The 2018 college football season is still a good eight months away but it's never too early to speculate over who might win next year's Heisman Trophy. Thanks to the folks over at Bovada, we have an initial list of odds.
There aren't many surprises at the very top. Stanford running back Bryce Love, the odds leader at 7/1, was last year's runner-up to Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield. Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor has the next-highest odds at 8/1 because he checks off a lot of boxes. He's a production machine (1,977 yards, 13 touchdowns) in a run-heavy offense on a team coming off a banner year with playoff aspirations next season.
Even Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate makes sense with 9/1 odds seeing as he was the most exciting player in the country last October.
But Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa at 10/1 warranted a double take; shoot, a triple take at that. Not only is Tagovailoa listed as a real Heisman candidate, he's ranked highest among any SEC player.
Vegas odds always require two disclaimers. The first is that they're bound to change. The second is oddsmakers create numbers with the intent of getting the maximum amount of bets.
But the fact that Tagovailoa is listed at all, let alone this high, also speaks to the Catch-22 of Alabama's quarterback situation. Without question, the upcoming competition between Tagovailoa and Hurts will be among the most discussed offseason storylines. It will be the most closely watched position battle of its kind since J.T. Barrett, Cardale Jones and (for awhile) Braxton Miller were in the running to be Ohio State's starting quarterback following the 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship win.
On one hand, Hurts was 25-2 as a two-year starter heading into the national championship against Georgia. He was the SEC Offensive Player of the year and Freshman of the Year in 2016, and he's already No. 2 all-time in program history for touchdowns responsible for by a quarterback.
But ... he was also benched in the national title game in favor of Tagovailoa, who played well given the circumstance and showed off a downfield passing attack that Hurts simply wasn't able to show. Tagovailoa may have only played one meaningful half of football for Alabama but it's impossible to overstate just how important that half was. He threw the walk-off touchdown in overtime, so of course he's earned the chance to compete for the starting job.
However, this is why Tagovailoa and Hurts came to Alabama. It's why any blue-chip recruit goes to Alabama with the expectation of competing against other former blue-chip players. How will it all shake out? Who knows, but it's interesting, to say the least, that oddsmakers have Tagovailoa listed and Hurts absent. (For the record, Hurts was listed at 12/1 odds to win the Heisman this time last year.)
Now, on to the rest of the odds ...
RB, Ohio State
QB, West Virginia
QB, Penn State
RB, Florida State
QB, NC State
QB, Notre Dame
QB, Mississippi State
WR, West Virginia
|Nick Bosa||DL, Ohio State||75/1|
Trace McSorley: 18/1 feels surprisingly low for a guy who just went 12-of-12 for 193 yards and two touchdowns on third downs alone in his last game of the season. Now that Saquon Barkley is off to the NFL, McSorley is the undisputed Heisman favorite for Penn State. Of course, wondering how he performs without Barkley, DaeSean Hamilton and Mike Gesicki around him is a warranted hesitation.
Rodney Anderson: Let's make sure we're not writing off Oklahoma in any conversation simply because Mayfield is gone. Anderson was relentless in the second half of last season, with 1,333 total yards and 16 touchdowns in his final eight games. It's taken a few years due to injury problems for Anderson to reach his full potential, but he played an important role in the No. 1 offense in the country last year. At 25/1, this is a good time to get on the Anderson wagon before too many others do. Also of note: no Sooners quarterback Kyler Murray on the odds list ... yet.
D'Andre Swift: The freshman is at an appealing 35/1 after quietly finishing third in Georgia's stacked backfield with 618 yards and three touchdowns. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel were the "two-headed monster," but as a result it felt like Swift got wrongly overlooked for being an impact player. But with Chubb and Michel gone, Swift becomes the leader in that backfield next to Fromm.