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Heisman Futures: It’s Mayfield’s World, We Are Just Living In It

With less than a month left in the college football regular season, it has become abundantly clear that Baker Mayfield deserves the Heisman. The Oklahoma quarterback has produced ridiculous performances week in and week out all season long while carrying the Sooners to victory more than once.

In the past two weeks, Mayfield was expected to face maybe the toughest two-game stretch of the season. First, there was Bedlam vs Oklahoma State, then a date with TCU, which owned the best passing defense in the Big 12. The senior calmly threw for a combined 931 yards and eight touchdowns while completing 66.7 percent of his passes.

Mayfield is first in the nation in completion percentage, first in quarterback rating, second in passing yards and third in touchdown passes. He has done so despite the fact that Oklahoma entered the season missing four of its top five receivers from 2016.

Because of his consistent excellence, Mayfield finds himself as an overwhelming -2000 favorite to finally win the Heisman after finishing third and fourth in voting the past two seasons.

Expect even more big numbers from Mayfield and the Oklahoma offense this weekend, as they play the lowly Kansas Jayhawks. Kansas has the 199th-ranked passing defense in the country and has allowed 26 passing touchdowns while managing just four interceptions.

2017 Heisman Trophy Winner
PlayerOdds
Baker Mayfield (QB Oklahoma)-2000
Saquon Barkley (RB Penn State)+1000
Bryce Love (RB Stanford)+1000

Odds as of November 13 at Bovada

Archived Articles

For weeks, it seemed as though Saquon Barkley was going to cruise to the Heisman Trophy. But back-to-back mediocre performances have led to a new front-runner emerging from the pack.

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield now finds himself as a -175 favorite to finally win the Heisman after finishing third and fourth in voting the past two seasons. Barkley’s recent struggles have occurred just as Mayfield has really found his groove. The OU signal-caller has accounted for 891 yards and 11 touchdowns in the past two games – including a record-setting performance in Bedlam.

Some will want to dismiss Mayfield’s absurdly good numbers as a byproduct of playing within the Big 12 – aka the defense-optional conference. However, the senior threw for 386 yards with three touchdowns against Ohio State and tallied 363 yards and three touchdowns vs Iowa State, who ranked in the top 20 in the nation in defense at the time.

You should not expect Mayfield’s dominance to end any time soon, as Oklahoma’s final three regular-season opponents rank 56th, 99th and 118th in passing defense this season.

With the likes of Barkley and Bryce Love faltering, Mayfield is set to continue his assault on the record books and toward a Heisman.

2017 Heisman Trophy Winner
PlayerOdds
Baker Mayfield (QB Oklahoma)-175
Saquon Barkley (RB Penn State)+150
Josh Adams (RB Notre Dame)+800
Bryce Love (RB Stanford)+1000
Mason Rudolph (QB Oklahoma State)+2800
J.T. Barrett (QB Ohio State)+3300
Lamar Jackson (QB Louisville)+4000

Odds as of November 6 at Bovada

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Maybe it is because Notre Dame has gone under the radar for most of the season. Maybe it is because other running backs are getting more notoriety. But after over two months of play, Josh Adams is finally getting his respect as a fringe Heisman candidate.

The Fighting Irish running back has been absolutely decimating competition, as Adams is fifth in the nation in rushing yards and third in yards per attempt. His marquee performance came this past weekend, as Adams rushed for 202 yards and a touchdown against NC State – a top 25 rushing defense in the nation.

Of course, not all the credit goes to Adams. Though the junior has been performing on a fantastic level, his offensive line is mauling opponents. Left tackle Mike McGlinchey and guard Quenton Nelson form one of the best offensive line duos in the country and both will get first-round buzz in the upcoming NFL draft.

Don’t expect Adams’ dominance to slow down any time soon, as Notre Dame’s final four regular-season opponents all rank outside the top 50 in rushing defense. And with quarterback Brandon Wimbush still more of a runner than a passer, expect the offense to continue to revolve around Adams as the season comes to an end.

I’m not going to advocate that Adams should win the Heisman over Saquon Barkley or Bryce Love but the Notre Dame back should be listed on every voter’s ballot. 

