We’ve almost reached the end of college football’s non-conference season, so we have a good feel for all 133 squads.
Much will change in conference play, especially as elite teams play against better competition. But we know the players to watch for every team.
We have a pretty good feel for the best players in college football, meaning we have a pretty good feel for the Heisman Trophy frontrunners.
Let’s analyze the Heisman race in the betting markets.
Who are the favorites? Are there any long shots primed to make a case in conference play?
Heisman odds: The favorites
Here are the current 10 favorites to win the Heisman at FanDuel Sportsbook.
|USC QB Caleb Williams||+350|
|Washington QB Michael Penix Jr.||+480|
|Texas QB Quinn Ewers||+550|
|Notre Dame QB Sam Hartman||+1000|
|Florida State QB Jordan Travis||+1200|
|Oregon QB Bo Nix||+2000|
|Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy||+2500|
|LSU QB Jayden Daniels||+2500|
|Colorado QB Shedeur Sanders||+2500|
|Oklahoma QB Dillon Gabriel||+2500|
The guy on everyone’s mind is Colorado quarterback Sheduer Sanders, who’s snuck to fifth at some books in the Heisman markets.
You have to love what Sanders and the Buffs are doing.
Sanders is second nationally in passing yards (1,251) for a 3-0 squad that beat their in-state rival last week after completing an 11-point fourth-quarter rally.
Sanders finished that game with 348 passing yards, four touchdowns and 0.32 Expected Points Added (EPA) per play.
Shedeur Sanders and Colorado Buffaoles are the mountain, and will likely run into the Oregon Ducks buzzsaw. Getty Images
Moreover, the Buffs will continue passing the ball. They’re 10th nationally in passing rate (62.6%), as Coach Prime lets his son cook.
Unfortunately, I must warn you: Don’t fall for this trap.
The Buffalos have reached the mountain top. They will never be valued higher than they are right now, and I expect regression as the season progresses.
The defense is filled with holes, and the injury to two-way superstar Travis Hunter makes the offense’s and defense’s job more difficult.
The Buffs have back-to-back matchups with Oregon and USC on deck after struggling against lowly Colorado State. It’s an uphill climb for Sanders and Co.
You must dominate for a College Football Playoff contender to win the Heisman. While Sanders might continue to stuff the stat sheet, I don’t think Colorado will find itself among the Power Five elites at the end of the year.
Two other Pac-12 quarterbacks are among the favorites, with Caleb Williams leading the way and Michael Penix right behind him.
In my opinion, Penix should be the frontrunner. He leads the nation in passing yards (1,332) for a Huskies team that ranks eighth in scoring (46.7) and first in Success Rate (58%).
The Huskies have hung huge numbers on Boise State and Michigan State. While that isn’t the most impressive schedule, those are two half-decent defenses, and Penix made them look silly.
As I said, you must dominate for a College Football Playoff contender to win the Heisman.
Well, Washington is eighth in the AP Poll and should be firmly in the CFP mix at the end of the season. Penix will continue posting video game numbers, especially with an elite receiving core led by Rome Odunze.
Betting on College Football?
I expect Penix to be in New York when the time comes. He’s the engine for one of the nation’s best teams.
However, if you want to bet on one of these favorites right now then Sam Hartman provides the most value.
Hartman leads the nation in touchdowns (13) for a Notre Dame team that continues to post 40-point games. The Irish boast a brutalizing rush game behind Audric Estime and an elite offensive line, protecting Hartman and providing plenty of explosive play opportunities.
The Irish host Ohio State this weekend. If Hartman wins that ballgame behind a solid performance, his odds will drop significantly from the current 9/1 number.
Hartman looks fantastic, and he’s not getting enough market respect yet.
But he will if Notre Dame moves to 5-0 this weekend.
Heisman odds: Long shot bets to make
The Oklahoma Sooners are exceeding the market’s expectations.
Oklahoma is 3-0 against the spread, covering the number by an average margin of 19.5 points. That latter stat is second nationally, only behind Texas State (+23.3).
The quarterback is driving that success. Dillon Gabriel has completed 82.5% of his passes for 11.3 yards per attempt, 11 touchdowns and only one interception.
The Sooners are third nationally in Success Rate, and that’s all Gabriel. The Sooners boast a middling rushing attack, but Dillon’s offense leads the nation in Passing Success Rate and Passing EPA per play.
The Sooners exceeding expectations in non-conference play bodes well for Big 12 play. They’re better than we thought and could win 10 games, especially if Gabriel plays this well.
You can bet Gabriel at 40/1 to win the Heisman at BetRivers Sportsbook.
I think the Sooners continue to overachieve behind Gabriel, who might be the most valuable quarterback in the nation. That’s worth a long shot flier to me.