And breathe. Now that you’ve finally taken a minute to recover from the wildest ride that was the first full weekend of college football this year, it’s time to dive into the ramifications of the action on the Heisman Trophy odds. Who elevated their chances of landing college football’s greatest individual honor, which players aren’t getting the respect they deserve, and who should be on your Heisman Trophy watch ahead of Week 2 of the season?
Week 2 Heisman Trophy watch and odds
It’s Anthony Richardson‘s world and we’re just living in it. The Florida quarterback was the indisputable winner of the 2022 college football season’s opening weekend, dominating an extremely strong Utah defense with a display that dazzled, drew audible gaps, and left Florida fans dreaming of a first Heisman Trophy-winning Gators QB since Tim Tebow in 2007.
History will show that it was Amari Burney’s goal-line interception that ensured the Billy Napier era in “The Swamp” get off to a winning start. The box score will show that Richardson only threw for 168 yards, hardly Heisman Trophy-worthy statistical production. Yet, the fact of the matter is that if it wasn’t for Richardson, the Gators likely wouldn’t have been holding a three-point lead as Cameron Rising led his Utes down the field in the waning seconds of the game.
The 168 passing yards only tell a minuscule part of Richardson’s contribution to the Florida victory. The potential 2023 NFL Draft riser was responsible for three scores on the ground, finding the end zone with two short-yardage touchdowns and a late second-quarter 45-yard scramble that gave Florida an important 14-13 lead. Games are turned, won and lost, in moments like that, and those plays can define a Heisman Trophy résumé.
Richardson was a conjurer, a magician, an escapologist. Some of his plays defied belief. We often talk about a Heisman Trophy moment, that one play that defines a player’s candidacy as the greatest player in the college football game. If that wasn’t what the Houdini-esque two-point attempt that saw the Florida QB evade pressure, scramble, and throw an absolute laser to the end zone was, I don’t know what is. DraftKings responded by slashing Richardson’s Heisman Trophy odds to +2200, making him one of the early favorites.
C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young resume their Heisman Trophy battle
The preseason Heisman Trophy odds made Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud an early favorite to lift college football’s greatest individual award, with a narrow margin separating him from the latest member of the Heisman house — Alabama quarterback Bryce Young. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see these two flip-flop as favorites as the season winds and weaves its way to New York. After Week 1, the pendulum swung towards Young.
In this very column last week, I’d opined that Stroud couldn’t afford to get off to a slow start in a tough game against Notre Dame if he wanted to remain as the odds-on favorite for the Heisman Trophy. The second-year Buckeyes starter had his struggles early on, eerily reminiscent of the faltering opening to his 2021 campaign. Stroud found his footing and threw for 223 yards and two touchdowns on the night to help Ohio State overcome the Irish. However, his Heisman Trophy odds slid out to +350 from +220 ahead of Week 2.
Such was the Week 1 schedule that Stroud, Young, and Richardson were all doing battle on the field — and for the Heisman Trophy — at the same time. While Richardson shined and Stroud endured, Young was leading Alabama to a dominant win over Utah State. Many people have labeled the reigning Mountain West opponent a cupcake game. While it can’t be argued that they’re of the same caliber as Utah or Notre Dame, Utah State is far from a walkover.
Except, that’s exactly what Young did on Saturday night, both figuratively and literally. In a display reminiscent of some of the best games he put together last fall, the Alabama QB was routinely poised, accurate, and deadly as a passer. Although he only threw for 195 yards, Young tallied five touchdown strikes. Meanwhile, he racked up 100 yards and a score on the ground. As a result of his impressive performance, Young heads into Week 2 as the Heisman Trophy favorite, with odds of +300 from DraftKings to retain his crown.
Illinois running back chasing Heisman glory
Like the NFL MVP award, the Heisman Trophy has become synonymous with the quarterback position. It’s a consequence of the evolution of the game. With a hyper-focus on high-octane passing offenses, the player that drives that attack is understandably the focus of the attention and glory. As a result, a running back hasn’t won the award since Derrick Henry, and there have been just 20 RBs who have taken home the highest honor in the game.
It’s even harder to win the award if you’re a player on a team that isn’t dominating college football. As a result, it’s often the case that the actual best player in the nation — the player that best measures up to the Heisman Trophy’s remit of excellence alongside integrity — isn’t the player that holds the trophy aloft during the December ceremony in New York.
It’s hard to argue that there’s a player playing better football than Illinois running back Chase Brown right now. The fifth-year RB opened the season with a 151-yard outing against Wyoming then powered to 199 yards in a losing effort to Indiana. He’s carving up defenses for fun with an unmatched combination of speed, vision, and physicality. It’s early in the season, but Brown leads the nation in yards per game while averaging over six yards per carry.
Yet, Brown doesn’t play at Alabama or Ohio State, or even Texas. He plays for a team that is 1-1 and likely won’t compete near the top of the Big Ten let alone for a College Football Playoff berth, and thus, is overlooked as one of the top players in the nation.
You can find odds for Bijan Robinson (+22800) and Jahmyr Gibbs (+3000) to win the Heisman Trophy. DraftKings even offers odds on the nomadic Lyn-J Dixon (+20000) to be named the best CFB player. However, you cannot currently find odds for the running back who is actually leading the nation heading into Week 2 of the college football season.
What to watch for in Week 2 of the college football season
Drake Maye is looking every bit a Heisman contender through two games of his debut season under center. With 646 passing yards, nine touchdowns to no interceptions, and an average of 8.8 yards per throw, the Tar Heels QB is impressing statistically.
He’s also dragging the team on his back in a Sam Howell-esque fashion while routinely making high-level throws that make him one of the top quarterbacks in the nation. Maye heads to take on Georgia State in Week 2 with odds of +10000 to win the Heisman Trophy that are shortening every week.
Oklahoma State QB Spencer Sanders has earned significant national attention after his 406 passing yards, 57 rushing yards, and six total touchdowns led the Cowboys past a plucky Central Michigan team. The fifth-year QB is currently +7000 to win the Heisman Trophy per DraftKings and features in a must-watch matchup against an Arizona State outfit led by Emory Jones.
Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers (+3500) led the Longhorns to an emphatic win on opening weekend, but he faces a significantly sterner test in Week 2 when Alabama comes to Austin. Crimson Tide crusher, Will Anderson Jr., made his mark on Utah State, and a similarly dominant performance will help his résumé as he bids to be only the second defensive player to be named the best player in college football. The marquee game of the week features half of the top 10 Heisman Trophy contenders.
Finally, Week 2 of the CFB season boasts a matchup between two quarterbacks with the opportunity to gatecrash Stroud and Young’s stranglehold at the top of both the 2023 NFL Draft class and race for the Heisman Trophy. When Kentucky travels to Florida in Week 2, Will Levis (+6000) and Richardson will both be in the shop window. It’s been 15 years since Tebow won the Heisman for the Gators. It’s almost poetic that their best opportunity to win it since rests with a quarterback with the iconic No. 15 on his chest.
Current Heisman Trophy odds
- Bryce Young, QB, Alabama +300
- C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State +350
- Caleb Williams, QB, USC +600
- Stetson Bennett IV, QB, Georgia +1800
- Will Anderson Jr., OLB, Alabama +2000
- Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida +2200
- Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas +2800
- Dillon Gabriel, QB, Oklahoma +3000
- Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama +3000
- Quinn Ewers, QB, Texas +3500