By: Travis Pulver
Part of the reason why Joe Burrow was such a great story at LSU last season was that no one really saw him coming. The year before, he only completed 57.8 percent (219-for-379) of his passes for 2894 yards and 16 touchdowns with five interceptions. He was not bad, but he was nothing special.
If anything, he was the definition of adequate—which was why he was a long shot at winning the Heisman at +20000 heading into last season. For those that believed, their faith paid off.
As the 2020 season draws near, fans must be wondering who this year’s Joe Burrow could be.
Longshot Heisman Odds: Is Anyone Worth the Risk?
Lots of guys have insanely long odds. But how do you figure out which ones are worth betting on?
He can’t be a superstar. Talent is a must, but fans need to be surprised when he blows up the first couple weeks of the season. If he is already being talked about for his NFL potential, he isn’t really a longshot.
His team’s schedule must have at least a few tough games on it. To be the man, you have to beat the man (Ric Flair “Woooo”). Voters like to see talented players shine. But, to get Heisman votes, they need to shine against the better teams in the country— and win.
Heisman winners do not come from teams that lose a lot (or even a little).
Also, Heisman winners can’t do it alone. They need help in the form of other talented players. Running backs need an offensive line that can block, quarterbacks need wide receivers that can catch, and wide receivers need a quarterback that can throw.
In short, they need to be good but not great (yet), they need to face and beat some great teams, and the team needs to be talented. There just so happens to be a few guys that fit that description:
- Kyle Trask, QB, Florida; +4500 (odds via FanDuel)
He isn’t exactly an unknown commodity after rising from obscurity last season to lead the Gators to an 11-2 record and a bowl win. With the team surrounding him, the talent will be there. In the SEC, the schedule will certainly be tough enough, too.
The question, of course, is whether he can take his game to the next level. If he does and Florida wins the SEC, he could be headed to New York in early December for a particular ceremony.
- CJ Verdell, RB, Oregon; +8000
With a first-year starter at quarterback this season, the Ducks will likely lean on Verdell and the defense to lead the way. However, with the Pac-12 not being held in the highest regard, the Ducks will need to go undefeated and win the conference for Verdel to have a shot.
That is, as long as he remains the focal point of the offense, can average 6.2 yards/carry (like last season) or better, and gets into the endzone more often (he had eight touchdowns last season).
- John Rhys Plumlee, QB Ole Miss; +6000
Joe Burrow got some help becoming a superstar from passing game coordinator Joe Brady. Maybe an offensive mastermind like Lane Kiffin can do the same for Plumlee (a dual-threat QB). He will get tested with games against Baylor, Auburn, LSU, Alabama, Florida, and Texas A&M).
Should he pass each test with flying colors, he could go from being a longshot to a sure thing.
The Best Running Back Longshot Heisman Odds
- Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State; +5000
He finished 8th in the Heisman vote last season, led the country in rushing yards with 2094, and scored 21 touchdowns. But with the bias towards quarterbacks, his odds of winning are not high despite his undeniable talent.
Should he produce as well again this year and lead the Cowboys to a Big 12 title (which is possible), we could see a running back win the Heisman for the first time since 2015.
- Najee Harris, RB, Alabama; +8000
Quarterbacks usually win the Heisman, but the last two running backs to take home the trophy both came from Alabama. With the offensive line Harris has coming back, and a question mark at quarterback, Alabama is probably going to lean on him heavy early on.
With the stat sheet he will produce, he will go from longshot to favorite pretty quick.
- JT Daniels, QB, Georgia; +12500 (odds via BetMGM)
Daniels could be the dark horse of all dark horses. He will need a waiver from the NCAA after transferring from USC to Georgia just to be eligible to play—and that is the easy part. The tough part will be beating out another transfer, former Wake Forest QB Jamie Newman.
However, should he do so, the stage will be set for a Joe Burrow-like emergence. He was good but not great during his freshman campaign at USC. The Bulldogs have a talented roster that can help make him look good. Georgia’s schedule is the kind voters love, and he will be in the SEC.
Everyone watches/follows the SEC.