Florida State running back Dalvin Cook finished seventh in last year's final Heisman Trophy voting with just 79 total points, but he is being touted as a solid contender to win this year's award as college football's top player in the nation. MyBookie has the junior back pretty high on its current Heisman Trophy futures list at +900 betting odds to win, and there could be some solid value in that number if everything falls into place.
Cook racked up 1,691 rushing yards and 19 rushing touchdowns last season as a sophomore on 229 attempts for an impressive average of 7.4 yards a carry. This set a new team record for most rushing yards in a single season. He was also a good target catching the ball out of the backfield with 24 receptions for 244 yards and one score, and his overall all-purpose yards (1,935) also set a new single-season record at Florida State. This followed a freshman campaign in which he ran the ball 170 times for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns, so you can easily see that he is moving in the right direction.
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Florida State ended last season on a sour note with a 38-24 loss to Houston in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl after going 10-2 in the regular season. The Seminoles were ranked 56th in the nation in rushing yards per game (180.9) as part of an offense that racked up 425 total yards and 35.3 points a game. Cook was a huge part of that production, and he is expected to play a major role in the Seminoles' offensive attack in 2016 given some major question marks in the passing game.
The one concern with Cook is staying healthy for the entire season. He probably would have finished higher in last season's Heisman vote if he did not miss some playing time due to a nagging hamstring and ankle injury. He missed the entire game against Syracuse in late-October and was limited in his carries against both Boston College and Wake Forest earlier in the year.
The one big positive from last season was Cook's 183 yards rushing and two scores against archrival Florida in the Seminoles' season finale, However, he closed out his sophomore campaign on a down note with just 33 yards rushing on 18 carries in that bowl game loss to Houston. You have to wonder what kind of impression that made on the Heisman voters heading into 2016.
Turning to this year's schedule , Florida State will open its season on Monday, Sept. 5 in a nationally-broadcast matchup against Ole Miss in Orlando. This will give Cook a large stage to make a big impression right out of the gate. However, it could also put him in a huge hole with the voters if he is not at his best. The next big game on the schedule is a road trip to Louisville on Sept. 17. MyBookie has listed Clemson (+120) at the top of its futures list to win the ACC this season, followed by Florida State (+180). The Cardinals are fourth on that list at +700, so this becomes an important game for Cook as well.
Miami is a +600 third-favorite to win the conference, and it will play host to the Seminoles on Oct. 8. Florida State's annual showdown against Clemson will take place in Tallahassee on Saturday, Oct.29. These are two other important dates to circle on the calendar as far as Cook's chances to win the 2016 Heisman. If he can live up to expectations in each of these four marquee games, he should have a chance to really rack up some votes down the stretch in games against Boston College, Syracuse and Florida.
Overall, Cook is an interesting option at +900 odds. He could live in the shadow of Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson as the top favorite in the ACC to win the Heisman, but the running back position could be in vogue with voters this season on the heels of Derrick Henry's award-winning season in 2015.
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