2015 Heisman Trophy Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 2/4/2015
Football season is in the rearview mirror now that the Super Bowl is over. We can sit here and question Pete Carroll's play-calling for the next few months, or we can move on to next year. I choose the latter, and that means it's time to look forward to the next college football season. It's never too late to look at the Heisman race. Most years we don't have much of a sense of what to expect now, of course. Heck, aside from this year we normally don't have much of an idea what to expect in October or even early November. All of the uncertainties and the possibilities are what makes this speculation so fun - and potentially so profitable if you manage to nail the winner now. So, let's look at how the race for Heisman glory shapes up less than a month after the last season just ended (Odds to win the Heisman are from Bovada).
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Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State (6/1): It's hard to argue with Elliott as the favorite here. He had an incredible coming-out party in Ohio State's postseason run and is arguably the biggest reason that his team won it all. His Buckeyes are loaded again and will be a serious threat to repeat as champs. If a QB doesn't win then a running back is likely to, and Elliott certainly has the combination of the game, the team, and the public attention to be that running back. His biggest issue could be, as we will see in a bit, the competition from on his own team. He's a special player, though, and should be poised for a huge year if he can build on the confidence he surely gained in the second half of last season.
Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State (7/1): I'm not a believer in this price. Not at all. Don't get me wrong - I respect Prescott and his team. I just can't shake the feeling, though, that his squad achieved near the peak of their abilities for much of the year last year, and I just can't bet on that happening again. If the team doesn't stay as hot as they were for much of last year then Prescott just won't get considered. The price would need to be three times as high for me to consider it.
Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU (7/1): Fournette is an absolute freak and is poised for a big, big year. My concern, though, is that I just don't like the Tigers that much. They are a step below the elite in the SEC right now, and I think that that is going to be a big issue for Fournette's campaign. No value despite massive potential.
Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU (15/2): This is my favorite at this point. TCU comes into the season with plenty of sympathy and attention after the way they were shafted by the playoff committee, and the way they proved that they belonged in their bowl game. They are poised to be at least as good again this year, and Boykin should have an even better year than last year after gaining more experience. He had a great year last year, so if he takes a step forward he'll have a monster season. He's the QB best poised to shine at this point - at least the one we can be sure will actually play - and QBs have a big edge in this race, so there is solid value here.
Cardale Jones (14/1), J.T. Barrett (16/1), Braxton Miller (18/1), QB, Ohio State: This is, without a doubt, the strangest QB situation of my lifetime. Miller was a serious Heisman favorite heading into last season before his injury. Barrett was all but certain to get an invitation to New York last season before he was injured. In three career starts all Jones has done is win a Big Ten Championship and two playoff games. If any of the three was the certain starter for Ohio State they would be the strong favorite to win the Heisman. Instead, two are going to start the season on the bench, and it's all but impossible to predict which one has the edge. I guess you could argue that you could just bet all three and cover your bases, but the problem is that if one stumbles even slightly then Urban Meyer will waste no time making a change. Even if the starter is doing well you have to imagine that the others will get some time. I'll be watching this situation with fascination, but I can't justify betting on it.
Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson (20/1): Last year Watson couldn't stay healthy, but when he was playing he was magical. Now that he is more experienced he could be even more fun to watch. There are two issues, though. First, that health is a concern. He plays so aggressively and athletically that it is a real concern that he won't be able to play every game - and that will make it very tough for him to win. Second, Clemson is a solid team, but I don't see them as a great one, and with other strong options out there it's tough to bet on Watson. Still, I can't help but shake the feeling that if he could stay on track he could run away with this thing. He's that good.
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