One year ago, Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler was the Heisman favorite. According to Sports Odds History, he had +550 odds to start the season.
And you could understand why. Rattler showed promise in 2020, and his coach Lincoln Riley ran a prolific offense that produced two previous Heisman winners.
Well, Rattler didn’t finish the season as the starter, much less win the Heisman. It was like Jason Garrett was secretly coaching him as well as Daniel Jones last season.
Rattler’s fate as preseason Heisman favorite is not unique.
According to work by Edward Egros, only one preseason Heisman favorite since 2009 has won the award. In 2014, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota won the award in bringing the Ducks to the first college football playoff.
This implies the take home message: do not bet the preseason Heisman favorite.
This past data will not be a perfect predictor. Ohio State’s CJ Stroud could win this season (+200 as the favorite on FanDuel). But history is not on his side.
This suggests value in looking for a dark horse candidate at this point in the season. In generating this list, it seems like the markets are overlooking players who had some outrageous statistics last season. Let’s look at three. (The data below is gathered from Sports Reference).
Will Anderson, DE, Alabama (30 to 1) – A defensive player hasn’t won the Heisman since Michigan’s Charles Woodson in 1997. However, Michigan DE Aidan Hutchinson was second in the Heisman voting behind Alabama QB Bryce Young last season.
Anderson was essentially unblockable last season, as he registered 17.5 sacks and a mind boggling 31.0 tackles for loss. For comparison, Hutchinson had 14 sacks and 16.5 tackles in his runner up campaign.
Anderson has the talent and will most likely put up the numbers. Now he needs the narrative to win the Heisman.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State (50 to 1) – Let’s look at the numbers for Ohio State’s top three receivers last season:
- Chris Olave: 936 yards, 14.4 yards per reception
- Garrett Wilson: 1058 yards, 15.1 yards per reception
- Jaxon Smith-Njigba: 1606 yards, 16.9 yards per reception
The first two got picked in the first round of the NFL draft, and the third returns for another year in Columbus.
The problem for Smith-Njigba: two of his Ohio State offensive teammates have better Heisman odds. QB CJ Stroud is the favorite, and RB TreVeyon Henderson is at 14 to 1.
While these three teammates could split votes, Smith-Njigba’s talent is unmistakable and might make it hard not to vote for him.
Stetson Bennett IV, QB, Georgia (100 to 1) – Let’s look at the factors in favor of Bennett heading into 2022:
- His pass offense led the nation in my adjusted yards per pass attempt last season.
- He led his team to a national title last year.
- Georgia is a consensus top three team this season.
These credentials would make a quarterback over six feet in height the Heisman favorite. Instead, the 5’11” Bennett has long odds that make no sense. It only helps that his top three receivers from last season are back.
The top 5 sports betting podcast episodes
This article was sent to The Power Rank’s email newsletter on August 18, 2022. This newsletter is a free service that strives to be:
The primary focus of the newsletter is NFL and college football based on my predictive analytics.
If you sign up for this free newsletter, I’ll send you my top 5 sports betting podcast episodes, the ultimate education for your ears.
To get this free service delivered straight into your inbox, enter your best email address and click on “Sign up now!”