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Heisman Futures: Tagovailoa becoming a runaway train early

Odds to win the 2018 Heisman Trophy

With three weeks in the books for the college football schedule, the Heisman Trophy race is becoming more and more clear. Prior to the season, it looked like we might have a running back win the coveted trophy for the first time since 2015, but now heading into Week 4 it’s hard to see a way that a quarterback doesn’t win once again. Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa has the top odds at +150.

Bovada has Tagovailoa at +150 followed by Will Grier at +650, Dwayne Haskins at +700, and Jonathan Taylor and Kyler Murray both at +1000 to round out the top five.

Hard to catch Tagovailoa

Alabama has been bludgeoning teams through the first three weeks of the season, scoring more points than any other school on the way to averaging 56.7 points per game. Much of this success can be credited to sophomore QB Tua Tagovailoa (+150). The Hawaii native is only playing the first half or slightly more of the game through the first three weeks as it’s typically a blowout by that point and he gets sat for the second half.

Tagovailoa has thrown for 646 yards, which is just 45th-most in the nation. However, he averages 12.9 yards per attempt, the fourth-highest mark among QBs who have made more than 10 attempts, and he has tossed eight touchdowns with no interceptions. The sophomore has also rushed the ball 14 times for a total of 93 yards and a rushing touchdown.

Tagovailoa will have a tough test in Week 4 taking on No. 22 Texas A&M, which has allowed just 15 points per game this season, good for 21st in the nation. If the 20-year-old can continue to roll against upcoming ranked opponents, there’s no reason he won’t be Alabama’s first QB to win the Heisman.

Ohio State QB putting pressure on Tagovailoa

Buckeyes sophomore QB Dwayne Haskins (+700) is coming off his first victory over a ranked opponent in Week 3 when he threw for 344 yards and two touchdowns in a 40-28 win vs then-No. 15 TCU. As mentioned above, Alabama has the No. 1 offense in the early going of the season, but Ohio State sits right behind in second place, scoring just one fewer point and averaging 56.3 points per game.

The big difference between Haskins and Tagovailoa is that the Ohio State signal-caller is playing the majority of the games thus far, including being under center for the entire game vs TCU in Week 3. The sophomore has 11 touchdowns on the season, which is tied for fifth-most in the nation. He has also thrown for 890 yards, 13th-most in the NCAA, and has completed 72.5 percent of his attempts.

Ohio State has a much easier path than Alabama for the remainder of the season. The Buckeyes have three upcoming games against now-ranked opponents, with only one ranking in the top 10 (Penn State). Meanwhile, the Crimson Tide have four upcoming games vs now-ranked opponents, with two of them ranking in the top 10 right now (Auburn, LSU). If Tua stumbles at all against these tough foes, Haskins could quickly become the favorite to win the Heisman.

Jonathan Taylor still hanging around but is a risky bet

Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor (+1000) has the best odds of any halfback to win the Heisman Trophy. From preseason into Week 4, the New Jersey native has been in the top five for best odds to win the coveted award, but bettors should avoid him. The sophomore ran wild in the first two weeks for a total of 398 yards and five touchdowns against lesser opponents in Western Kentucky and New Mexico. However, Taylor had his worst performance this season in Week 3, rushing for 117 yards with no touchdowns in a 24-21 loss to BYU.

Taylor was already up against the wall, considering that running backs have only won the Heisman Trophy three times since 2000. Now, coming off a loss, he is really backed into a corner, while the above quarterbacks continue to impress. A bet on Taylor is essentially throwing your money away.

