- The Heisman Trophy will be awarded on Saturday night
- Each of the three finalists are quarterbacks
- Sportsbooks have shifted the favorite over the last few weeks
For most of the college football season the Alabama Crimson Tide were playing one game while the rest of the country was entered in another. It was a fait accompli that ‘Bama would win the College Football Playoff and their quarterback Tua Tagovailoa would become the Heisman Trophy winner. In a turn of events, Tua was injured in the SEC Title Game, and Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray has continued to post gaudy numbers.
Even before the season began, when Tua had played in one meaningful game (sure, it was the championship game last season, but it was one half of one game) he was among the favorites. As the season moved along, his odds shortened dramatically. However, Murray and Dwayne Haskins have been remarkable recently, and some think this could be the closest voting in years.
Let’s look at the three finalists, their odds, and see if we can find an angle worth backing.
2018 Heisman Trophy
|Heisman Trophy Final Candidate||BetOnline Odds|
|Kyler Murray (Oklahoma)||-220|
|Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama)||+175|
|Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State)||+5000|
Last year he threw just 21 passes playing behind Heisman winner Baker Mayfield. Next year Murray he will be in the Oakland A’s organization, we think. This season, he has become the favorite to win the award thanks to an ability to score seemingly every time his squad has the ball, and a defense that has forced the offense to put up 50 points a game to consistently win.
Murray has accounted for nearly 5,000 yards of offense this year and 51 touchdowns. He has completed 71-percent of his passes for more than 4,000 yards with 40 touchdowns through the air and seven interceptions. In the Big XII Title Game he went 25/34 against Texas with three touchdowns and 379 yards.
His numbers are the best in the country. How do voters factor in the style of offense and urgency to produce those huge stats?
The highest profile player on the best team assumed the most important role on the roster at halftime of last season’s national title game, earned a ring, and hasn’t looked back.
Tua has 37 passing touchdowns this season, five on the ground, just four interceptions, and has thrown for 3,353 yards. For most of the season he rested during the fourth quarters, and sometimes didn’t play after halftime when the Tide were way ahead.
He was injured in the SEC Title Game, going just 10 of 25 against Georgia for 161 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. Can you lose the Heisman in one game? We shall find out.
Though he has had a great year, Haskins is likely to finish third in the balloting. Ohio State failed to make the playoff, the Big 10 was not particularly good, and the buzz is not as hot. He should be a Top 15 draft pick, and has great numbers, but this is likely a two horse race.
Throwing for 4,580 yards, 47 touchdowns, and completing 70-percent of passes is nothing to sneeze at. Hitting for 499 yards and five scores in the Big 10 Title Game is tremendous. But it came against Northwestern. Haskins last two games (54/72, 895 yards, 11 touchdowns, one interception) are amazing, but he is likely to fall short.
The Envelope, Please
This all comes down to value. More than 10 percent of voters cast their ballot prior to the Conference Title Games being played. That’s a big advantage for Tua. Murray’s numbers are crazy, but the best player on the best team, the guy who has been hyped all year is only being given a 36-percent implied probability to win? It feels closer to 50/50. Tagovailoa may not win, but there is a strong reason to like his price.