Heisman Trophy watch: Updated odds, top candidates to win 2020 award

NCAA Football

Heisman Trophy watch: Updated odds, top candidates to win 2020 award

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Is the race for sports’ most prestigious individual award down to two players?

That seems to be the consensus among oddsmakers, who have Florida quarterback Kyle Trask and Alabama quarterback Mac Jones as the clear favorites to take home the 2020 Heisman Trophy. Both of those players lead teams at the forefront of the College Football Playoff, and will meet in a week’s time at the SEC championship game in Atlanta. It should be the most impactful game remaining for the Heisman race in 2020.

That said, a handful of other quarterbacks — and a skilled player — have impressed oddsmakers enough to warrant their inclusion in the latest set of odds heading into the penultimate weekend of the season.

MORE: College football picks, predictions against the spread for Week 15

With that, Sporting News breaks down the Heisman Trophy odds heading into Week 15, including who has the best shot at taking home the hardware in 2020:

Heisman odds 2020

Heading into Week 15, the odds-on favorites to win the Heisman are Trask (-130) and Jones (+100). They are Vegas’ clear favorites to win the award, as Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence comes in a distant third at +1000. Curiously, Alabama receiver DeVonta Smith is in the mix as well, at +2200 odds. That might not seem overly important in the race, but it’s still worth noting that he is among the top projected players (even beating out a 2019 Heisman finalist among oddsmakers).

Below are the top odds to bring home the 2020 Heisman Trophy:

Player Odds Kyle Trask (QB, Florida) -130 Mac Jones (QB, Alabama) +100 Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson) +1000 Ian Book (QB, Notre Dame) +1600 DeVonta Smith (WR, Alabama) +2200 Justin Fields (QB, Ohio State) +2500

Top Heisman candidates

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Kyle Trask, QB, Florida

    2020 stats: 230 of 322 passing (71.4 percent); 3,243 yards; 38 touchdowns, three interceptionsLast game: 35 of 49 passing (71.4 percent); 433 yards; four touchdowns; one punt (32 yards)

Trask is the favorite at this stage because of his nation-leading 38 passing touchdowns, eight more than second-place Dillon Gabriel of UCF (30) and 11 more than the nearest projected Heisman contender (Jones, 27). He also ranks second nationally in pass completions (230) and passing yards (3,243). He can pad his stats against LSU before taking on Jones and Alabama in an SEC championship game that could very well determine the 2020 Heisman winner.

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Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

    2020 stats: 193 of 255 passing (75.7 percent); 3,113 yards; 27 touchdowns, three interceptionsLast game: 20 of 28 passing (71.4 percent); 385 yards; four touchdowns; 234.1 passer rating

Jones is in the Heisman running not for his volume — which is still respectable among the national ranks — but for his efficiency. He is second nationally in completion percentage (75.7 percent) and passer rating (210.8). Because he has 67 fewer passes than Trask, he also ranks second nationally in adjusted yards per attempt (13.8) while still ranking fourth in passing yards (3,113) and tied for third in passing touchdowns (27).

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Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

    2020 stats: 173 of 250 passing (69.2 percent); 2,431 yards; 20 touchdowns, three interceptionsLast game: 12 of 22 passing (54.5 percent); 195 yards; one touchdown, one interception; seven rushes, 41 yards, two touchdowns

The best pure talent with the highest NFL upside of his class — and many before it — likely won’t win the Heisman because of limited production in 2020. That’s not entirely his fault: He missed games against Boston College and Notre Dame because of a COVID-19 diagnosis, leaving backup D.J. Uiagalelei to amass 781 passing yards and six total touchdowns in his place. Lawrence would have a much better chance at the Heisman if he had played in those games.

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Ian Book, QB, Notre Dame

    2020 stats: 181 of 286 passing (63.3 percent); 2,381 yards; 15 touchdowns, two interceptionsLast game: 24 of 37 passing (64.9 percent); 285 yards; three touchdowns, one interception; eight rushes, 53 yards, two touchdowns

Book’s numbers are similar to Lawrence’s, even with two more games played. His relative lack of productivity — he ranks 20th in pass completions (181) and 16th in passing yards (2,381) — will likely keep him from the award. Still and yet, the Fighting Irish would rather their quarterback lead them to their 12th national championship than the school’s eighth Heisman.

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DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

    2020 stats: 80 receptions for 1,305 receiving yards (16.3 yards per reception); 16 touchdowns from scrimmage (15 receiving)Last game: Eight receptions for 231 yards (28.9 yards per reception); three receiving touchdowns

Smith’s Week 14 outburst against LSU vaulted him into the Heisman conversation. That he was covered at times by Derek Stingley Jr. — one of the top cover corners in the country — only makes it more impressive. Still, Smith’s own quarterback will eat many of the votes he might otherwise have garnered. That said, becoming a Heisman finalist at receiver — only the fourth since 1993 — would adequately prove Smith’s brilliance in 2020.

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Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

    2020 stats: 107 of 137 passing (78.1 percent); 1,407 yards; 15 touchdowns, three interceptions; 55 rushes, 239 yards, five touchdownsLast game: 17 of 24 passing (70.8 percent); 199 yards, two touchdowns; 13 rushes, 104 yards, two touchdowns

The only returning 2019 Heisman finalist has continued his tremendous play from last season. But missing three games because of COVID-19 will likely keep him from the Heisman. If you extrapolate Fields’ stats through a Big Ten eight-game regular season, however, he would have completed 171 of 219 attempts (78.1 percent) for 2,251 yards and 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions; he would also have 382 rushing yards (4.34 yards per carry) and eight more scores.

When is the Heisman Trophy ceremony for 2020?

Because of the onset of the coronavirus, the Heisman Trophy ceremony has been significantly delayed. It will take place Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021 — six days before the national championship game — whereas it had traditionally taken place the first Friday after conference championship weekend.

That said, don’t expect Heisman voters to take bowl games or the College Football Playoff into consideration: The deadline for voters to cast their ballots is Monday, