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Heisman Trophy Odds: Bryce Young leads a quintet of quarterback contenders

A quintet of quarterbacks, led by Bryce Young, are battling it out in the Heisman Trophy odds race after college football's Week 8.

For large swathes of Saturday night, it looked like Alabama might be in trouble against a determined Tennessee team. But, when the cigar smoke settled — and let’s be thankful that’s all it was — another bedazzling performance by Bryce Young ensures that he remains the Heisman Trophy odds favorite following Week 8. However, the Alabama QB wasn’t the only signal-caller stating his case on a stunning Saturday of college football.

Heisman Trophy odds following Week 8 of college football

  • Bryce Young, QB, Alabama +150
  • Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss +260
  • C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State +550
  • Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh +1000
  • Caleb Williams, QB, Oklahoma +1200
  • Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan State +2000
  • TreVeyon Henderson, RB, Ohio State +2500
  • Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati +2800
  • Brian Robinson Jr., RB, Alabama +3500
  • Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas +4500

A quintet of quarterbacks put Heisman Trophy voters in a quandary

It’s probably about time we put all pretense aside; a passer is undoubtedly going to be hoisting the Heisman Trophy in December. While four running backs inhabit the top 10 of the DraftKings Heisman Trophy odds, the slashing of odds on four quarterbacks following Week 8 of the college football season suggests that we’re going to see a signal-caller emerge victoriously. But, which one will it be?

This week, Alabama’s Young saw his odds cut from +180 to +150 with another Heisman Trophy-caliber performance in the 52-24 win over Tennessee. The de facto QB1 of the 2023 NFL Draft class went 31-of-43 passing for 371 yards and 2 touchdowns, including a glorious zipped pass into a tight end-zone window to John Metchie III. Young added 42 yards and 2 carries on the ground, the epitome of dragging your team over the finishing line.

Young needed a performance with a bit of panache to stave off Pittsburgh passer Kenny Pickett as Pitt’s QB proves to be the surprising prospect of the season. By the time Alabama kicked off in Bryant-Denny Stadium, Kenneth Shane Pickett had already slashed through the Clemson defense for Pitt’s sixth win of the season. As a result, his Heisman Trophy odds have been cut by DraftKings from +2200 to +1000.

At some point during the 27-17 win and the 25 completions for 302 passing yards and 2 touchdowns, Pickett became the passing completions leader for the Panthers. Of course, it helps that he’s been there since roughly 1997, but leading the way for a program that boasts Dan Marino among its alumni is impressive nonetheless.

C.J. Stroud and Caleb Williams complete our Heisman Trophy quartet

While it wasn’t until the fourth quarter that Alabama finally terminated Tennessee, Ohio State ignominiously destroyed Indiana with another showcase performance from C.J. Stroud. The redshirt freshman had a shaky start to his season but has recently blossomed for the Buckeyes. Stroud’s Heisman Trophy odds have been slashed again after throwing 4 touchdowns in a 54-7 humiliation of the Hoosiers.

Caleb Williams magically maneuvered between two Kansas defenders and embarked on a 40-yard touchdown run that finally gave Oklahoma breathing room in a surprisingly close encounter. Those sorts of plays are what we call “Heisman-worthy.” However, with a box score of 178 passing yards and an interception, apparently labeling him as a contender is worthy of social media scorn.

Well, what do you know? DraftKings has once again slashed the Heisman Trophy odds on Spencer Rattler’s replacement. Furthermore, they’ve not just been sliced; they’ve been more than halved. They offered +2500 on the true freshman following Week 7. Now, Williams is +1200 to lift college football’s highest individual award. Like it or not, being a game-winning quarterback at Oklahoma almost makes you a mandatory Heisman candidate in the modern era.

Intriguing long shots in the Heisman Trophy odds 

Before we get to some long-shot options from the latest Heisman Trophy odds, spare a thought for Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral. The Rebels are now 6-1 and staring down the barrel of a top-10 ranking under his leadership. Yet, DraftKings lengthened his odds out to +260 following Week 8.

Sure, it wasn’t his best performance of the season with 185 passing yards and just 24 yards rushing. However, there’s no denying his importance to Ole Miss and his continued standing as one of the best quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft class.

If the race for the Heisman Trophy is a pure numbers game, sign me up for shares in Sam Hartman. The Wake Forest wonder threw for 458 yards and 5 touchdowns in a high-scoring shootout with Army. Hartman also added a score on the ground in the 70-56 win. As the Demon Deacons dare to dream of an ACC Championship, Hartman is becoming a sneaky signal-caller to watch in the 2022 NFL Draft class.

DraftKings slashed Hartman’s Heisman Trophy odds to +6500 following his Week 8 performance. You can get the same odds on Virginia QB Brennan Armstrong to lift the Heisman Trophy in December. The Cavaliers QB is fully loaded with a cruise missile for an arm. He put up 396 yards and 4 touchdowns as Virginia overcame Georgia Tech 48-40.

Armstrong also added 99 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns on 12 carries in the win.

Could a Group of Five player record a shocking Heisman Trophy triumph?

It’s been 31 years since a player from outside the established college football elite hoisted the Heisman Trophy. In 1990, BYU quarterback Ty Detmer secured nearly 54% of the vote to become the only Cougar to win the award. That fact alone demonstrates how difficult it is to gain recognition when you’re not under the microscope of national media attention.

However, as Cincinnati continues their bid to be the first Group of Five team to reach the College Football Playoff, the opportunity for someone from outside the Power Five to emerge as a genuine contender has never been higher.

Naturally, the Bearcats are the obvious home to this contender. QB Desmond Ridder features in the top 10 of DraftKings’ Heisman Trophy odds, a +2000 option despite a difficult day in a narrow 27-20 win over Navy. His teammate, running back Jerome Ford, has Heisman Trophy odds of +10000 after his 43-yard touchdown run took the game out of reach of the Midshipmen.

2022 NFL Draft quarterback options Carson Strong (+10000) and Malik Willis (+13000) are the obvious next men up. However, SMU quarterback Tanner Mordecai (+20000), Coastal Carolina’s Grayson McCall (+25000), and UTSA running back Sincere McCormick (+25000) are all entertaining long-shot options from the Group of Five.

However, long shots are all that they are at this point. It would appear that the 2021 Heisman Trophy will belong to one of five quarterbacks from the Power Five. As the Heisman Trophy odds favorite, it would not be wise to bet against Alabama’s Young right now.

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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