2017 Heisman Trophy Winner
PlayerOdds
Saquon Barkley (RB Penn State)-175
Bryce Love (RB Stanford)+400
J.T. Barrett (QB Ohio State)+450
Baker Mayfield (QB Oklahoma)+450
Josh Adams (RB Notre Dame)+1000
Mason Rudolph (QB Oklahoma State)+3300
Lamar Jackson (QB Louisville)+4000

Odds as of October 31 at Bovada

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It is surprising that it took this long but Penn State running back Saquon Barkley is now the odds-on favorite to win the Heisman. Though Barkley was dominating every defense he faced this season, it was a date against a top-ranked squad in Michigan that cemented his place atop the Heisman odds.

Michigan’s defense led the nation in total yards entering their contest with Penn State. That did not stop Barkley, as the junior racked up 161 yards of offense and three touchdowns on just 18 touches. That means he averaged 8.9 yards per touch against one of the stoutest defenses in the nation.

Barkley leads the nation in all-purpose yards with 1,478 through just seven games. At this pace, he would amass 2,534 all-purpose yards and 19 touchdowns during the regular season. That would not be including a potential Big Ten title game and bowl outing.

Seemingly the only player within striking distance of Barkley is Bryce Love of Stanford. Love is averaging a ludicrous 10.3 yards per carry and is second in the nation in all-purpose yards. Expect the Stanford back to pad those stats even more this week, as he will be facing off against an Oregon State defense that is surrendering 200.1 rushing yards per game.

2017 Heisman Trophy Winner
PlayerOdds
Saquon Barkley (RB Penn State)-275
Bryce Love (RB Stanford)+300
Baker Mayfield (QB Oklahoma)+1200
J.T. Barrett (QB Ohio State)+1400
Jalen Hurts (QB Alabama)+2000
Mason Rudolph (QB Oklahoma State)+3300
Lamar Jackson (QB Louisville)+3300

Odds as of October 24 at Bovada

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If you ask most college football fans, the race for the Heisman is already down to two. Though in all likelihood either Saquon Barkley or Bryce Love will walk away with the statue this season, there is still plenty of time for another contender to emerge.

So bettors need to ask themselves if there is a long shot worth taking?

First, we must look at the recent history of the Heisman. Last season, eventual winner Lamar Jackson was already a massive -250 favorite by this time of year. Clearly no long-shot value in that field. But the 2015 season offers some hope. At the beginning of October 2015, Alabama running back Derrick Henry was +1600 to win the Heisman.

That changed rather quickly when Henry and front-runner Leonard Fournette squared off one-on-one in a marquee matchup between Alabama and LSU. While Henry flourished, Fournette struggled and the eventual winner immediately cemented himself as the favorite for the remainder of the season.

One player is in prime position to copy the same formula this season and still holds value. Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph is currently +900 to win the Heisman and the Cowboys have a date with the Oklahoma Sooners. If Rudolph can continue his torrid pace and then outperform Mayfield, voters might turn their heads toward the Okie State signal-caller.

Now, Rudolph does have a major factor playing against him, which is his performance against TCU. Oklahoma State faced one ranked team this season (TCU) and lost with Rudolph producing a rather pedestrian outing. That means that Rudolph is really going to need to perform at Bedlam and possibly in the Big 12 championship to put himself into real Heisman contention.

The other value play that sticks out is J.T. Barrett of Ohio State. Much like Rudolph, Barrett struggled in his one appearance against a ranked team this season. But unlike Rudolph, Barrett has plenty of chances to rectify that. Ohio State plays three more games during the regular season against ranked teams, with two of those teams having a top-five defense in the nation. If he can look good against that top-flight competition, then Barrett will at least get some votes.

The biggest concern is Barrett’s history in big-time games. The Buckeyes signal-caller has never played his best when the lights shine the brightest and pads his stats against lesser competition in the Big Ten. If he can step up – which I admit is a big “if” – Barrett can write a story of beating his demons and the voters love that.

Long-shot value for Heisman bettors is not exactly easy to find at this point of the season. The contenders and pretenders tend to separate themselves by now. But Rudolph and Barrett offer the best value right now for someone willing to take a risk.

