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Heisman Odds: Can Anyone Top Saquon Barkley?

By Matthew Reese in Sports
| October 25, 2017 12:00 am PDT

There’s a new clear-cut favorite at the top of the 2017 Heisman Trophy odds.

Penn State running back Saquon Barkley separated himself from the rest of the contenders this past weekend, collecting 161 all-purpose yards on 18 touches and scoring 3 touchdowns in the Nittany Lions’ 42-13 rout of the visiting Michigan Wolverines Saturday in Happy Valley.

Barkley, who broke free for a 69-yard touchdown run in the opening minute of the game and later added a 42-yard touchdown reception to put the game away in the fourth quarter, now has 11 touchdowns and a 5.8 yard-per-carry average in his first 7 games. His 1,478 all-purpose yards are the most in the NCAA through 7 games.

Going into Saturday’s showdown with the Wolverines, Barkley was tied atop Bovada’s Heisman Trophy odds with Stanford running back Bryce Love, each paying +140 odds to be named college football’s most outstanding player in 2017. Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield was a distant third, paying +550, while fellow quarterbacks Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma State) and J.T. Barrett (Ohio State) rounded out the top 5 at +900 each.

But a dominant performance against a ranked opponent in front of a national TV audience tends to get people’s attention. That’s reflected in Barkley’s Heisman odds, which have now soared to -275 at Bovada.

Updated 2017 Heisman Trophy Odds At Bovada

  • Saquon Barkley (RB Penn State): -275
  • Bryce Love (RB Stanford): +300
  • Baker Mayfield (QB Oklahoma): +1200
  • T. Barrett (QB Ohio State): +1400
  • Jalen Hurts (QB Alabama): +2000
  • Josh Adams (RB Notre Dame): +2000
  • Mason Rudolph (QB Oklahoma State): +3300
  • Lamar Jackson (QB Louisville): +3300
  • Will Grier (QB West Virginia): +3300

Who’s The Best 2017 Heisman Trophy Bet?

As much as the Heisman Trophy is for the best player in college football that season, how a player’s team fares is also critical to winning the award.

When Louisville’s Lamar Jackson claimed the Heisman last year, it marked just the 11th time that the trophy went to a player from a team that had 3 regular-season losses. The Heisman has gone to a member of a team with a losing record just once (Notre Dame’s Paul Hornung in 1956), while it’s gone to a player from an undefeated team 26 times and to a player from a 1-loss team 26 more.

Barkley may appear to have a bit of room for error in this department since Penn State carries a 7-0 record into this weekend’s clash with Ohio State. But if the Buckeyes beat the Nittany Lions Saturday in Columbus (Ohio State is a 7-point favorite to do just that) and match Penn State at 7-1, Barkley’s odds will likely tumble – especially if the tough Buckeyes defense keeps him in check.

Let’s go through each of the top Heisman contenders to analyze the potential of their chances increasing or decreasing down the stretch of the season.

Football1. Saquon Barkley

Before we get into the analysis of Barkley’s Heisman potential, I’ve got to make a very important point: If you want to bet on Barkley (or anyone else to win the Heisman, for that matter), it absolutely matters which betting site you use.

The odds of Barkley winning the Heisman varied greatly at the several sportsbooks I researched when writing this article. Here are the odds I found on Wednesday afternoon:

  • Bovada: -275
  • SportsBetting.ag: -350
  • GTbets: -300
  • BetOnline: -130
  • 5Dimes: +100

We always want to get the best odds, of course, so let’s use the +100 odds at 5Dimes. Even money on this prop suggests that Barkley’s got a 50% chance of claiming the award, so there’s a lot of value on the Penn State star if he can just maintain his current production.

That’s hardly a guarantee, however. Ohio State boasts the 14th-best run defense in the country and also ranks 10th in points against and 16th in total yards allowed, meaning that Barkley could be in for a tough day on Saturday. The Nittany Lions also have to visit Michigan State the following weekend, where the Spartans’ defense is even stingier (7th against the run, 4th in yards, 14th in points allowed).

Road games against elite defenses are a great way for Heisman darkhorses to make a statement, but they’re not quite ideal for a favorite whose chances can only go down. That’s what makes me hesitant to bet Barkley right now, and probably why 5Dimes is listing him at even odds while other sportsbooks make him a heavy favorite.

Football2. Bryce Love

Love is probably underappreciated because he plays on the west coast, where most of his games end after much of the country goes to bed. It might be why Stanford has produced 4 second-place Heisman finishers in the last 8 years, including Andrew Luck in both 2010 and 2011.

