2017 Heisman Trophy Predictions with Odds and Expert Betting Picks
It took only seven full weeks of college football, but we finally have a new favorite in the race for the more prestigious individual award - the Heisman Trophy. For those of you on the East Coast who aren't able to stay up late and catch many Stanford games, let me introduce you to Bryce Love. Love is a standout junior that is finally getting his time to shine after biding his time behind another standout running back Christian McCaffrey. I will get to the specifics of why Love is now considered the favorite later on in this article, but I want you to keep this in mind first - Love was 100-1 to win the award before the season began.
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When I last wrote this article - before I become a husband and went on my honeymoon - I was talking about Saquon Barkley and Baker Mayfield being the only two players with a legitimate chance of getting their names mentioned with past Heisman winners. Barkley has lived up to those expectations, while Mayfield saw his stock take a hit with an unimaginable home loss to Iowa State.
Last year's winner, Lamar Jackson, has failed to live up to the ridiculously high expectations this year, thus putting him out of the running to become the second back-to-back Heisman winner in history. Meanwhile, Ohio State's J.T. Barrett has found himself back in the discussion after throwing for 18 touchdowns in his last five games.
I am going to be adding a new element to this bi-weekly piece called "Boom or Bust". This piece will give you a rating out of five in order to help you understand if a Heisman candidate will exceed expectation or fall short in their next game.
All odds are courtesy of our friends at Bovada .
Bryce Love (+140)
Boom Potential: 5 out of 5
Last year at this time, the favorite to win the Heisman was priced at odds of -250, so while Love may be the odds-on favorite to win this year's honors, he is by no means a lock to do so. However, that doesn't mean he isn't in the best possible position to claim Stanford's first Heisman trophy since Jim Plunkett in 1970.
Love entered last Saturday's game against Oregon leading the country in rushing, and he wasted absolutely no time in making his presence felt. Just five minutes into the game, Love already had 115 yards and two touchdowns on just five carries. Talk about production. Love is now up to an insane 1,387 yards so far this season (seven games), which is almost 300 more than the closest competitors.
Stanford has the luxury of a bye week this coming weekend, so unless Barkley and or Mayfield produce video-game like numbers, Love's spot atop the Heisman ranks should be secure. Looking ahead to the following week, Stanford travels to Corvallis to take on a 1-6 Oregon State team that struggles mightily to stop the run, allowing 200+ yards per game. I expect Love to continue his torrid pace in this game.
Saquon Barkley (+150)
Boom Potential: 2 out of 5
I told you three weeks ago that 2-1 odds may be the best number you get on Barkley for the rest of the season. So far, I am right as Barkley remains one of the most dynamic players in college football. He has led Penn State to a 6-0 record and a spot firmly in the College Football Playoff discussion.
Barkley and the rest of his Penn State teammates had their bye week this past weekend, so they should be fresh and ready for a massive matchup this Saturday against No. 19 Michigan. Barkley has combined for more than 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in six games this season, including finding pay-dirt eight times.
However, Barkley's Heisman campaign will be made or broken over the next three games as he will face the aforementioned Michigan Wolverines, Ohio State and Michigan State. That's a murderer's row for any high-octane offense, including Penn State's.
While I told you several times in my weekly Big Ten Report , I don't think Michigan will be able to score enough to keep pace with Penn State, and Barkley may have a tough time running the ball against the sixth-rank run defense in the country. If Barkley is to produce in this game, his best bet would be to do so out of the backfield as a pass-catching back - something he is exceptionally good at.
Baker Mayfield (+550)
Boom Potential: 3 out of 5
The last time I wrote about Baker Mayfield, I said he should flourish in a home game against an Iowa State team that gives up 400+ yards per game. Mayfield held up his end of the deal in throwing for 306 and two touchdowns, but it was the defense that let the team down and potentially squashed OU's playoff chances. Mayfield didn't give up though, as he shredded Texas the very next week for 302 and two touchdowns despite taking a massive hit that would've knocked most quarterbacks out of the game.
Mayfield is a warrior in every sense of the word, and just by watching him on Saturday's you can envision yourself watching him on Sundays when declares for the NFL Draft.
Up next for Mayfield and his OU teammates is a trip to Manhattan, Kansas, to take on Kansas State. The line currently lists the Sooners as 14-point favorites with the total set at 54. Mayfield should be able to move the ball up and down the field against a Wildcats team that gives up more than 240 passing yards per game to opposing quarterbacks.
J.T. Barrett (+900)
Boom Potential: 4 out of 5
For those who have a short memory, J.T. Barrett is the record-setting quarterback for Ohio State. He was among the preseason Heisman favorites but was quickly written off after a shaky start to this season. Those that were quick to dismiss Barrett are eating crow now as the Buckeyes' signal caller has thrown for 1,351 yards and 18 touchdowns on 72 percent completions since the early loss to the Sooners. He has also accumulated 232 yards rushing and four touchdowns to lead the Buckeyes' offense.
Being able to put up numbers like that in any stretch of the season is not something to take lightly. Barrett has Ohio State in the thick of the Big Ten race and should they get to and win the Big Ten Title game, potentially back in the CFP discussion.
Barrett and Co. have a bye week this week that will help prepare them for a crucial game against Penn State the following week. Revenge will be on the mind of every OSU player and alumni, and the Buckeyes may be catching Penn State at the right time - after a crucial game against a hard-hitting Michigan defense. If Barrett can continue his stellar production and help Ohio State win out, there could be a very good case to be made for the Heisman to head back to Columbus.
Lamar Jackson (+1800)
Boom Potential: 3 out of 5
When you have a season like Lamar Jackson did last year and capture the Heisman Trophy, the chances of replicating that production is slim to none. Yet, here we are. Jackson became the first FBS QB in 20 years to post his second game with 300 pass yards and 150 rush yards. Unfortunately, that production was in a losing effort as his Cardinals' team lost to Boston College on a last-second field goal. Jackson is fourth in the country in passing yards and 15th in rushing yards.
At this point last season, Jackson was -250 to capture the Heisman, which is absurd considering how drastic the college football landscape can shift from week to week. Jackson may not defend his crown, but there is no doubt he is still one of the most dangerous college players in recent memory.
The next team that has the unenviable task of trying to contain Jackson is Florida State, who has their own issues on both sides of the football. The Seminoles have been ravaged by injury, but their defense remains the team's best unit as they give up just a shade over 330 yards per game, which puts them 28th in the nation. Jackson will be in tough to replicate last week's 512 yards of total offense performance.
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