While the Heisman gets all the press, there’s actually a bevy of awards bestowed on college players and coaches every year. Last year produced some interesting results: quarterback Lamar Jackson won the three prizes for player of the year (Heisman, Walter Camp, and the Maxwell Award) but somehow not the prize for quarterback of the year.
It’s all quite unpredictable, but a fun way to honor the achievements of collegiate athletes and coaches.
For bettors, even though you can’t lay money on some of the lesser awards, forecasting the favorites helps you understand which teams are strong in which areas of the game, and that, in turn, will help you make wagers on a week-to-week basis.
Heisman Trophy Odds (Outstanding Player)
- Sam Darnold, USC: 3/1
- Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma: 7/1
- JT Barrett, Ohio State: 8/1
- Lamar Jackson, Louisville: 8/1
- Jalen Hurts, Alabama: 15/1
There’s a hundred Heisman previews out there, but more or less, it’s going to come down to which of these quarterbacks puts up the craziest numbers and leads his team to the playoff. Defending Heisman-winner Lamar Jackson has incredible expectations to live up to, and while he’s demonstrably capable of scoring another 51 touchdowns, it’s certainly not guaranteed. Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, Jalen Hurts, and JT Barrett are all leaders on playoff-favorite offenses, and Barrett has been on every Heisman watchlist for the last two years. Honorable mentions go to Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph, who’s going to put up big stats in 2017, and Penn State RB Saquon Barkley.
Home Depot Award Odds (Coach of the Year)
- Clay Helton, USC: 6/1
- Jim Harbaugh, Michigan: 7/1
- James Franklin, Penn State: 8/1
- Ed Orgeron, LSU: 8/1
- Mike Gundy, OSU: 12/1
This is kind of a crapshoot, because some years it goes to the national champion or the national champion runner-up, and last year it went to the coach of Colorado. Nick Saban hasn’t won since 2008, despite dominating that entire period, and nobody’s ever won twice, so it’s unlikely that 2017 will be his year. In light of this, I’ve listed some coaches whose teams are set to have breakout years in 2017 and also have never won the award. I’m a little bearish on Harbaugh; I don’t know if the voters are going to be too eager to give “college coach of the year” to a guy who coached in the Super Bowl, but he’s also such a media darling.
Davey O’Brien Award Odds (Best Quarterback)
- Sam Darnold, USC: 3/1
- Lamar Jackson, Louisville: 6/1
- Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma: 6/1
- Deondre Francois, FSU: 8/1
- Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State: 8/1
Hey look, it’s the Heisman list again, with some notable differences. JT Barrett and Jalen Hurts, both fantastic quarterbacks to be sure, are substituted for QBs that are more spectacular individually and have less of a shot at the playoff. Deondre Francois might be a value pick here: for all the hype around some of the others, Francois played fantastically last year and is set to have a stunning season with the Seminoles. Just for fun, here’s a video of him throwing a ball over a frat house, and Rudolph throwing to a receiver on a jet ski, and Baker Mayfield getting arrested.
Doak Walker Award Odds (Best Running Back)
- Derrius Guice, LSU: 4/1
- Saquon Barkley, Penn State: 6/1
- Bo Scarbrough, Alabama: 6/1
- Justin Jackson, Northwestern: 8/1
- Myles Gaskin, Washington: 10/1
As the college game spreads out, running backs are becoming less and less the centrepieces of their offenses. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t talent at the position. Saquon Barkley had some scintillating runs for Penn State last year; Bo Scarbrough beat the University of Washington by himself in the Peach Bowl; and Derrius Guice played unbelievably as a backup to Leonard Fournette. Doak Walker-winners don’t come exclusively from national title contenders: Texas RB D’Onta Foreman won last year and Boston College’s Andre Williams won in 2013, so look for there to be a little less bias here.
Fred Biletnikoff Award Odds (Outstanding Receiver)
- Mark Andrews, Oklahoma: 8/1
- James Washington, OSU: 8/1
- Calvin Ridley, Alabama: 10/1
- Dante Pettis, Washington: 12/1
- Courtland Sutton, SMU: 16/1
Predicting WRs is, in large part, tantamount to predicting good quarterbacks, so it’s no mistake that most of these contenders are teamed up with Davey O’Brien hopefuls. Mason Rudolph’s highlight reel could double as a James Washington highlight reel, and the two get to pair up again in 2017. Calvin Ridley is moving into the #1 receiver spot with the departure of ArDarius Stewart and is looking promising going into Jalen Hurts’ sophomore season. I’ve also added SMU’s Courtland Sutton, who has attracted the favor of NFL scouts and does some absolutely unbelievable things on the field.
Chuck Bednarik Award Odds (Defensive Player of the Year)
- Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB/S Alabama: 6/1
- Derwin James, S FSU: 6/1
- Rashaan Evans, LB Alabama: 8/1
- Ed Oliver. DL Houston: 10/1
- Harold Landry, DL Boston College: 14/1
Fans of quality defensive play don’t have to wait long in 2017. Week one sees Florida State safety Derwin James face off against Alabama secondary Swiss-army-knife Minkah Fitzpatrick. In a lot of ways it’ll be a battle between the old and new, with Derwin James being the bigger and more physical defensive back, while Fitzpatrick is smaller and more versatile, one of the new generation of hybrid DB’s built to contend with the spread offences that dominate the game. Otherwise: Ed Oliver’s a beast, Harold Landry had 16.5 sacks last year, and Rashaan Evans is stepping into the Alabama linebacker role that’s produced so many Bednarick contenders.