2017 Heisman Trophy Winner
PlayerOdds
Saquon Barkley (RB Penn State)+140
Bryce Love (RB Stanford)+140
Baker Mayfield (QB Oklahoma)+550
Mason Rudolph (QB Oklahoma State)+900
J.T. Barrett (QB Ohio State)+900
Lamar Jackson (QB Louisville)+1800
Sam Darnold (QB USC)+4000
Jalen Hurts (QB Alabama)+5000
Jake Browning (QB Washington)+5000
Luke Falk (QB Washington State)+6600
Rashaad Penny (RB San Diego State)+7500
Quinton Flowers (QB South Florida)+7500
J.K. Dobbins (RB Ohio State)+7500
Nick Chubb (RB Georgia)+7500
Trace McSorley (QB Penn State)+10000
Kerryon Johnson (RB Auburn)+15000

Odds as of October 17 at Bovada

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Entering the college football season, people in the know knew that Bryce Love had the ability to replace Christian McCaffrey for Stanford. However, nobody thought he was going to thrust himself into the Heisman conversation. But here we are.

The running back carved up competition during the non-conference portion of the schedule but he was supposed to do that. Love really made people take notice by rushing for 564 yards and four touchdowns while averaging 10.3 yards per carry through the first two games of Pac-12 play.

On the year as a whole, Love paces the entire country with 1,088 rushing yards and it’s not even close. Second is Rashaad Penny, who has 823, and third is Jeffery Wilson at 666.

It’s Love’s explosiveness that makes him truly special. Through five games, he has six rushes of 50-plus yards, something only 10 FBS players have done in an entire season since 2004. Love is averaging 11.1 yards per carry on 98 carries this season; the next closest player with at least 50 touches is averaging 9.0.

Love is on pace to amass 2,611 rushing yards – that’s without a bowl game. That would put him just 17 yards behind the NCAA record for rushing yards held by Barry Sanders. Assuming Stanford makes a bowl game, Love would theoretically destroy the record that has stood for nearly 30 years.

The only reason you are likely not hearing more about Love is Stanford’s mediocre 3-2 record on the season. It’s not overly fair to the junior but Love has proven to be one of the top two running backs in the entire country whether you know who he is or not.

Books have taken notice, that’s for sure. Love wasn’t even listed on the Heisman board until September 18 – comparably, Saquon Barkley was listed way back in July. Since opening at +6600 to win the Heisman, Love has made the massive jump to +1400 in just two weeks.

2017 Heisman Trophy Winner
PlayerOdds
Saquon Barkley (RB Penn State)+125
Baker Mayfield (QB Oklahoma)+225
Mason Rudolph (QB Oklahoma State)+900
Lamar Jackson (QB Louisville)+1000
Sam Darnold (QB USC)+1400
Bryce Love (RB Stanford)+1400
Luke Falk (QB Washington State)+2200
JT Barrett (QB Ohio State)+3300
Jalen Hurts (QB Alabama)+4000
Jake Browning (QB Washington)+4000
Royce Freeman (RB Oregon)+5000
JK Dobbins (RB Ohio State)+5000
Josh Rosen (QB UCLA)+6600
Rashaad Penny (RB San Diego State)+6600
Quinton Flowers (QB South Florida)+6600
Mark Walton (RB Miami)+6600
Trace McSorley (QB Penn State)+7500
Nick Chubb (RB Georgia)+7500

Odds as of October 1 at Bovada

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Archived Articles

Penn State football games have become appointment television thanks to Saquon Barkley. The Nittany Lions running back is the most exciting player in college football. His ability to catch, run and block means the junior can make a major play every time the ball is snapped. 

Barkley is currently tied for seventh in the nation in rushing and is pacing all running backs in receiving yards by a healthy margin. The junior is averaging 253.3 all-purpose yards per game, nearly 25 more than second and over 50 more than third. Barkley is the engine that makes Penn State’s vaunted offense tick. Whether the back is pounding the ball up the gut, breaking big gains as a receiver or making key blocks, there is nothing Barkley can’t do.

All things considered, he deserves the distinction as the current Heisman favorite. He might be the best player in the country regardless of position, he has all the stats to back it up and he plays for an undefeated Power 5 conference team.

Since 2000, only three running backs have won the Heisman – Reggie Bush (2005), Mark Ingram (2009) and Derrick Henry (2015). Those three running backs averaged 2,173.3 yards from scrimmage and 22 touchdowns in their Heisman-winning campaigns. If Barkley keeps up his current pace through the remainder of the regular season, he will accumulate 2,559 yards from scrimmage and 18 touchdowns, numbers that easily put him in Heisman contention.

Of course, Heisman voters love quarterbacks. A QB has won the Heisman 14 of the past 17 times. Barkley is playing exceptionally well but will he get the votes over a player like Baker Mayfield, who is the quarterback of an undefeated premier program and is putting up video game numbers? It’s hard to know.

