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Handicapping the Heisman

The race for the Heisman looks wide open this year and that presents some great betting opportunities for us.  Doing a little bit of homework and looking at the past winners I found 5 criteria that should be met in order to pick a winner.  Now it is absolutely possible that this year is an outlier and someone wins that does not check one of the boxes below but we have to draw the line somewhere and play the percentages.  9 players fit the criteria for all 5 rules with only 3 players that have a realistic chance to win.

Must win 10 games
Going back to 2000, the average number of wins the team of the Heisman winner has had is 11.3 and only 3 times has the number of wins been under 10.  In 2007, Tim Tebow led Florida to 9 wins.  In 2011, RG3 won 9 games for Baylor and in 2016 Lamar Jackson won 9 for Louisville.  So we are looking for a team that will win at least 10 games.  I will eliminate all season win totals under 9.


No West Coast Love
In 2004 and 2005 Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush won, but since then we have had 1 player west of the Rockies that has won and that was Marcus Mariota in 2014.  (Reggie Bush has since vacated the trophy so officially there was no Heisman winner in 2005.)  The writers just don’t pay enough attention to the Pac12 after dark and unless you are a special player (Mariota was) it is really hard to get your face in front of the voters and leave an impression.  I love Bryce Love but there is nothing overly exciting or flashy about him and if the electric Christian McCaffrey couldn’t win then how is Bryce going win?  In the last 12 years, 1 guy won the award from the west coast so we will eliminate all players in the Pac12.


The winner will be a QB.  Yes, its stupid and not fair at all for determining the best player in college football but the winner will be a QB.  Since 2000, 3 RB’s have won the Heisman and 2 of them were from Alabama with the other being Bush in 2005.  Non-QB’s to win have been 2015 (Derrick Henry), 2009 (Mark Ingram), and 2005 (Reggie Bush).  Eliminate every non-QB.


Must play in Power 5 Conference
It’s only been 28 years since a player won from a Group of 5 team.  Eliminate all players not in a Power 5 conference.


Need a moment in a marquee game
RG3 had his moment on November 19, 2011, when he threw for 479 yards and 4 TD’s, including a TD pass to Terrance Williams with 8 seconds left to beat #5 Oklahoma 45-38.  That’s what you call a moment against a big-time team on national tv.  All the players on this list will have a chance to have these moments but as you look at this list and try to eliminate certain players, ask yourself if you see the player in question having a signature game and a singular moment we can look back on and say, that was when he won the Heisman.

The 9 Contenders

Player Team Odds Season Win Total
Jake Fromm Georgia +1501 10.5
Trace McSorley Penn St +2002 9.5
Dwayne Haskins Ohio St +2202 10.5
Kyler Murray Oklahoma +2503 10
Jarrett Stidham Auburn +2202 9
Kelly Bryant Clemson +2303 11
Shea Patterson Michigan +2002 9
Ian Book Notre Dame 9.5
Tua Tagovailoa Alabama +692 11

After going through our 5 rules we are left with 9 players that have a chance to win the Heisman.  I think we can eliminate Fromm, Patterson, and Stidham because I just don’t see them having the numbers required and having that signature moment due to game script and the fact their games will be mostly low scoring or they play on an offense that will run the ball too much and not allow them to get the stats required.

Tua Tagovailoa has the skills necessary and could produce those Heisman moments and stats but I don’t think he will be given the chance to put up the numbers required in that offense.  When was the last time a Nick Saban QB was in the running for a Heisman?

Kelly Bryant is a wild card and if there is a 4th guy you want to bet on he is the guy.  But I don’t think he is Deshaun Watson and Deshaun lost out twice so I am betting against Bryant.

If Ian Book wins the starting job he is worth a flier but the 3 bets I am going with are Haskins, McSorley, and Murray, in that order.  Seeing McSorley or Murray win would not shock me but Dwayne Haskins is my pick to win the 2018 Heisman Trophy.

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