A Way Too Early 2020 Heisman Trophy Odds Update
By: Travis Pulver
It might be a little tough to be a Heisman Trophy candidate, let alone the actual winner of the award in the coming season. While most fans and voters will separate the current season from last year, there will be a vocal percentage that is bound to compare the candidates (and winner) to Joe Burrow.
They’ll say things like, ”At this time last year Joe already had 45 touchdowns; this guy is certainly isn’t measuring up,” or “No one played as well as Joe did last season, so the voters were forced to settle for Player X as the Heisman winner.”
Yeah—some people are foolish.
Yes, stats can be a great indicator of whether a player is a good candidate or not. But value and quality are not always apparent in stats. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is a perfect example. He generated some insane stats last season but didn’t even sniff the MVP conversation (and didn’t deserve to).
Stats can be a starting point, though, along with their reputation/track record. That much is apparent in the early preseason odds for the Heisman Trophy posted at DraftKings.
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2020 Heisman Trophy Odds: Beware The Preseason Frontrunners
It is not hard to understand why Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields is the early favorite to win. He was insanely productive last season, nearly made the title game. Fields will likely be just as insanely productive this coming season—but he is probably not going to win.
Preseason favorites rarely do.
The last time a preseason favorite won the Heisman was back in 2014 (Marcus Mariota). But for much of the last decade, the preseason favorite didn’t even get invited to the ceremony (i.e., Sam Darnold (2017), Trevone Boykin (2015), Braxton Miller (2013), Matt Barkley (2012), Mark Ingram (2010), Tim Tebow (2009)).
Most of the time, guys with preseasons odds of 2000+ and shorter fail to make the top ten, and even fewer make the top five. That would mean Trevor Lawrence (+500), Jamie Newman (+600), D’Eriq King (+900), Spencer Rattler (+1200), Myles Brennan (+1400), Bo Nix (+1600), and Mac Jones (+2000) could already be out of the running.
Heck—Rattler, Newman, Brennan, King, and Jones may not win their respective starting jobs. With Spring games canceled, we are not going to have a good idea about some starters until the season starts.
But we do know Trevor Lawrence is going to be the man for Clemson once again barring injury. After a lackluster year statistically last season, he is going to be primed and ready to dazzle this season.
The ‘dazzle’ is going to be a crucial part for any candidate. Voters want to be wowed; they want to see something impressive. After having a stellar finish to his freshman season, expectations were sky-high for Lawrence last season. So high, there was no way he was going to meet them, let alone surpass them and prove himself worthy.
However, this season, he can. After a not so dazzling season last year, a return to his freshman form could be enough to make him the Heisman winner.
The biggest roadblock for Lawrence this season may have nothing to do with him but his offense. Not because there is anything wrong with it, but because his running back, Travis Etienne, is also a candidate (+2500). But with Lawrence being the face of the offense, he is going to have a hard time shining enough to win the Heisman.
Who are Some of the Other Guys You Might See on the 2020 Heisman Trophy Odds Boards
A list of some of the other popular candidates would include guys like Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez (+2500), USC’s Kedon Slovis (+2500), Longhorns QB Sam Ehlinger (+2500), Oklahoma State running back Chubba Hubbard (+2500), and Notre Dame’s Ian Book (+4000).
All are good players on good teams, but Heisman voters are looking for greatness. Before last season began, Joe Burrow’s Heisman odds were +20000. Before lighting up defenses last season, he barely qualified as a ‘good’ quarterback.
Once he started doing just that, the odds shortened, and he became the legend he is today. Why? Because we didn’t expect greatness, but that is what we got.
Joe Burrow ‘wowed’ us. So—who might ‘wow’ us this season?
It could be one of the favorites, but those guys are fairly well-known commodities. It is still possible for them to ‘wow’ us, but it is going to take one incredible season since we already have a good idea of what they can do.
Guys like Joe Burrow are in a better position to ‘wow’ us. But who could that be this coming season? Penn State’s Sean Clifford, maybe (+8000) or Tua’s little brother, Taulia Tagovailoa (+10000)? If Charlie Brewer can get rolling again at Baylor, perhaps it is him (+12500).
For those that really feel like going out on a limb, consider taking a defensive player like Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons (+10000), LSU defensive back Derek Stingley Jr. (+10000), or Miami defensive lineman Gregory Rousseau (no odds).
Maybe you want to really go crazy and take Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell (+10000).
So, who do you bet on?
That’s a great question. Conventional wisdom would say to go with a known commodity. However, history says going with a long shot is the way to go. Of course, figuring out which one is the hard part.
But if it was easy, everyone would be betting, and the odds would shrink—and no one wants that.