Who has my favorite way-too-early Heisman Trophy odds? Two B1G players
When the Heisman Trophy ceremony takes place this December, it will have been 13 years since a B1G player hoisted college football’s top individual honor.
Oddly enough, every other Power 5 conference produced a Heisman winner in the Playoff era. Melvin Gordon was the only B1G player to even finish in the top 2 of the voting during that stretch, and he got roughly half the total points as 2014 winner Marcus Mariota.
So historically speaking, yes, I realize the odds don’t favor a B1G player to win the award.
But when I saw the way-too-early odds, my eyes immediately went to a pair of B1G players.
See if you can guess who I’m talking about in these February Heisman odds from BetOnline AG:
2019 Heisman odds via @betonline_ag:
T. Lawrence 7/2
T. Tagovailoa 5/1
J. Hurts 13/2
T. Etienne, J. Fields, J. Fromm,
A. Martinez, D. Swift, J. Taylor 12/1
I. Book, S. Ehlinger, J. Herbert 16/1
K. Bryant, JT Daniels, J. Jeudy,
A. Kendall 25/1
S. Patterson, K.J. Costello 28/1
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) February 18, 2019
Still trying to figure it out? Here’s a hint. They’re both sophomore quarterbacks who wear red.
If you won this game of “Guess Who,” you of course know that I’m talking about Justin Fields and Adrian Martinez at 12-to-1.
To be clear, that last part is really what I’m talking about here. Gun to my head, I’m still obviously saying that Tua Tagovailoa and Trevor Lawrence have the best chance to win the award. Duh. That’s why their odds are where they are.
But at 12-to-1, I like the potential return on Fields and Martinez a whole lot more.
Let’s start with Fields because I know that plenty of people might view that as a prisoner-of-the-moment bet following the NCAA ruling that he’ll be allowed to play immediately at Ohio State. I watched a whole lot of Fields at Georgia, and I’ve spoken to people like Elite 11 coach Trent Dilfer about him. What did all of that tell me? That he’s going to be really, really good playing with Ryan Day, who is actually going to let him throw the ball. A lot.
Fire take, right?
There’s a reason that this guy was one of the highest-rated quarterback recruits in the rankings era. Quite simply, he has no limitations. The arm, the mobility, the “supreme physical confidence” when he hangs in the pocket (Dilfer’s words), they’re all there.
How he reads blitzes and throws into coverage at the college level is still a relative unknown because of his usage at Georgia. Yes, we’re talking about someone who hasn’t started a college game yet. That’s why his odds are only 12-to-1.
But you know who else hadn’t started a game before they put together a Heisman-worthy season? Dwayne Haskins. Tagovailoa, too. And don’t forget about Cam Newton. The same was true of redshirt freshmen Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston when they won the award in consecutive seasons, and 2018 winner Kyler Murray, who waited behind fellow Heisman winner Baker Mayfield.
So no, Fields lacking college starts wouldn’t scare me off from a gambling standpoint. In fact, I’d argue that now might be the best time to get in on his Heisman odds because of that.
There’s another thing to remember when it comes to Fields’ candidacy. This is a narrative-driven award. It almost has to be “the quarterback who bursts onto the scene at the right time.” Fields can do that in multiple ways. Besides thriving as a first-time starter, he has an extremely backloaded schedule with Penn State, Michigan and potentially the B1G Championship in his final 3 games leading up to the ceremony.
Goodness. That narrative writes itself.
Fields is my favorite early Heisman bet, and Martinez is second on that list. He’s got all the makings of someone who could follow the Heisman narrative, too.
If you watched Martinez his freshman year at Nebraska, you probably saw a few things. You saw someone who played on a bad team that should improve in 2019. You also probably saw someone who made plenty of mental mistakes, but showed plenty of promise playing in just 10.5 games, in which he did the following things:
- Over 3,000 yards from scrimmage
- 65 percent passer
- 8 rushing TDs
- 6 games with at least 3 touchdowns
Speaking of those rushing scores, that’s an underrated stat for a modern Heisman quarterback. This decade (starting with Newton in 2010), Heisman winners averaged 13 rushing touchdowns. Six of 8 had double-digit rushing scores, which I believe Martinez will reach with ease in Year 2.
I’m not saying this will definitely happen, but IF Nebraska has a year like Florida did — going from 4 wins to 10 — then Martinez would absolutely be in that conversation.
And yeah, maybe the fact that Frost fueled Mariota’s 2014 Heisman campaign is still in the back of my mind. I’m of the belief that Frost’s hand-plucked quarterback has a B1G Offensive Player of the Year honor in his future. Why can’t it be this year?
I realize that Martinez and Fields both have plenty to prove that they’re all-conference players, much less Heisman winners. We’re talking about 2 players making significant steps and exceeding some high preseason expectations.
We’re also talking about a 12-year B1G Heisman drought that’s perfectly coincided with this explosion of pass-heavy, high-powered offenses. For whatever reason, the B1G just hasn’t had that 1 player yet. Maybe that changes this year with how promising Fields and Martinez look.
Place your bets now.