After rushing for more than 10 yards per carry and nearly 200 yards per game through Stanford’s first 7 contests, Love definitely has the credentials to be a top Heisman contender. He also has a few notable games left on his schedule to make an impression with voters, with the Cardinal slated to visit Washington State next weekend, host Washington Nov. 11 and then clash with Notre Dame in a regular-season finale that could have national playoff implications.

Knocks against Love’s chances are the fact that Stanford lost 2 of its first 3 games (including a conference loss to USC in Week 2) and probably needs to win out to get him a possible consideration for the award, and that he’s currently nursing an ankle injury suffered 2 weeks ago against Oregon. Love is considered day-to-day for Saturday’s game at Oregon State, but with the Cardinal as a 20.5-point favorite in that contest, coach David Shaw will likely limit his usage.

Football3. Baker Mayfield

Though the leading contenders ahead of him have changed, Mayfield’s status on the Heisman Trophy odds remains relatively the same as it was before the season. Oklahoma’s veteran quarterback entered the year ranked third on Bovada’s odds (+800), and he is still third now (+1200).

It’s not difficult to make a Heisman case for the Sooners signal-caller. Mayfield’s offense has racked up the second-most passing yards and total yards in the nation, even if those statistics are inflated a bit by playing in the score-happy Big 12. He’ll get a chance to pad those numbers dramatically Saturday as the Sooners host Texas Tech, a team they put up 66 points against in their meeting last year (Oklahoma is 20-point chalk this year).

Mayfield is a household name, having earned Heisman consideration last year, and he’s got an impressive victory on his resume already (at Ohio State in Week 2). If he can lead the Sooners to a victory next week at Oklahoma State, and put up big numbers in the process, look for Mayfield’s Heisman odds to soar. With 5Dimes currently offering +1350 and TopBet and Bovada both featuring +1200 on Mayfield, that might be the best value on the board.

Football4. J.T. Barrett

Barrett has been a bit of a forgotten man in the Heisman talk ever since Ohio State’s 31-16 loss at home to Oklahoma in Week 2. The Buckeyes quarterback took a lot of the blame for that loss, going 19-for-35 for just 183 yards, 0 touchdowns and 1 interception, the type of performance that typically kills a player’s Heisman chances.

Since then, however, Barrett’s been phenomenal. He’s thrown 18 touchdowns and zero interceptions over his past 5 games and completed more than 70% of his passes in 3 of those outings. Barrett has also added 370 rushing yards (5.2 average) and 5 touchdowns on the ground during that span. Even if it came against some pedestrian defenses in Army, UNLV, Rutgers, Maryland and Nebraska, those statistics are pretty impressive.

Barrett’s Heisman chances boil down to Saturday’s home game against Penn State. Not only does he have the chance to hand the Nittany Lions their first loss, he also has the chance to overshadow Heisman favorite Barkley with a strong performance. Often times, the result of a head-to-head meeting between 2 Heisman candidates goes a long way towards determining the recipient of the award.

There will still be tough games down the stretch against Michigan State and Michigan, but more chances to prove yourself against strong defenses are exactly what you want when betting on a Heisman darkhorse in this price range. If you’ve been considering betting on Barrett, right now looks like the perfect time, with 5Dimes offering the best value at +1350.

Can Anyone Top Saquon Barkley For The Heisman?

Absolutely. It’s way too early to declare the Heisman Trophy race over, considering how many important conference games are still on the schedule for the top candidates.

Barkley’s in the driver’s seat right now, and he could all but lock up the trophy with a strong performance and a Nittany Lions’ upset win Saturday in Columbus. However, the odds are against that happening, with Ohio State favored by a touchdown and fielding 1 of the top run defenses in the nation.

Right now, I believe Mayfield is the best value on the Heisman Trophy odds.

Voters love quarterbacks, evidenced by the fact that the award has gone to a pivot in 14 of the last 17 years. He’s also got an edge on Barrett because of Oklahoma’s upset win over Ohio State earlier this year, and the Sooners have the potential to put up some massive offensive numbers in their final few games against Big 12 competition.

If Ohio State can bottle up Barkley on Saturday and Barrett doesn’t go off for huge numbers, don’t be surprised to see Mayfield shoot up the Heisman Trophy odds in the next couple of weeks. And if he delivers a road victory against Oklahoma State next weekend, any Mayfield futures you place now at +1350 odds will look really, really good.



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