CFB betting: Best long-shot bets to win the Heisman Trophy
Before we look at the odds to win the Heisman Trophy and without reading some vague definition of the award, it's worth asking: Is it for the most valuable player? Most outstanding? Most clutch for the best team? We need to know who actually wins the award and what's required statistically.
Eighteen of the 22 winners this millennium, unsurprisingly, have been quarterbacks. Three running backs and a wide receiver make up the other four. It's been 46 seasons since Archie Griffin last won back-to-back Heisman Trophies.
Heisman winners since 2010
|2021||Bryce Young||4872 Yds / 47 TD 7 INT|
|2020||DeVonta Smith||1856 Yds / 23 TD|
|2019||Joe Burrow||5671 Yds / 60 TD 6 INT|
|2018||Kyler Murray||4361 Yds / 42 TD 7 INT|
|2017||Baker Mayfield||4627 Yds / 43 TD 6 INT|
|2016||Lamar Jackson||3543 Yds / 30 TD 9 INT|
|2015||Derrick Henry||2219 Yds / 28 TD|
|2014||Marcus Mariota||4454 Yds / 42 TD 4 INT|
|2013||Jameis Winston||4057 Yds / 40 TD 10 INT|
|2012||Johnny Manziel||3706 Yds / 26 TD 9 INT|
|2011||Robert Griffin III||4293 Yds / 37 TD 6 INT|
|2010||Cam Newton||2854 Yds / 30 TD 7 INT|
DeVonta Smith's 1,856 receiving yards in 2020 were seventh-most all time and the most on a team in contention for a national championship, while fellow Alabama-alum Derrick Henry won the Heisman in 2015 with the sixth-most rushing yards ever. Two top-five single-season rushers also won the Heisman (Barry Sanders in 1988 and Marcus Allen in 1981). If you're going to win as a non-quarterback, you need to be on a contender and outshine all QBs, including your own.
Following the expansion to a College Football Playoff, when voting comes in at the end of the regular season, there are now four signal-callers for a non-QB to surpass instead of just the two in decades past.
In the last 10 years, Bryce Young, Joe Burrow, and Jameis Winston are the only three quarterbacks to win the award on the strength of just their arm, while the other five QBs qualify as dual threats. Robert Griffin, Johnny Manziel, and Lamar Jackson showed that their team only needs to be good, not great.
So who in the list below is either a dual-threat quarterback or a historically good non-quarterback on a CFP team?
Heisman Trophy odds
|Tyler Van Dyke||+3000|
*Odds available on theScore Bet, others listed at 100-1 or longer
Young and C.J. Stroud are obvious contenders, hence the very short odds. Jackson, Manziel, Winston, Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford, and Matt Leinart, all had a chance at a repeat Heisman season, but none of them could do it, which doesn't bode well for Young.
Stroud's issue, like the Alabama quarterbacks that came before Young, is that his teammates might be too good, as Smith-Njigba and Henderson are capable of splitting votes.
As an alternative, there's a selection of long shots worth splitting a bet on in a Heisman portfolio.
Dillon Gabriel (+3000)
Gabriel comes to Oklahoma with a familiar offensive coordinator, Jeff Lebby, who was his play-caller at Central Florida. That continuity should give him a chance to put up close to 50 touchdowns and 4,000-plus yards at a place that's had more than a few Heisman candidates recently.
Hendon Hooker (+60000)
Speaking of ex-UCF guys, Josh Heupel enters his second year at Tennessee with a clear No. 1 quarterback. Last year, Hooker took over from Joe Milton and still had almost 3,000 yards passing to go with 640 rushing and 36 total touchdowns to just three interceptions.
Malik Cunningham (+6000)
Cunningham also threw for close to 3,000 yards, but the pinnacle of dual-threat quarterbacks this season had over 1,000 yards on the ground as well. With another year of seasoning, can he match the exploits of former Cardinals passer Jackson who had 3,543 passing yards and 1,571 rushing yards with 42 total touchdowns?
Will Rogers (+6000)
Rogers had the second-most passing yards last year at 4,449, and he'll need to surpass that number given he isn't a threat on the ground. In a second season under Mike Leach and with an opportunity for an attention-getting upset or two in the SEC, Rogers has a path to the Downtown Athletic Club.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson (+10000)
Marcus Mariota's 5,000-plus total yards and 58 touchdowns may be unreachable, but Thompson-Robinson also has a fourth season running Chip Kelly's offense and may find himself in numerous stat-stuffing shootouts this season.
Each quarterback will have a chance to put up big numbers on a good-enough team, so if a national contender wins without a spectacular season from any one player, at least one of our quintet can end up in New York on a Saturday in December.
Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.
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