Here's a look at the odds for the Heisman Trophy heading into Week 4:

2018 Heisman Trophy Winner Odds
Tua Tagovailoa (QB Alabama)+150
Will Grier (QB West Virginia)+650
Dwayne Haskins (QB Ohio State)+700
Jonathan Taylor (RB Wisconsin)+1000
Kyler Murray (QB Oklahoma)+1000
Trace McSorley (QB Penn State)+1600
Bryce Love (RB Stanford)+2000
J.K. Dobbins (RB Ohio State)+2000
McKenzie Milton (QB UCF)+2500
D’Andre Swift (RB Georgia)+2500
Justin Herbert (QB Oregon)+3300
Drew Lock (QB Missouri)+3300
Shea Patterson (QB Michigan)+3300
Nick Fitzgerald (QB Mississippi State)+3300
Brandon Wimbush (QB Notre Dame)+4000
Trevor Lawrence (QB Clemson)+4000
Kelly Bryant (QB Clemson)+5000
Khalil Tate (QB Arizona)+5000
Jarrett Stidham (QB Auburn)+6600
David Sills (WR West Virginia)+6600
Ed Oliver (DL Houston)+6600
AJ Dillon (RB Boston College)+6600
Jake Browning (QB Washington)+8000
Travis Etienne (RB Clemson)+8000
Jake Fromm (QB Georgia)+10000
Ryan Finley (QB NC State)+20000

Odds as of September 18 at Bovada

Archived Articles

As we head into Week 3 of the college football schedule, it is the quarterbacks who have been impressing and hold the best odds to win the Heisman Trophy. Besting the signal-callers thus far is Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa at +333. Also, despite a dominant Week 2, Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor fell from +320 odds to +900 heading into Week 3 but has the best odds of any halfback.

Bovada has Tagovailoa at +333 followed by Will Grier at +450, Dwayne Haskins at +650, Taylor at +900 and Trace McSorley at +950 to round out the top five.

Tagovailoa has been Given the Reins

Heading into the 2018 season there was a quarterback controversy in Alabama involving sophomore Tua Tagovailoa and last year’s starter, Jalen Hurts. However, after back-to-back impressive starts, Tagovailoa has been named the lead quarterback for the remainder of the season by head coach Nick Saban.

The Hawaii native is coming off a week in which he set a new career high with four touchdowns and on the season he has six TDs with no interceptions and 455 yards. It would be historic for Alabama if the sophomore can carry this momentum through the year to a Heisman Trophy. The Crimson Tide have never had a quarterback win the award.

Haskins providing more value than Grier with similar numbers

Trailing Tagovailoa in odds to win the Heisman Trophy is West Virginia QB Will Grier (+450) and Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins (+650). Grier has kicked off the 2018 season on a torrid pace, throwing for 761 yards (fifth-most in the nation), nine touchdowns and just one interception. The Mountaineers have steamrolled their first two opponents, topping Tennessee 40-14 and Youngstown State 52-17. West Virginia has a fairly favorable schedule through much of the season that should help Grier pad his stats. However, things will amp up in the Mountaineers’ final three tests of the season, when they host TCU and Oklahoma and have a road stop at Oklahoma State. Grier’s Heisman hopes may be up for grabs in those contests.

Haskins, on the other hand, doesn’t have the passing yards that Grier has – just 546 through the first two games. But, they match with nine touchdowns and one interception. The one area where Haskins has the edge over Grier is completion percentage. The Ohio State signal-caller has completed 79.2 percent of his passes, including 87 percent in his Week 2 match vs Rutgers. I like Haskins’ value more than Grier’s because Ohio State has a better chance of making it to the College Football Playoff and that definitely plays a role in choosing the Heisman Trophy winner.

No Love for Taylor

I was left scratching my head when I saw the latest odds for the Heisman Trophy winner and where Jonathan Taylor had fallen to after Week 2. The Wisconsin running back entered the second week of the season with the second-best odds to capture the coveted trophy at +320, trailing just Tagovailoa, following the opening week in which he rushed for 145 yards and two touchdowns. Taylor outdid himself last week against New Mexico, rushing for 253 yards and three touchdowns, yet he fell from second-best odds to fourth-best odds at +900. The New Jersey native may need a Wisconsin berth in the College Football Playoff to get his rightful due, but that is a tough task as the Badgers will likely have to get through a stout Ohio State club to get there.

