Marcus Mariota Odds to win the 2014 Heisman Trophy
by Dave Schwab - 7/2/2014
The Pac-12's Oregon Ducks developed into an offense power under the guidance of Chip Kelly in recent years, but after he decided to ply his trade in the NFL after the 2012 season, there were some question marks as to which direction this program might head with Mark Helfrich at the helm.
With the help of sophomore quarterback Marcus Mariota as the team's starter, the Ducks picked up where they left off in 2012 with an offense that finished the 2013 season ranked second in Division 1A. Oregon was ranked ninth in rushing the ball with an average of 273.5 yards a game, but the overall attack was well-balanced with a passing game that averaged 291.5 yards as well. When it came to putting points on the board the Ducks were right up there with the best in the nation with an average of 45.5 points per game, which was the fourth-highest total in the country.
Mariota's numbers in 2013 were equally impressive with 3,665 yards passing on 386 attempts for a completion rate of 63.5 percent. He threw for 31 touchdowns while getting picked off only four times. His overall rating ended up at a solid 167.7. Mariota also contributed heavily with his legs by gaining 715 yards and nine touchdowns on 96 carries for an average of 7.4 yards an attempt. The Heisman voters were obviously not impressed considering he did not even finish in the Top 10 in the final voting for last season's award.
Part of the reason for the oversight could have been directly related to Oregon's 26-20 loss to Stanford on Nov. 7. Mariota came into that contest with a bad left knee, which could have accounted for a 20-for-34 passing performance for 250 yards that also included a lost fumble. He was considered by most to be a legitimate Heisman hopeful before the Stanford game, but his stock went on a downward slide from that point on.
Oregon's only other loss last season was a 42-16 pasting at the hands of Arizona; that put the final nail into Mariota' chances to win last year's award for most outstanding college football player. He did throw for 308 yards and two touchdowns, but he was also intercepted twice. Prior to the first interception of the day against the Wildcats, he had thrown a Pac-12 record 353 passes without completing one to the opposing team.
This just goes to show you how one or two bad performances can easily undermine an overall successful season in the Heisman Trophy voters' minds. Mariota finished 2013 with the seventh-best passer rating in the nation, which was higher than four other quarterbacks that finished in the Top 10 of the Heisman voting.
Bovada has remained pretty high on his chances to wow the voters this season by opening him as a 4/1 second-favorite to win this year's Heisman Trophy when the futures odds were first released in January. Since then, Mariota has remained a strong second favorite even though his odds have been driven up slightly by the betting public to 11/2 in Bovada's most recent release.
There is little doubt that he will have a major impact on Oregon's success this season as, once again, one of the projected favorites to win the Pac-12, but the key to winning the Heisman will be his ability to avoid the trap game or games that ended his run as a hopeful last season. The Ducks' 2014 schedule starts out with a home game against South Dakota on Saturday, Aug. 30, but Mariota will quickly have a golden opportunity to jump to the front of the pack in the voters' minds with a home game against Michigan State on Sept. 6.
As the season progresses, he will also have a chance to avenge both losses from last season with Arizona coming to town on Thursday, Oct. 2 followed by a home game against the Cardinal on Saturday, Nov. 1.
Mariota will face some stiff competition from a few other quality quarterbacks to snag this year's Heisman, but he will also have ample opportunity to prove he is deserving of this award if he can excel in these three games as well as the rest of Oregon's schedule. Unfortunately, given the Ducks' resent history of failing to step up in the big games on their schedule, I am going to shy away from Mariota's odds to win in light of the current value.
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Read more articles by Dave Schwab
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