Heisman Odds 2021: Malik Willis, Matt Corral make their case in Week 3

Both Matt Corral and Malik Willis saw their Heisman Trophy odds slashed after carving up defenses during college football Week 3 action.

Much like his Alabama Crimson Tide against Florida, Bryce Young is clinging on to his status as the favorite for the Heisman Trophy. Unlike those Gators, Matt Corral came up clutch late to tie the Heisman odds following college football Week 3. Is it a two-horse race for college football’s greatest individual prize, or is Malik Willis coming up on the rails?

Heisman Trophy odds following Week 3

  • Bryce Young, QB, Alabama +200
  • Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss +200
  • Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma +1400
  • Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati +1800
  • C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State +1800
  • Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina +2500
  • JT Daniels, QB, Georgia +3000
  • TreVeyon Henderson, RB, Ohio State +3500
  • CJ Verdell, RB, Oregon +3500
  • Malik Willis, QB, Liberty +4000

Willis climbs into the top 10 with another consummate performance

When you search for the definition of the “Heisman Trophy,” it is summed up as being awarded annually to the most outstanding player in college football. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work. There may or may not also be a picture of Liberty quarterback Malik Willis alongside it.

Forget the level of competition for one second. After all, Zach Wilson finished eighth in Heisman voting last fall and was drafted second in the 2021 NFL Draft despite playing for BYU and laying waste to teams like Louisiana Tech. If you’ve got IT, you’ve got it.

Willis has it. While some of his other quarterback contemporaries have stumbled at various points through the first three weeks, the former Auburn QB has been electric at every turn. On Saturday night, he threw for 242 yards and 4 touchdowns. Meanwhile, he added 2 scores and 77 yards on the ground as Liberty beat Old Dominion 45-17.

As a result, DraftKings has slashed his Heisman Trophy odds from +7500 to +4000 overnight.

Corral crushes Tulane, sees his Heisman Trophy odds cut again

In what should become a battle for the Heisman Trophy and the QB1 of the 2022 NFL Draft class, Matt Corral watched Willis demolish Old Dominion, then went out and terrorized Tulane. If the two dynamic dual-threat signal-callers were sat around a card table, you could imagine the Ole Miss QB looking Willis dead in the eye and saying:

“I’ll see your Heisman-worthy performance, and I’ll raise you nearly 100 yards and an extra score.”

That’s right; Corral totaled 7 touchdowns in the 61-21 beat down of the Green Wave. The Ole Miss stat-suffer threw for 335 yards and 3 touchdowns while running in 4 scores and tallying 68 yards.

It’s an impressive performance by itself. However, when you compare Corral’s dissection of Tulane with Spencer Rattler‘s difficulties on opening day, you begin to understand the magnitude of what Corral is doing for Ole Miss.

As per DraftKings’ Heisman Trophy odds, he’s now the co-favorite to land the trophy in December. Corral came into the week at +600 and is now +200. Remember when we said to get behind him at +1200? That ship has royally sailed, and it would be a surprise to see it come into dock again.

Heisman Trophy odds for notable quarterback candidates

Having been the preseason Heisman favorite, Rattler’s continued inconsistency has seen his odds lengthened to +1400. Oklahoma struggled to a win against a gritty Nebraska team on the 50th anniversary of the “Game of the Century.” While his chances of landing the trophy diminish, his grasp on the QB1 title of the 2022 NFL Draft also seems to be slipping away.

Sam Howell stands firm with odds of +2500 to land the Heisman Trophy for the second consecutive week. While most quarterbacks saw their odds lengthened, Howell’s 5 passing touchdowns helped North Carolina to a 59-39 win in a thriller over Virginia. Meanwhile, Brennan Armstrong went toe-to-toe with the Tar Heels, throwing for 554 yards and 4 touchdowns.

DraftKings didn’t offer odds on the Virginia QB last week, but you can now back him at +7500 to lift the Heisman Trophy.

Oregon’s Anthony Brown (+4000), Penn State’s Sean Clifford (+5000), and Michigan State’s Payton Thorne (+10000) all saw their Heisman Trophy odds slashed after leading their teams to impressive victories in college football Week 3.

Running backs beating down a path to the Heisman Trophy

Stop the press! Running backs do matter! While the odds for the Heisman Trophy still show that it is a quarterback-dominated affair, several running backs are flexing their muscle in a bid to become the first running back since Derrick Henry to lift the prestigious award.

If the Heisman Trophy rewards diligence, hard work, and perseverance, then Ohio State’s TreVeyon Henderson should already have his name etched into the trophy as he persistently keeps Ohio State relevant in the race for the College Football Playoffs. While C.J. Stroud finds his feet under center, Ohio State’s freshman running back puts his to devastating use.

Henderson rushed for 277 yards and 3 touchdowns as the Buckeyes stumbled past Tulsa 41-20. The running back has odds of +3500 to lift the Heisman Trophy, tied with Oregon’s CJ Verdell as the running back viewed most likely by DraftKings to raise the award.

Although Verdell averaged just 4.9 yards per carry on his way to 54 rushing yards, his versatility as a pass catcher out the backfield adds to his allure. The diminutive back snagged 4 receptions, 34 yards, and a touchdown as the Ducks beat Stony Brook 48-7.

Meanwhile, the nation’s leading rusher has odds of +6000 to lift the Heisman Trophy. After another monster performance against Miami (FL), Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III has 493 yards and 5 touchdowns through Week 3 of the college football season.

Defense wins championships, rarely the Heisman

A defensive player hasn’t won the Heisman since Charles Woodson in 1997. If the DraftKings odds are to be believed, it’s improbable that his feat will be replicated this season.

LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. remains the defensive favorite with odds of +20000 to receive the Heisman Trophy in December. However, Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton is closing in on Stingley. There were no odds available on the versatile playmaker last week. After securing his third interception of the season in a 27-13 win over Purdue, DraftKings is now offering +25000 on the Fighting Irish enforcer.

Can Drake London be the next DeVonta Smith?

After years without a pass catcher winning the Heisman Trophy, the odds of consecutive winners puts the wide into wide receiver. Despite this, Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave have been the presumed natural successor to DeVonta Smith.

After Saturday night, is there a new kid in town? Enter Drake London. The USC anomaly combines the physical attributes of a big-bodied pass catcher with the sneaky elusiveness of a smaller wide receiver. He came alive in Week 3, racking up 170 yards and snagging 2 touchdowns as the post-Clay Helton era started with a 45-14 win over Washington State.

All three NFL Draft prospects, plus Alabama’s John Metchie III, have Heisman Trophy odds of +10000. Other notable pass catchers include Boston College’s Zay Flowers (+15000), Texas A&M’s versatile offensive weapon Ainias Smith (+15000), and Clemson’s Justyn Ross (+20000).

Right now, however, it’s Corral and Willis’ world, and we’re just living in it. It’s a marvelous time to be alive.

Oliver Hodgkinson is an NFL Draft and College Football Analyst for Pro Football Network. Check out the rest of his work here, and you can find him on Twitter @ojhodgkinson.