Melvin Gordon Odds to win the 2014 Heisman Trophy
by Trevor Whenham - 7/23/2014
There was a time when it was almost a given that a running back would win the Heisman Trophy, which is awarded annually to college football's most outstanding player. There was a stretch from 1973 to 1983 when running backs made a clean sweep of winning this award. Flash forward to recent times, and the Heisman is now dominated by quarterbacks, with the Heisman going to this position in 12 of the last 14 years.
The good news for Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon is that it has gone to a running back the other two years. He is widely considered one of the best prospects in the nation at that position, and Bovada has set his odds to win this year's Heisman at 20/1. Todd Gurley (12/1) and TJ Yeldon (18/1) have better odds than him at the running back position and the other eight players ahead of Gordon on the Heisman's futures odds list are all quarterbacks.
His career at Wisconsin already makes him one of the best backs in school history with 621 yards on 62 carries in 2012 followed by a break-out season last year with 1,609 rushing yards on 206 carries for an average of 7.8 yards an attempt. Despite these lofty numbers, he failed to catch the attention of the voters and finished outside the Top 10 in last season's Heisman tally.
He should not have to worry about attracting attention heading into the 2014 season as a consensus preseason All-American and a leading candidate for the Doak Walker Award, which honors the nation's premier running back. The strongest attribute Gordon brings to the table is the highest yards per carry average in the country over the past two seasons. At 6-foot-1, 207 lbs., he has the size to gain the hard yards through the middle of the line, and his 4.40 time in the 40 gives him enough explosive speed to break off long gains around the end. The only real negative in his game when it comes to the pro scouts is a lack of pass-catching skills out of the backfield, but that is mainly because Wisconsin's offensive scheme has not used him that way.
Gordon also left a fresh impression on Heisman voters' minds with a spectacular performance in this year's Capital One Bowl with 143 yards on 25 carries in the Badgers' 34-24 loss to South Carolina. His biggest game last season came against Arizona State when he rushed for 193 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries, but Wisconsin still came up on the wrong end of a 32-30 shootout. His overall numbers last season could have been even more impressive if not for some nagging injuries. He left the game on Sept. 28 against Ohio State in the third quarter with a knee injury. While he still played in every gamefrom that point on, he was never really 100 percent.
The Badgers have been opened as one of the top three favorites to win the Big Ten this season behind the Buckeyes and Michigan State, and they should have the inside track to win the newly-formed West Division , which does not contain either of those two teams. Gordon should get plenty of opportunity to catch the Heisman voters' attention on an offense that finished last season ranked eighth in the nation in rushing with an average of 283.8 yards a game.
Wisconsin will be tested right out of the gate with an Aug. 30 clash against LSU in the 2014 Texas Kickoff Classic at NRG Stadium in Houston. This should be a golden opportunity to get a leg up on the Heisman competition if Gordon has a big day. The rest of the schedule is extremely manageable, with the exception of a home game against Nebraska on Nov. 15. Unfortunately, the lack of solid competition in the Big Ten's West Division could actually work against his Heisman chances no matter how many yards he racks up on the ground.
Gordon is definitely one of the more attractive prospects if you are looking for longer odds for a Heisman futures bet, but his chances of actually winning this award are slim at best given the level of competition that he will face for this year's award.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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