Since its inception in 1935, the Heisman Trophy has been handed out in college football every year, as not even World War II could stop it. Will there be a Heisman winner this year? That's very much in doubt with the possibility of a 2020 college football season in jeopardy due to the coronavirus pandemic. If there is a season, the two clear-cut betting favorites to win the Heisman are quarterbacks (as usual): Ohio State's Justin Fields at +350 on the moneyline odds at William Hill sportsbook and Clemson's Trevor Lawrence at +400. Those numbers haven't moved since there were no (or very few) spring practices.
There has been speculation that Fields and Lawrence might have taken their last collegiate snaps if the season has to be pushed to next spring. Since both are expected to be very high draft picks, quite possibly No. 1 (Lawrence) and No. 2 (Fields), they could opt to sit out next spring ahead of the start of the 2021 NFL Draft (April 29) rather than risk getting injured and costing themselves potentially millions of dollars.
The NFL already has said it has no plans to push back the draft even if the college football season is moved to the spring. NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah has said that some 40-50 players could sit out a spring season and that agents are already pushing for that.
Fields finished third in the 2019 Heisman voting behind LSU's Joe Burrow and Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts, who are both now in the NFL. Should Fields win it, he would become the record eight winner from Ohio State (well, technically seventh since Archie Griffith won it twice). Notre Dame and Oklahoma also have had seven winners. Ohio State is in a bit of a Heisman slump as its last winner was QB Troy Smith in 2006.
What's working against Fields is that the preseason betting favorites rarely win the Heisman. The last to do so was Southern Cal quarterback Matt Leinart in 2004 after finishing sixth the year before. Burrow was around a +5000 long shot at this point a year ago.
As good as current Houston Texans star QB Deshaun Watson was in his time at Clemson, he never won the Heisman and no Tiger has. Lawrence finished seventh in the 2019 voting despite a bit of a slow start last season. NFL scouts love the guy. Lawrence has lost top receiver Justyn Ross already to a season-ending medical issue.
What Lawrence has working against him is the fact he's not a transfer. The last three Heisman winners in Burrow, Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield all were transfers. Fields began his career at Georgia.
Two other transfer QBs are among Top 6 betting favorites this year in Georgia's Jamie Newman (formerly of Wake Forest) at +1000 and Miami's D'Eriq King (formerly of Houston) at +2000. Newman isn't even a lock to win the UGA starting job as he will battle USC transfer JT Daniels.
Oklahoma's Spencer Rattler (+1200), who has attempted 11 career collegiate passes, and Texas' Sam Ehlinger (+1800) round out the favorites.
The non-quarterbacks with the shortest odds are Clemson running back Travis Etienne and Oklahoma State tailback Chuba Hubbard each at +2200. Hubbard is from Canada and no Canadian has won the Heisman. The last non-QB to win it was Alabama running back Derrick Henry in 2015.
|Heisman Trophy betting favorites|
|Ohio State's Justin Fields +350|
|Clemson's Trevor Lawrence +400|
|Georgia's Jamie Newman +1000|
|Oklahoma's Spencer Rattler +1200|
|Texas' Sam Ehlinger +1800|
|Miami's D'Eriq King +2000|
|Alabama's Mac Jones +2200|
|Clemson's Travis Etienne +2200|
|Oklahoma State's Chuba Hubbard +2200|
|LSU's Myles Brennan +2800|
|Notre Dame's Ian Book +2800|
|*-odds from William Hill sportsbook|
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