One thing I do know? Barkley is the most fun you’ll have watching college football this season.

2017 Heisman Trophy Winner
PlayerOdds
Saquon Barkley (RB Penn State)+175
Baker Mayfield (QB Oklahoma)+300
Mason Rudolph (QB Oklahoma State)+700
Lamar Jackson (QB Louisville)+700
Sam Darnold (QB USC)+700
Josh Rosen (QB UCLA)+3300
Jalen Hurts (QB Alabama)+3300
JT Barrett (QB Ohio State)+3300
Luke Falk (QB Washington State)+3300
Bryce Love (RB Stanford)+3300
Jake Browning (QB Washington)+4000
Royce Freeman (RB Oregon)+5000
Justin Herbert (QB Oregon)+5000
Trace McSorley (QB Penn State)+5000
Nick Fitzgerald (QB Mississippi State)+6600

Odds as of September 25 at Bovada

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If you didn’t take notice of the Oregon Ducks entering the college football season, they have forced you to pay attention through their non-conference schedule. Willie Taggart has the team flying in his first season on the sidelines in Oregon, as the team is averaging 56 points and 609 offensive yards per game thus far.

That has put the backfield duo of Justin Herbert and Royce Freeman directly in the spotlight. The Oregon quarterback and running back have both exploded onto the Heisman watch list and sportsbooks are paying attention, with online shop Bovada listing Herbert at +3300 and Freeman at +2500 to win the coveted award.

Herbert was not looked at as the long-term solution in Eugene, as he was recruited in the same class as highly touted Terry Wilson. However, after Wilson flipped to Nebraska, local kid Herbert was tagged as the guy. And it was clear he deserved to be more highly sought after entering the collegiate ranks. 

Through the first three games of this season, Herbert has completed 72 percent of his passes for 897 yards. Though he was seen as more of a dual-threat quarterback when he was recruited to Oregon, he has developed his passing skills and learned to use his running ability as a secondary skill set.

Though Herbert has shocked many by his growth, there was no doubting that Freeman was a stud, entering his senior season second in Oregon history in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. He had a down year in 2016, but that had more to do with the lack of a commitment to the running game from the previous coaching staff.

With Taggart on the sideline, the Ducks have put a renewed focus on the rushing attack and Freeman has flourished. The running back is on pace for 1,840 rushing yards and 36 rushing touchdowns through the first three games. If Freeman managed to keep up that pace, which would be a little too much to expect, he would finish the season with the second-most rushing touchdowns in a single season – that’s not including any bowl games or playoffs.

Of course, the schedule moving forward for Oregon is far more challenging than their non-conference slate. Dates at Stanford, UCLA and Washington are challenging enough but when you factor in home appointments with Cal, Washington State and Utah, then it might be best to temper some expectations.

That being said, Herbert and Freeman have the fine folks of Eugene buzzing and the Heisman committee watching.

2017 Heisman Trophy Winner
PlayerOdds
Baker Mayfield (QB Oklahoma)+275
Mason Rudolph (QB Oklahoma State)+450
Lamar Jackson (QB Louisville)+550
Sam Darnold (QB USC)+550
Saquon Barkley (RB Penn State)+700
Josh Rosen (QB UCLA)+2500
Jalen Hurts (QB Alabama)+2500
Royce Freeman (RB Oregon)+2500
Justin Herbert (QB Oregon)+3300
JK Dobbins (RB Ohio State)+3300
JT Barrett (QB Ohio State)+3300
Nick Fitzgerald (QB Mississippi State)+3300
Jake Browning (QB Washington)+4000
Derrius Guice (RB LSU)+5000
Luke Falk (QB Washington State)+6600
Bryce Love (RB Stanford)+6600
Trace McSorely (QB Penn State)+6600

Odds as of September 20 at Bovada

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Not only did Baker Mayfield plant Oklahoma’s flag at center field of The Shoe, he also planted his own flag in the center of the Heisman race.

The senior quarterback put the Sooners on his back in the second half against Ohio State and carried them to a marquee victory. The first half of that game turned out to be a defensive battle but Mayfield would not be denied in the second stanza. The OU gunslinger completed 16 of his 17 passes for 228 yards and three touchdowns in the second half, leading Oklahoma to a 31-16 victory.

