A quick look at MyBookie's updated betting odds to win this season's Heisman Trophy as the top college football player in the nation reveals that last season's runner-up Christian McCaffrey has been listed as a close +500 third-favorite behind LSU running back Leonard Fournette (+300) and Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson (+450). The Stanford junior was second in the voting last year to Alabama running back Derrick Henry with 1,539 points verses Henry's 1,832 points in one of the closest Heisman votes in recent memory. Watson was actually third on that short list with 1,165 points, and Fournette came in sixth with 110 points.
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McCaffrey was a perfect example of how a player can come out of nowhere to rise up the list of Heisman hopefuls as the college football season wears on. As a freshman running back with the Cardinal in 2014, he ran the ball only 42 times for 300 yards. He also added 17 receptions that season for 251 yards and two touchdowns. He remained completely under the radar through his first two games last season with 66 yards rushing in a stunning 16-6 loss to Northwestern in Stanford's opener followed by 58-yard effort on 20 carries in a 31-7 victory against Central Florida.
The ball started rolling from there with 720 yards on the ground in his next four games, including 243 yards and four touchdowns on 25 rushing attempts in Stanford's impressive 56-35 win at home against UCLA. McCaffrey was held to 94 yards on 27 carries later in the season in a thrilling 38-36 win against Notre Dame at home, but the following week in the Pac-12 title game against Southern Cal he garnered some additional votes by gaining 207 yards on 32 carries to help the Cardinal hammer the Trojans 41-22.
All told, McCaffrey rushed for 2019 yards and eight touchdowns on 337 attempts to finish the season with the second-most rushing yards in the nation behind Henry (2,219 yards). He also added 45 receptions for 645 yards and five touchdowns through the air. Adding to his credibility as a legitimate Heisman threat, he accumulated 1,070 yards on 37 kickoff returns, including one for 98 yards and a score. When you add it all up, McCaffrey ended up setting a new college football single-season record for all-purpose yards in 2015.
At 6-foot-1, 201 lbs., he has the size and speed to potentially eclipse last year's accomplishments with a fast start out of the gate in 2016 in what could very well be his last season at the college level before moving on to the NFL. Word out of Stanford's spring practice was that he came in even stronger and faster than he was at the same time last season.
Stanford is coming off a very successful 12-2 campaign in 2015 that resulted in the team being ranked No. 3 in the final AP Top 25. MyBookie has the Cardinal listed at +1500 betting odds to win a national title, and they are +240 favorites to successfully defend last season's conference title. All this adds up to is a ton of national exposure that could work to fuel McCaffrey's Heisman Trophy chances.
Looking at Stanford's 2016 schedule , the Cardinal open up at home against the Big 12's Kansas State Wildcats on Friday, Sept. 2, in a nationally broadcast game on Fox Sports 1. Following a week off, they return to action on Sat., Sept. 17, in a huge showdown against USC at home in what could easily end up being a preview of this season's Pac-12 Championship Game. Other key dates on the calendar include a road game against UCLA the following week and a road game against archrival Oregon on Nov. 12. If McCaffrey can find a way to shine in these four spotlight games, he would have a golden opportunity to seal the deal in voter's minds in games against Cal and Rice to close out the regular-season schedule.
Also working heavily in McCaffrey's favor is Henry's win last season as a running back. The Heisman had been dominated by quarterbacks in recent years, with player at that position winning this award every season starting with Cam Newton in 2010. Before Henry, the last running back to win this award was Alabama's Mark Ingram Jr. in 2009.
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Read more articles by Dave Schwab
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