There is nothing quite like a career performance on the biggest stage possible to cement someone as a clear Heisman favorite. And that seems to be the case with Joe Burrow, quarterback of LSU, who helped engineer a 46-41 upset of Alabama that has cleared the path for the Bayou Bengals to win the national championship.
Of course, there is more business to attend to. They’ll have to play Texas A&M in the season finale, a rematch of last season’s game that went into SEVEN overtimes. Then there is an SEC title game, and then, of course, the four-team playoff.
But you can’t deny Burrow the top spot right now. Here are the Heisman Trophy odds, as they are currently posted at BetAnySports:
Joe Burrow, QB, LSU -925
Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma +1400
Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State +1400
Tua Tagovailoa,QB, Alabama +2000
J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State +10000
Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama +10000
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin +10000
Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon +10000
There is no doubt that Burrow has been the transformational figure for LSU. And it’s also one of the great stories of the college football season – how coach Ed Orgeron, in a move to inject some real energy into the situation, brought former New Orleans Saints assistant Joe Brady in to design an offense for Burrow. He busted this thing wide-open, and he’s now completing close to 79% of his passes.
Burrow has thrown for 3198 yards and been intercepted only four times. After his success against Alabama (31-for-39, 373 yards and 3 TD’s), his numbers in four games against top ten teams are tremendous – 79.9% completions, 1478 yards and an 11-to-2 TD-INT ratio.
Tua (+2000 at BetAnySports) may be the better long-term pro prospect, because even though he can make some ill-advised throws, he really knows how to get the ball down the field. No one is going to accuse him of being one of those “dink-and-dunk” passers. Indeed, he’s got a huge per-attempt average of eleven yards, with 71% completions and 31 TD’s with only four INT’s. He threw for 418 yards against LSU.
Wouldn’t it be ironic, though, if somehow the guy he displaced at Alabama was able to beat him out in the voting? Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts (+1400) has done just about everything Lincoln Riley has expected him to do, and more. Hurts has hit 73% of his passes with 24 touchdowns. His yards per attempt is an astronomical 13.3, although of course we realize that this can at least partially be attributed to his receivers’ ability to run with the ball after they catch it. Still, it’s impressive.
And while Tua, for instance, has just 25 net rushing yards on the season, Hurts is the true dual-threat, with 869 yards on the ground and 15 rushing touchdowns. While Oklahoma had admittedly not played the most back-breaking schedule, he had 235 yards passing and 131 rushing against Texas in the Red River Rivalry game. I’m not sure it doesn’t hurt him with voters that he might just be in a “plug and play” system that by now might make anyone a Heisman candidate, or whether they would have an aversion to voting for him after the Sooners have won it the last two years with Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. And not for nothing, but he could have come up bigger late vs. Iowa State, but very nearly allowed the Cyclones to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Ohio State’s Justin Fields (+1400 at BetAnySports) is the most interesting proposition out of the four guys who have a chance here. The University of Georgia transfer has been relatively mistake-free, with only one interception to go with 27 TD passes. He’s chipped in with 347 rushing yards as well. Fields has averaged just 8.8 yards per attempt, which pales in comparison with the other top candidates. Not once has he had more than 234 passing yards or 72 rushing yards in a game.
His candidacy at this juncture would seem completely tied to the fate of the Buckeyes, who are quite possibly going to be Big Ten champs and headed for the playoff. Such a thing is understandable, and this is the way the Heisman works to some extent.
And so something worth mentioning is the precipitous drop of Ohio State defensive end Chase Young, who is being investigated for a loan he took to buy a plane ticket for his girlfriend to go to the last Rose Bowl. As of this writing, he could face up to a four-game suspension, which would go right through the conference championship game. And while he is no longer a factor in the Heisman race, his absence could impact Ohio State’s performance against a team like, say, Michigan or (we suspect) Minnesota, and if they lose, Fields loses as well.
Take note that the Heisman ballots are sent on December 2, and collected no later than December 9. So these conference title games, as well as the selection of four teams for the playoff, will have been determined by then.
This begs some obvious questions, is you are considering “beating Burrow” with a longshot:
— How much does it hurt Tua if his team isn’t in the SEC title game? Or, in a strange way, could it help him if others falter?
— What if LSU would lose to Georgia for the SEC title? How would that affect Burrow’s candidacy?
— If Hurts does not get into the playoff with Oklahoma, does that – pardon the pun – hurt him?
If you want to take a shot at handicapping those situations, perhaps you’ll come up with an alternative that is more attractive than laying -925.
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