Senior
1939 Nile Kinnick Iowa HB/QB Senior
1940 Tom Harmon Michigan HB Senior
1941 Bruce Smith Minnesota HB Senior
1942 Frank Sinkwich Georgia HB Senior
1944 Les Horvath Ohio State QB/HB Senior
1945 Doc Blanchard Army FB Junior
1946 Glenn Davis Army HB Senior
1947 Johnny Lujack Notre Dame QB Senior
1948 Doak Walker SMU HB Junior
1949 Leon Hart Notre Dame TE/DE Senior
1950 Vic Janowicz Ohio State HB/P Junior
1951 Dick Kazmaier Princeton HB Senior
1952 Billy Vessels Oklahoma HB Senior
1953 Johnny Lattner Notre Dame HB Senior
1954 Alan Ameche Wisconsin FB Senior
1955 Howard Cassady Ohio State HB Senior
1956 Paul Hornung Notre Dame QB Senior
1957 John David Crow Texas A&M HB Senior
1958 Pete Dawkins Army HB Senior
1959 Billy Cannon LSU HB Senior
1960 Joe Bellino Navy HB Senior
1961 Ernie Davis Syracuse HB/LB/FB Senior
1962 Terry Baker Oregon State QB Senior
1963 Roger Staubach Navy QB Junior
1964 John Huarte Notre Dame QB Senior
1965 Mike Garrett USC HB Senior
1966 Steve Spurrier Florida QB Senior
1967 Gary Beban UCLA QB Senior
1968 O.J. Simpson USC HB Senior
1969 Steve Owens Oklahoma FB Senior
1970 Jim Plunkett Stanford QB Senior
1971 Pat Sullivan Auburn QB Senior
1972 Johnny Rodgers Nebraska WR/RB Senior
1973 John Cappaletti Penn State RB Senior
1974 Archie Griffin Ohio State RB Junior
1975 Archie Griffin Ohio State RB Senior
1976 Tony Dorsett Pitt RB Senior
1977 Earl Campbell Texas RB Senior
1978 Billy Sims Oklahoma RB Junior
1979 Charles White USC RB Senior
1980 George Rogers South Carolina RB Senior
1981 Marcus Allen USC RB Senior
1982 Herschel Walker Georgia RB Junior
1983 Mike Rozier Nebraska RB Senior
1984 Doug Flutie Boston College QB Senior
1985 Bo Jackson Auburn RB Senior
1986 Vinny Testaverde Miami QB Senior
1987 Tim Brown Notre Dame WR Senior
1988 Barry Sanders Oklahoma State RB Junior
1989 Andre Ware Houston QB Junior
1990 Ty Detmer BYU QB Junior
1991 Desmond Howard Michigan WR/PR Junior
1992 Gino Torretta Miami QB Senior
1993 Charlie Ward Florida State QB Senior
1994 Rashaan Salaam Colorado RB Junior
1995 Eddie George Ohio State RB Senior
1996 Danny Wuerffel Florida QB Senior
1997 Charles Woodson Michigan CB/PR Junior
1998 Ricky Williams Texas RB Senior
1999 Ron Dayne Wisconsin RB Senior
2000 Chris Weinke Florida State QB Senior
2001 Eric Crouch Nebraska QB Senior
2002 Carson Palmer USC QB Senior
2003 Jason White Oklahoma QB Junior
2004 Matt Leinart USC QB Junior
2005 Reggie Bush USC RB Junior
2006 Troy Smith Ohio State QB Senior
2007 Tim Tebow Florida QB Sophomore
2008 Sam Bradford Oklahoma QB Sophomore
2009 Mark Ingram, Jr. Alabama RB Sophomore
2010 Cam Newton Auburn QB Junior
2011 Robert Griffin III Baylor QB Junior
2012 Johnny Manziel Texas A&M QB Freshman
2013 Jameis Winston Florida State QB Freshman
2014 Marcus Mariota Oregon QB Junior
2015 Derrick Henry Alabama RB Junior
2016 Lamar Jackson Louisville QB Junior
2017 Baker Mayfield Oklahoma QB Senior
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