Here's a look at the odds for the Heisman Trophy heading into Week 3:

2018 Heisman Trophy Winner Odds
Tua Tagovailoa (QB Alabama)+333
Will Grier (QB West Virginia)+450
Dwayne Haskins (QB Ohio State)+650
Jonathan Taylor (RB Wisconsin)+900
Trace McSorley (QB Penn State)+950
McKenzie Milton (QB UCF)+1200
Kyler Murray (QB Oklahoma)+1200
Bryce Love (RB Stanford)+1600
D'Andre Swift (RB Georgia)+2200
Justin Herbert (QB Oregon)+2500
Jarrett Stidham (QB Auburn)+4000
Brandon Wimbush (QB Notre Dame)+4000
Drew Lock (QB Missouri)+4000
Trevor Lawrence (QB Clemson)+4000
Kelly Bryant (QB Clemson)+4000
Khalil Tate (QB Arizona)+5000
Jake Fromm (QB Georgia)+5000
Damien Harris (RB Alabama)+5000
J.K. Dobbins (RB Ohio State)+5000
Jake Browning (QB Washington)+5000
Shea Patterson (QB Michigan)+5000
David Sills (WR West Virginia)+5000
Deondre Francois (QB Florida State)+6600
Ed Oliver (DL Houston)+8000
Nick Fitzgerald (QB Mississippi State)+8000
Sam Ehlinger (QB Texas)+8000
Cam Akers (RB Florida State)+10000
Nick Bosa (DL Ohio State)+10000
Jalen Hurts (QB Alabama)+10000
Kenny Hill (QB TCU)+10000
Travis Etienne (RB Clemson)+12500
Ryan Finley (QB NC State)+15000

Odds as of September 11 at Bovada

Archived Articles

The college football season is in full swing now with one week already in the books and as usual it is the quarterbacks who are dominating the top odds to win the 2018 Heisman Trophy. Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa tops all players at +300, but Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor is nipping at his heels at +320.

MyBookie has Tagovailoa at +300 followed by Taylor at +320, then Dwayne Haskins at +420, Will Grier at +470 and Justin Herbert at +800 to round out the top five. Of course, four of those players are quarterbacks and seven of the last eight Heisman Trophy winners have been the man under center.

Tagovailoa chasing history

The Alabama signal-caller was the backup for the majority of his freshman season last year. However, he produced when he was called upon and no appearance was more important than in the College Football Playoff National Championship game. Tagovailoa came off the bench to start the second half for the Crimson Tide, who were trailing Georgia 13-0 at the half, and he went 14-for-24 for 166 yards and three touchdowns en route to a 26-23 overtime victory for the championship.

The 2017 Alabama starter, Jalen Hurts, is still in the picture, though, but Tagovailoa got the nod for Week 1 and has already been named the starter for Week 2. The Hawaii native had a good start to the season, going 12-for-16, throwing for 227 yards and two touchdowns and also rushing for another touchdown before giving way to Hurts. The former starter went just 5-for-9 for 70 yards with no touchdowns, so it seems that coach Nick Saban will continue to lean on Tagovailoa.

In the history of the Heisman Trophy, Alabama has had two winners, both running backs. Derrick Henry was the most recent, in 2015, and Mark Ingram Jr. won in 2009. That means Tagovailoa has an opportunity to be the first Crimson Tide QB to secure the coveted trophy.

Which running back should you hitch your wagon to?

To start the season there were three running backs inside the top 10 for odds to win the Heisman, with Stanford’s Bryce Love actually having the best odds of all players at that time. The other two backs were Jonathan Taylor out of Wisconsin and Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins.

Wisconsin’s Taylor now has the second-best odds at +320 to win the award and tops the big three running backs. The New Jersey native had 1,977 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns last season and added an additional 95 receiving yards for a total of 2,072 yards from scrimmage. The last three Heisman-winning running backs averaged 1,872.3 rushing yards, 2,173 scrimmage yards and 20.3 touchdowns, so Taylor is right in the mix. In Week 1, the sophomore rushed for 145 yards and added two touchdowns.

