- The early Heisman odds have two running backs at the top.
- Bettors shouldn’t pick the kid from Stanford, as a general rule.
- How you feel about Michigan QB Shea Patterson is a measure of your faith in the NCAA.
The Heisman is maybe the trickiest futures bet you can make. The voters are fickle; it’s impossible to predict what will and won’t be important; and winning requires putting together an anomalously good season, and doing so in a way people can see.
BetOnline is the first sportsbook to post odds on this unique prize, and we’ve broken down the top six players on their list. (Read full BetOnline sportsbook review.)
Bryce Love (RB, Stanford): +450
Bryce Love was briefly the favorite to win the Heisman last year, but the Stanford running back still faces all the same challenges that prevented him from winning, and hampered Christian McCaffrey’s efforts before him. Stanford still plays on the west coast, in a west-coast time slot that prevents the bulk of Heisman voters from seeing his heroics, in a west-coast conference that voters are maybe/probably/totally biased against.
I love the way Bryce Love runs, but I loved the way he ran last year, and I loved the way Christian McCaffrey ran the year before that, and I loved the way Andrew Luck did just about everything in 2010 and 2011.
Betting Tip: Pass. Those odds are way to short for anyone with a tree on his helmet.
Jonathan Taylor (RB, Wisconsin): +600
What can you say about Jonathan Taylor that hasn’t already been said about the long line of superstar running backs Wisconsin lures to Madison with stories of offensive linemen the size of Volvos and A-gaps you can host a concert in? In fact, what can you say about Jonathan Taylor that hasn’t already been said about Bryce Love?
Taylor is a reliably productive and occasionally spectacular running back; he plays football the way a lot of Heisman voters think is the “right way,” except he plays before the east coast goes to bed and in one of the three acceptable conferences. He’s certainly a safer pick than Love, and is offered at much better odds.
Betting Tip: If you want to take one of the favorites, Taylor is a much better pick than Bryce Love. He has a lot of the same qualities and none of the dumb obstacles.
Jake Fromm (QB, Georgia): +1000
Jake Fromm was deeply impressive as a true freshman, taking over for an injured Jacob Eason and quarterbacking the Georgia Bulldogs to an SEC championship, a Rose Bowl win, and a National Championship game appearance. He achieved more than anyone could have reasonable expected, and he will be remembered in Georgia legend for generations to come.
That said, it wasn’t exactly his spectacular play that got the Dawgs to the last game of the year. He was relied upon to make some plays on third down, and performed admirably, but the bulk of Georgia’s offensive production came from one of the best running back tandems in college football history. It will be interesting to see what Fromm can do without either Nick Chubb or Sony Michel, and it will be fun to see him in a bigger role, but there’s a reason AJ McCarron didn’t win a Heisman.
Betting Tip: Again, pass. Love Jake Fromm, he contributes a ton to Georgia’s team, but he isn’t the kind of spectacle that wins this trophy.
Tua Tagovailoa (QB, Alabama): +1200
Tua is an unbelievably good true freshman, and his performance in the second half of the national championship game was nothing short of heroic. Reportedly, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll wanted to make use of the Hawaiian wonder-teen earlier, but that doesn’t change the fact that we have, in total, about fifteen minutes of total film on Tua.
With Daboll off to the Buffalo Bills, and Jalen Hurts still on the roster, we don’t even know that Tua will be Alabama’s starting quarterback in 2018. If he is, he won’t be a shiny new object Saban pulls out of his secret stash, and probably won’t produce quite like he did against Georgia.
Betting Tip: If everything goes right, Tua will probably win a Heisman one day. Betting that it will happen this year, at these odds, it’s a bit of a stretch. Pass.
Khalil Tate (QB, Arizona): +1400
Khalil Tate comes with all the problems of Bryce Love, but is also a quarterback playing under a new head coach who had one incredible month and some pretty iffy games. Tate flashed potential for brilliance — I’d argue that nobody played better in October at any position — but waned down the stretch. He’s a great player, in a certain context, and was laughably productive for a while there, but there’s no way to know how he’ll fare under Kevin Sumlin.
Maybe he’ll be great and win a Heisman like Johnny Manziel did, or maybe there will be an adjustment period.
Betting Tip: I’m going to pass, and then feel very stupid when Tate roasts BYU in Week 1, then feel better when another Kevin Sumlin team falls apart down the stretch.
Shea Patterson (QB, Michigan): +1600
Raising the stakes from Tua Tagovailoa’s “quarterbacks we don’t know are going to be starting,” Shea Patterson comes to us as a quarterback we don’t know is eligible. That ruling will only come down in late March or early April, and while everyone expects the star passer to play for Michigan in 2018, it’s not unlike the NCAA to make some bizarre decisions.
What you shouldn’t worry about is Patterson’s credentials as a player. He’s one of the best passers you’ll find anywhere in the country, and occasionally turned Ole Miss’s postseason-ineligible 2017 season into a Harlem Globetrotters-esque exhibition show. You ever see someone throw 489 yards and five touchdowns, just for fun? Flick the ball 30 yards down the field with an Alabama defensive end in his face just because he can? Shea Patterson has done all of that, and now he’s headed to a Michigan team that seemingly has everything except a quarterback.
If he’s eligible, he should ball out on the stacked 2018 Wolverines, and get all the attention in the world.
Betting Tip: At +1600, Patterson is the first player to make any kind of sense.