Nick Marshall Odds to win the 2014 Heisman Trophy
by Dave Schwab - 7/8/2014
The Auburn Tigers came into the 2013 football season as an afterthought in the stacked SEC after winning just three games the year before. Nick Marshall was handed the reins to the Tigers' starting quarterback position as a junior college transfer and proceeded to lead the team all the way to the BCS Championship Game against Florida State.
Auburn running back Tre Mason garnered all the attention on this team when it came to last year's Heisman Trophy, and he went on to finish sixth in the final vote. Bovada has set Marshall's odds to win this season's award as the most outstanding college football player at 9/1, which are currently the fifth-best Heisman betting odds on the list.
It may be hard for Auburn to recreate the magic that led to an improbable 7-1 romp through the SEC last season, including a stunning 34-28 victory over Alabama as a 10-point road underdog to earn a spot in the conference championship. However, with Marshall at the helm expectations are running high.
He threw for just 1,739 yards and 12 touchdowns against five interceptions in the regular season, but he showed some electrifying playmaking skills with another 1,023 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground. Against Missouri in the SEC title game he completed 9-of-11 passing attempts for 132 yards and one touchdown while rushing for 101 yards and a score on the ground.
Given the stiff competition he will face to actually win this season's Heisman, he will probably have to blow these numbers out of the water this time around to attract enough votes, but at 6-foot-1, 210 lbs., he has the size and speed to get the job done. It also helps that he plays in an offensive system that is designed to take full advantage of his skills. Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn has already shown some signs that the offense will rely more heavily on the passing game this season after Marshall threw for 236 yards and four touchdowns in the Tigers' recent spring game.
Marshall will have some solid weapons in the passing game to showcase his big-play ability as a quarterback. Returning from last year's squad is Sammie Coates, who is being touted as one of the top receivers in the nation. He caught 42 balls for 902 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013, but the statistic that really jumps off the page is an average of 21.5 yards a catch. The Tigers will also have wide receiver D'haquille Williams in the fold as another junior college transfer that is expected to light things up this season.
With Mason off to the NFL as one of the newest members of the St. Louis Rams, Marshall should have more than enough opportunity to show off his rushing skills as well. He averaged 6.6 yards a carry on the ground last year, so you have to believe that the Tigers will be able to move the ball down the field rather quickly when you combine his passing skills with his ability to run with the ball.
Looking at Auburn's schedule for 2014 , it will kick things off with an early SEC West clash against Arkansas on Aug. 30. The Razorbacks are coming off a winless campaign in the conference last season, but the Heisman hopeful can still attract some early attention with a big game against a conference opponent. He should also be able to turn some votes his way with Kansas State on the schedule as a quality nonconference opponent out of the Big 12. As the season wears on, Marshall will once again get a chance to face all the familiar foes in the SEC highlighted by home games against LSU and South Carolina in October and of course the season-ending battle against Alabama on the road.
There are quite a few college football experts that are extremely high on Marshall's chances to win this year's Heisman. However, when you take into consideration the level of competition the Tigers will have to face combined with the fact that they will not sneak up on anyone this season, this will make Marshall's run to college football's most prestigious award all that much harder to accomplish.
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