Mayfield is coming off the most efficient season in college football history but he is actually on pace to top that. The Heisman hopeful has completed 83.6 percent of his passes for 715 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions through two games. Stretched out over an entire regular season, that means Mayfield is on pace to accumulate 4,290 passing yards with 36 TDs – that would be without playoffs or bowl games.

You’d be foolish to think that Mayfield can continue through the whole season at such an absurd pace but he has already proven that he can put up ridiculous numbers over the course of an entire schedule.

But to be frank, winning the Heisman isn’t always just about personal stats. The award isn’t given out to players based on video game numbers but rather value. There is no doubt that Mayfield is the heart and soul of a top-five team in the nation right now. Without the diminutive passer leading the charge, OU would likely not be in the national championship conversation.

Most people have the Heisman race down to two players through the first two weeks of college football. Either you side with Mayfield or you’re backing Lamar Jackson of Louisville. There is no real wrong answer right now but considering Jackson is listed at +175 to win the Heisman while Mayfield is +400, it’s clear where the better value is.

There is still a lot of college football left to play, but if the Heisman vote happened today, Mayfield would finally earn the elusive award.

2017 Heisman Trophy Winner
PlayerOdds
Lamar Jackson (QB Louisville)+175
Baker Mayfield (QB Oklahoma)+400
Sam Darnold (QB USC)+600
Saquon Barkley (RB Penn State)+900
Josh Rosen (QB UCLA)+1000
Mason Rudolph (QB Oklahoma State)+1000
Jalen Hurts (QB Alabama)+1800
J.T. Barrett (QB Ohio State)+2500
Derrius Guice (RB LSU)+2500
Jake Browning (QB Washington)+3300
Nick Fitzgerald (QB Mississippi State)+4000
Nick Chubb (RB Georgia)+5000
Trace McSorley (QB Penn State)+5000
Derwin James (S FSU)+5000
Kamryn Pettway (RB Auburn)+5000
Bo Scarbrough (RB Alabama)+6600
Jarrett Stidham (QB Auburn)+6600
Luke Falk (QB Washington State)+6600

Odds as of September 11 at Bovada

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People tend to remember the good more than the bad and come several months from now, people will remember Josh Rosen’s amazing fourth quarter against Texas A&M. Rosen spent the first three quarters of that game getting battered while UCLA found itself down 34 points.

That’s when the Rosen we’ve all been waiting for showed up. Rosen was a man possessed and threw for 292 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions in the fourth quarter. Those 292 passing yards in the fourth quarter was more than Sam Darnold, Jake Browning and Trace McSorley tallied in each of their respective games in Week 1. Rosen did that in 15 minutes.

You could never question Rosen’s capabilities as a passer, but that come-from-behind victory showed that he is as tough as nails and the leader of the Bruins team. And those are attributes that the Heisman voters love. They love seeing those gutsy performances and moments that they can point to and simply say “that’s why I voted for him.”

Rosen delivered that in Week 1.

Oddsmakers were keen on this performance as well, with Rosen going from +2500 to +800 to win the Heisman. That’s a massive jump considering the UCLA signal-caller leapfrogged 11 players.

Now, it’s not like Rosen accomplished this feat against a good – or even OK – passing defense. He didn’t do it when the brightest lights were shining. He even caught a couple of lucky breaks in that fourth quarter. But none of that matters in four months when voters are filling in their ballots. They will remember the comeback.

Now, it’s up to Rosen to prove he’s worthy of this early Heisman hype.

2017 Heisman Trophy Winner
PlayerOdds
Lamar Jackson (QB Louisville)+400
Sam Darnold (QB USC)+600
Baker Mayfield (QB Oklahoma)+700
Josh Rosen (QB UCLA)+800
Saquon Barkley (RB Penn State)+900
Jalen Hurts (QB Alabama)+900
Mason Rudolph (QB Oklahoma State)+900
J.T. Barrett (QB Ohio State)+1400
Derrius Guice (RB LSU)+1600
Bo Scarbrough (RB Alabama)+2000
Jake Browning (QB Washington)+2000
Nick Chubb (RB Georgia)+2500
Trace McSorley (QB Penn State)+2500
Jarrett Stidham (QB Auburn)+3300
Derwin James (S FSU)+4000
Nick Fitzgerald (QB Mississippi State)+4000
Kamryn Pettway (RB Auburn)+4000
Luke Falk (QB Washington State)+5000

Odds as of September 5 at Bovada

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