In advance of the start of another season of NCAA football, Bovada has recently updated its futures odds to win this year's Heisman Trophy as the best player in college football. The top five players on this list are all legitimate contenders to win this season's award, but I am looking for the best value in the betting odds when it comes to picking an actual winner.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB Ohio State (7/1)
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Whenever is comes to picking someone other than a quarterback to win the Heisman, I become a bit leery given how the last five winners all played that position. If you go all the way back to 2000, only Mark Ingram in 2009 went on to win the Heisman as a running back for Alabama.
Elliott definitely has the ability to break through this season and win a Heisman after piling up 1,878 yards rushing in 2014 on 273 carries for an average of 6.9 yards an attempt. He also led the Buckeyes in touchdowns with 18, and when you add in 28 receptions for another 220 yards, he has positioned himself as Ohio State's biggest offensive weapon heading into the 2015 season.
Trevone Boykin, QB TCU (7/1)
There is some automatic value in this selection given that Boykin does have the best odds right now as a quarterback. Looking back at last year's final vote for the 2014 Heisman, he was the second quarterback on the list behind the eventual winner Marcus Mariota. He should be right in the thick of the spotlight heading into this season with TCU listed fourth on Bovada's futures to win a national title at 10/1 betting odds.
What I really like about this pick is the fact that Boykin closed out the 2014 season with one of his best performances of the year in the Horned Frogs' 42-3 rout of Ole Miss in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl. His adjusted quarterback rating in that game was 87.5, which was his second-highest rating all season long. Overall, he threw for 3,901 yards and 33 touchdowns while completing 61.2 percent of his 492 attempts. He also added another 707 yards on the ground on 152 carries.
Nick Chubb, RB Georgia (8/1)
Todd Gurley began the 2014 season as one of the most highly-touted Heisman Trophy hopefuls as Georgia's starting running back, so when he went down with an injury, Chubb made the most of his opportunity to run the ball with 1,547 rushing yards on 219 attempts for an average of 7.1 yards a carry. He added another 213 yards on 18 receptions, and on the year he scored a total of 16 touchdowns.
Gurley is off to the NFL, so Chubb could really garner some attention this season as the Bulldogs' featured back right out of the gate. If he can continue to average over seven yards every time he runs the ball, it would be hard for Heisman voters to ignore that kind of production.
Leonard Fournette, RB LSU (10/1)
This could be the most interesting player in Bovada's Top 5. As a true freshman last season, there was already some Heisman talk surrounding Fournette before his first carry for the Tigers. He went on to rush for 1,034 yards on 187 carries for an average of 5.5 yards an attempt.
One of the reasons he is so high on the list as a sophomore could be his performance in his final two games last season. He rushed for 146 yards in LSU's regular-season finale against Texas A&M and in last year's Music City Bowl against Notre Dame he racked up 143 yards while averaging a ridiculous 13 yards a carry in a losing cause.
Dak Prescott, QB Mississippi State (12/1)
I really like the value in Prescott's odds simply because the Heisman is still a quarterback-driven award. Mississippi State burst onto the scene in 2014 in the highly-competitive SEC, and his play had quite a bit to do with his team's unexpected success. He did receive some consideration from the voters as the eighth-highest player in the final Heisman tally, so it is easy to see why the expectations for this season are running high.
Prescott ended the 2014 season with 3,449 passing yards and 27 touchdown throws while completing 61.6 percent of his 396 attempts. He also showed some solid mobility with another 986 yards rushing on 210 carries. This is the kind of versatility that attracts the Heisman voters, so I would put him at a close second right now after Boykin in my final Top 5 Heisman picks. The better value in his 12/1 odds also makes him a very attractive play for this player prop.
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