It was beginning to look like Trevor Lawrence was going to make Heisman Trophy history this season. He was going to be the rare pre-season favorite that was going to win the trophy at the end of the year.
It did not matter how well anyone else played. Unless someone stopped Lawrence and made him look mortal, voters would not have a reason to vote for anyone else no matter how well they played.
Well—no one has stopped him, but something did—the coronavirus. Lawrence had to sit out of last weekend’s game against Boston College and will miss this weekend’s game against Notre Dame, a game that could have locked the award down for him.
This does not mean Lawrence cannot win the Heisman still because he can. However, after missing last week, he is no longer the favorite.
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Lawrence has still had a great season (he has completed 70.7% of his passes for 1,833 yards with 17 touchdowns and two interceptions), which is why he still has excellent odds to win this year (+200 via FanDuel).
Missing the Boston College game is not a big deal in the aggregate. But missing a game against a top-five team will hurt. With the level of competition in the ACC, a big game over the No. 4 team in the country could have swayed voters on the fence into his corner.
Instead, the door will be wide open for the new co-favorites, Justin Fields and Mac Jones (+150). Fields followed up a solid performance in last week’s season opener with another great game against Penn State (28-34 for 318 yards and four touchdowns). Jones had similar numbers against Mississippi State (24-31 for 291 yards and four touchdowns).
Once you get past the top three, the odds are significantly longer, making it seem like the race is already down to just Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, and Mac Jones.
Zach Wilson (+3000) has had an impressive season at BYU, but with the schedule the Cougars are playing, it is hard to imagine him winning. Devonta Smith (+5000) had a stellar day for Alabama with 11 receptions for 203 yards and four touchdowns. But voters are going to give credit to the quarterback over a wide receiver.
Kyle Trask (+5000) still has an outside shot but will need to blow Georgia out of the water this weekend, dominate the rest of Florida’s schedule, and then crush Alabama in the SEC title game.
Neither Najee Harris (+5000) or Chuba Hubbard (+10000) are a big enough part of their team’s offense to win. Travis Etienne (+10000) had a chance to make his case with Trevor Lawrence out against Boston College. While he ended the day with 222 total yards and two touchdowns, voters will attribute the win more to D.J. Uiagalelei than him.
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Ian Book (+20000) has played well for Notre Dame this season. But since he has not had too many statistically significant games, he will have a hard time winning.
As for the Big Ten candidates not named Justin Fields, there is no room for error with their season being so short. All it will take is one bad game to take someone out of consideration. Sean Clifford (+20000) had a good day against Ohio State (18-30 for 281 yards and three touchdowns along with one interception), but he will need to be historically good the rest of the way even to make the final three.
Master Teague (+15000) had a solid day against Penn State (23 carries for 110 yards and a touchdown), but his lackluster game against Nebraska combined with how well Justin Fields is playing makes it hard to see him winning.
Joe Milton had a promising start to the season, and while he had a good statistical performance against Michigan State, the loss to the Spartans will be enough to scare off most voters.
While the race does appear to be down to just three guys, a new crop will be thrown in the mix this weekend when the Pac-12 starts playing. Hopes are high for USC quarterback Kedon Slovis and Oregon running back CJ Verdell.
But with their late start and short season, there will be no room for error, and every game will need to blow the minds of voters. Otherwise, there is no way a Pac-12 player cracks the top ten, let alone the final three.
Neither FanDuel nor DraftKings currently has odds for any Pac-12 player.