Love (+1000) had even better numbers than Taylor last season, rushing for 2,118 yards and scoring 19 touchdowns to finish second in the Heisman voting behind winner Baker Mayfield. However, the Stanford tailback was not impressive at all in the opening week of the season. The North Carolina native touched the ball 18 times for just 29 yards, averaging 1.6 yards per carry, and did not find the end zone. The senior will have to turn things around in a hurry or he will fade out of the conversation for the trophy that he was favored to win at the start of the year.

Stay away from J.K. Dobbins (+6600). The Ohio State sophomore was the lead back last season when Mike Weber was dogged by injuries and a lack of productivity when he did get carries. In Dobbins’ freshman season, he rushed for 1,403 yards and scored seven touchdowns and before this season had odds of +1800 to win the Heisman. However, based on the opening week, it appears that Weber will be the starter. He had 20 carries to Dobbins’ 15, and amassed 186 yards and three touchdowns while Dobbins had 74 yards and no scores.

Will Grier may provide the best value at this point

West Virginia quarterback Will Grier (+470) had a tremendous Week 1 and is definitely in the early conversation for the Heisman Trophy. As a junior last year, Grier threw for 3,490 yards and 34 touchdowns while giving up 12 interceptions. A very good year, but in perspective, the 2017 Heisman winner, Baker Mayfield, threw for 4,340 yards with 41 touchdowns and just five interceptions.

The North Carolina native put in a dominant performance in Week 1, throwing for a career-high 429 yards, the first time he has thrown for more than 400 yards, and tied a career high with five touchdowns. He also completed 73.5 percent of his passes in the Mountaineers’ 40-14 victory. If Grier can continue to evolve as a signal-caller, he may quickly become the front-runner to win the award and at +470 he may provide some great value.

Here’s a look at the odds for the Heisman Trophy heading into Week 2:

2018 Heisman Trophy Winner Odds
Tua Tagovailoa (QB Alabama)+300
Jonathan Taylor (RB Wisconsin)+320
Dwayne Haskins (QB Ohio State)+420
Will Grier (QB West Virginia)+470
Justin Herbert (QB Oregon)+800
Bryce Love (RB Stanford)+1000
Kyler Murray (QB Oklahoma)+1500
Khalil Tate (QB Arizona)+1700
Nick Fitzgerald (QB Mississippi State)+2100
Trace McSorley (QB Penn State)+2200
Jake Fromm (QB Georgia)+3300
Jarrett Stidham (QB Auburn)+3500
D'Andre Swift (RB Georgia)+3700
McKenzie Milton (QB UCF)+3700
Jake Browning (QB Washington)+4000
Drew Lock (QB Missouri)+4000
Shea Patterson (QB Michigan)+6200
Brett Rypien (QB Boise State)+6500
J.K. Dobbins (RB Ohio State)+6600
Nick Bosa (DL Ohio State)+7500
David Sills (WR West Virginia)+7500
Eric Dungey (QB Syracuse)+8000
Travis Etienne (RB Clemson)+10000
Cam Akers (RB Florida State)+11000
Sam Ehlinger (QB Texas)+12000
Ryan Finley (QB NC State)+16000

Odds as of September 5 at MyBookie

Archived Articles

The Heisman Trophy is supposed to be awarded to the most outstanding player in college football every season. But more often than not, the term “player” means “quarterback.” Since 2000, a quarterback has been awarded the Heisman on 15 of 18 occasions.

The other three? They were all running backs.

This upcoming college football season is expected to be dominated by running backs. In fact, two of the three front-runners – according to oddsmakers – to win the Heisman next season are running backs. Jonathan Taylor of Wisconsin (+900) and Bryce Love of Stanford (+750) are expected to be in a heated competition for the statue, with J.K. Dobbins (+1800) also in the mix. 

But what do those running backs need to accomplish in order to beat out not just one another but every other quarterback in the nation?

The three running backs to win a Heisman since the turn of the millennium are Derrick Henry in 2015, Mark Ingram in 2009 and Reggie Bush in 2005. And yes, Bush has since had his Heisman vacated but he is still one of the few benchmarks we have for what a running back needs to do in order to win the award.

