It's early February, so naturally it's time to start looking at odds for next season's Heisman Trophy, right? (Ahem...RIGHT?!?)
The correct answer is "Why, ABSOLUTELY, Sean!!"
Actually, while there's never a bad time to analyze odds on the Heisman (or on anything, really), for the better part of the last five or six years, it's been completely useless to actually hitch your wagon to a candidate and back them with real American currency. Since 2009, the eventual Heisman winner wasn't even on the fringe of the big board before the season.
2009, Mark Ingram. 2010, Cam Newton. 2012, Johnny Manziel. 2013, Jameis Winston. All off the board at the beginning of the year. Last season was actually the first time in a long time where a favorite or near favorite went wire to wire when Marcus Mariota did it.
So let's take a look at this year's board with some analysis as we make our way down the board.
Ezekiel Elliott (RB Ohio State) 6/1 Recency bias gets Elliott, who is a magnificent player but a terrible value here, especially considering his starting QB (whoever it may be) will be a candidate. They will get a ton of Elliott money from fans who basically watched the College Football Playoff and that's it.
Dak Prescott (QB Mississippi State) 7/1 Quarterbacks have won eight of the last nine Heismans, so the top quarterback on the board will always draw some attention. Here's the thing, though -- you generally need to be on a winning team. Mississippi State has to navigate the SEC West again, and they have to do so with the fewest returning starters in the conference (7 total). Not a great recipe for a Heisman campaign for Prescott.
Leonard Fournette (RB LSU) 7/1 The one time a non-QB won it since 2006 was Mark Ingram in 2009, so an SEC running back is not out of the question, and Fournette is a monster who will also play in the return game. Still, I'm not in love with 7/1 odds.
Trevone Boykin (QB TCU) 15/2 Of the "less than 10/1 odds" crowd, I like Boykin the best. TCU returns a strong team that should start the season in the top five, and Boykin closes the season with games in Norman and home against Baylor. Good showcase closing arguments.
Cody Kessler (QB USC) 12/1 USC quarterback always finds their way onto the board. WARNING: Steve Sarkisian is involved in this bet should you choose to place it.
Nick Chubb (RB Georgia) 12/1 Paul Perkins (RB UCLA) 12/1 Derrick Henry (RB Alabama) 14/1 Samaje Perine (RB Oklahoma) 14/1 Bunch of running backs who should all have good years. If I'm backing one of these four, it's probably Perine, who broke the single game rushing record last season one week after Melvin Gordon broke it for Wisconsin.
Cardale Jones (QB Ohio State) 14/1 J.T. Barrett (QB Ohio State) 16/1 Braxton Miller (QB Ohio State) 18/1 This is hilarious. Basically, betting on which one will start for the Buckeyes. that said, if you get it right, you've got a phenomenal value on the quarterback for the defending national champion. PHENOMENAL VALUE. (Also, taking Miller, presumably you get him at whatever school he decides to go to. So would Braxton Miller at, say, Florida State for one season at 18/1 be great value? I say yes.)
Connor Cook (QB Michigan State) 20/1 If Connor Cook wins the Heisman, then it was truly a terrible year for college football, just putting that out there.
Josh Robinson (RB Mississippi State) 22/1 See: Prescott, Dak
Corey Clement (RB Wisconsin) 25/1 Heisman odds Mad Libs #1: Always include Wisconsin's starting tailback SOMEWHERE.
D.J. Foster (RB Arizona State) 25/1 Royce Freeman (RB Oregon) 25/1 Brad Kaaya (QB Miami) 33/1 Dalvin Cook (RB Florida State) 33/1 Deshaun Watson (QB Clemson) 33/1 James Connor (RB Pittsburgh) 33/1 Justin Thomas (QB Georgia Tech) 33/1 Nick Wilson (RB Arizona) 33/1 Seth Russell (QB Baylor) 33/1 Heisman odds Mad Libs #2: Always include Baylor's starting quarterback SOMEWHERE.
Mason Rudolph (QB Oklahoma State) 40/1 Jacoby Brissett (QB North Carolina State) 50/1 Jalen Hurd (RB Tennessee) 50/1 Jared Goff (QB California) 50/1 Marquise Williams (QB North Carolina) 50/1 Laquon Treadwell (WR Mississippi) 66/1 Scooby Wright (LB Arizona) 66/1 Heisman odds Mad Libs #3: Always include someone named "Scooby" SOMEWHERE.
POSSIBLE 2015 OFF THE BOARD SLEEPER: Malik Zaire, QB Notre Dame. Zaire started and played well in a bowl game win over LSU back in December, and he should be the starter heading into the season, especially amidst rumors that Everett Golson, the former starter, is pondering a transfer. The Irish also return 18 starters next season and should be getting back a few of the players who were suspended for academic reasons last season. Zaire will probably be on the board when the season starts, somewhere around 40/1 or so. I think he could be good value. Notre Dame has their best team since the 2012 that went to the championship game.
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