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Heisman Trophy Watch and Odds: Aidan Hutchinson has his Heisman moment for Michigan

Aidan Hutchinson entered the Heisman Trophy watch and his odds frayed with a destructive and dominating performance for Michigan in The Game.

How must it have felt for Jim Harbaugh yesterday? As the fans tumbled from the stands and filled the field in the same manner that the late November Michigan snow had fallen from the sky, the weight of the monkey that has defined his tenure disappearing off his back must have been tangible somehow. Yet, Harbaugh eschewed all personal praise. Instead, he campaigned for Aidan Hutchinson’s candidacy for college football‘s biggest prize. And, his Heisman Trophy odds were duly slashed by oddsmakers following Week 13 as he’s officially on watch for the prestigious prize.

Heisman Trophy odds following Week 13 of college football

  • Bryce Young, QB, Alabama -200
  • C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State +400
  • Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan +1400
  • Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh +1600
  • Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan State +1800
  • Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss +2200
  • Sam Hartman, QB, Wake Forest +5000
  • Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati +5000
  • Will Anderson Jr., OLB, Alabama +6000
  • Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia +6000

Aidan Hutchinson’s Heisman Trophy odds slashed with 3-sack showing

It was an afternoon of firsts in the Big House on Saturday afternoon. For the Wolverines, it was the first time that they’d beaten Ohio State since 2011. For Harbaugh, it was his first win in “The Game,” a lack of achievement that has dogged his tenure like a millstone around his neck. Could one player’s performance ensure that we have a defensive Heisman for the first time since 1997?

Harbaugh certainly thinks so. “Aidan, his performance was dominant. Single-season sack record already. Definitely should be a strong contender for the Heisman Trophy.”

When we talk about the Heisman Trophy, we often use the phrase “Heisman moment.” A player can be impressive throughout a season, but there is usually a game, a play, something that defines and elevates them above all others. Among the snow and emotion of college football’s biggest rivalry, the Michigan defensive end had that moment.

There could not be a more apt description for Aidan Hutchinson, for he has been impressive all season long. The duo of Hutchinson and David Ojabo has become the most disruptive and destructive in the nation. Yet, yesterday was something else. It was domination on the biggest stage, in the biggest moment, that yielded the biggest result as the Wolverines booked a place in the Big Ten Championship Game and made a bid for the College Football Playoff.

A tale of two Heisman contenders in “The Game”

It was made all the more impressive by the level of his opposition. Nicholas Petit-Frere has garnered first-round 2022 NFL Draft consideration, but Hutchinson beat him like a drum to the tune of 3 sacks and 3 tackles for loss. Unlike Gus Johnson’s voice on the call of the game, Hutchinson was unwavering in his pursuit of Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud.

Despite his 10 sacks prior to The Game, DraftKings hadn’t offered Heisman Trophy odds on Hutchinson at any point this season. Now the Michigan leader for single-season sacks (ahead of LaMarr Woodley and David Bowens), he’s jumped up to the third favorite with the oddsmakers. Hutchinson now has odds of +1400 to lift the Heisman Trophy next month.

Could he be the first defensive player of college football’s biggest individual award since 1997? It was somewhat poetic that Hutchinson propelled himself into Heisman consideration in front of the last defensive winner. Former Michigan defensive back Charles Woodson was in Ann Arbor as an honorary captain for the Wolverines.

Ohio State quarterback Stroud’s bid to be the first Ohio State player to win the award since Troy Smith in 2006 took a hit harder than the one dealt out by Hutchinson on Saturday afternoon. His sensational showing against Michigan State had made him a clear favorite. Despite throwing for 394 yards and 2 touchdowns, his Heisman Trophy odds have lengthened from -200 to +400.

Bryce Young battles to victory, Heisman favorite

It wasn’t always pretty in Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Alabama offense struggled to impose their will on a stubborn Auburn defense for large swathes of the game. There was even clamor for Auburn punter Oscar Chapman — mainly from me in all fairness — to be considered for the Heisman Trophy as the Eagles’ special teams routinely put the Crimson Tide in difficult positions to roll from.

Yet, when it mattered most, the tide did truly roll over the hopes and dreams of Auburn fans. If Hutchinson’s Heisman moment had been a three-hour extravaganza, Bryce Young’s came in two plays that kept Alabama in the running for the College Football Playoff.

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The first came with seconds left on the clock in regulation time. Having struggled all night, the offensive line bought Young just enough time to launch a 28-yard pass towards the right end-zone pylon. Ja’Corey Brooks snagged the touchdown pass with incredible body control to tie the game at 10-10, devastating the Auburn fans who’d seen their team lead the game since the second quarter.

Their devastation was complete when Young produced the game-winning score in the fourth period of overtime. A perfect pass found John Metchie III, whose route running was reminiscent of Stefon Diggs in the Buffalo Bills’ Thanksgiving beatdown of the New Orleans Saints. Alabama had the win, and Young’s heroics in victory ensure he leaves Week 13 as the Heisman Trophy favorite. The Crimson Tide quarterback is now -200 by DraftKings.

Kenny Pickett leads two ACC contenders for the Heisman Trophy

King Kenny Pickett of the Pittsburgh Panthers. If that isn’t the Heisman Trophy and 2022 NFL Draft QB1 contender’s nickname already, then it certainly should be. For Pickett is truly the king of all he surveys in the ACC, guiding the Panthers to their first 10-win season since 1981. Furthermore, he established new program records as he did so.

During the comfortable 31-14 win over Syracuse on Saturday night, Pickett surpassed Dan Marino’s single-season touchdown record for the program. Although he only tallied 209 yards, the Pitt quarterback’s methodical carving up of the Syracuse secondary resulted in 4 touchdown passes. He needs just one score against Wake Forest in the ACC Championship Game to surpass Marino’s career touchdown total.

As a result of another impressive performance, DraftKings plummeted Pickett’s Heisman Trophy odds from +4000 to +1600. His opponent next week, Sam Hartman, saw his Heisman Trophy odds slashed from +10000 to +5000 after brutalizing Boston College in Chestnut Hill. Hartman threw for 236 yards and 3 touchdowns while adding another score on the ground in a 41-10 victory.

While Pickett’s record-setting exploits have been rewarded with national recognition, the most prolific passer in the nation continues to be overlooked. Bailey Zappe threw for 4 touchdowns in a 53-21 Western Kentucky win over Marshall, setting program and Conference USA records for single-season touchdown passes. He also leads the nation in passing yards and touchdowns. Yet, DraftKings still doesn’t offer Heisman Trophy odds for Zappe.

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.

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