Averages Of Last 3 Heisman-winning Running Backs
PlayerCarriesRushing YardsYPCRush TDsScrimmage Yards
Derrick Henry (2015)39522195.6282310
Mark Ingram (2009)27116586.1171992
Reggie Bush (2005)20017408.7162218

Of course, that trio of backs put up ridiculous numbers. If you look at the averages of Henry, Ingram and Bush as the standard for a running back to win the Heisman, you can truly see how impressive each of their seasons was. Just last season, only four running backs topped the benchmark above in rushing yards, seven in carries, three in yards per carry (minimum 200 rushing attempts) and three in touchdowns.  

However, both Taylor and Love surpassed two of the four averages listed above – Love was only 15 carries short of the Heisman average as well. Dobbins did not find his name in any of the categories – though he did average 7.2 yards per carry on 194 attempts – but keep in mind that he was a freshman last season and saw plenty of carries taken away due to J.T. Barrett and Mike Weber’s spot on the roster.

Taylor gets the edge over his competition largely due to how phenomenal he was during his freshman campaign. Despite being just 18 for the bulk of the 2017 college football season, he racked up 2,118 rushing yards on 8.1 yards per carry while finding the end zone on 19 occasions. In addition, the entirety of Wisconsin’s offensive line returns from last season, which means there is little reason to expect Taylor to falter.

The real wild card is Dobbins. It is clear that he is the best offensive player in Columbus this upcoming season and he was the shining star last season when given the opportunity. With quarterback Barrett gone, Dobbins will be asked to shoulder more of the running load this season – especially with new quarterback Dwayne Haskins expected to take over. If Haskins is the starter, it will be interesting to see how Dobbins is employed, as the offensive scheme would likely need to shift to a downfield passing attack to properly utilize Haskins’ strengths.

All these numbers don’t mean much if you look at one factor that is out of the players’ hands. The past two running backs to win the Heisman (Henry, Ingram) saw their biggest competition come from other backs (Christian McCaffrey, Toby Gerhart). Both 2015 and 2009 were somewhat down years for quarterbacks and so voters turned toward the backfield. And though there is no quarterback who stands out as a competitor for the Heisman, surely a few will emerge throughout the season.

That being said, if there was one year where you could expect a running back to win the Heisman, it is 2018.

2018 Heisman Trophy Winner
Bryce Love (RB Stanford)+700
Tua Tagovailoa (QB Alabama)+750
Jonathan Taylor (RB Wisconsin)+900
Dwayne Haskins (QB Ohio State)+1100
Will Grier (QB West Virginia)+1400
Khalil Tate (QB Arizona)+1400
Jake Fromm (QB Georgia)+1500
Trace McSorley (QB Penn State)+1500
J.K. Dobbins (RB Ohio State)+1800
Trevor Lawrence (QB Clemson)+2000
Shea Patterson (QB Michigan)+2000
Kyler Murray (QB Oklahoma)+2200
Jarrett Stidham (QB Auburn)+2500
Jake Browning (QB Washington)+2500
Cam Akers (RB Florida State)+2800
Justin Herbert (QB Oregon)+3000
AJ Dillon (RB Boston College)+3300
Sam Ehlinger (QB Texas)+3500
D'Andre Swift (RB Georgia)+4000
McKenzie Milton (QB UCF)+4000
Deondre Francois (QB FSU)+4500
Drew Lock (QB Missouri)+4500
Brandon Wimbush (QB Notre Dame)+5000
Kelly Bryant (QB Clemson)+5000
Damien Harris (RB Alabama)+5500
Nick Fitzgerald (QB Mississippi State)+6000
Travis Etienne (RB Clemson)+8000
Ryan Finley (QB NC State)+12500
Ed Oliver (DL Houston)+12500
Nick Bosa (DL Ohio State)+12500
Justice Hill (RB Oklahoma State)+12500
Stephen Carr (RB USC)+15000
Frank Nutil (QB Temple)+20000
David Sills (WR West Virginia)+22500

Odds as of August 21 at Bovada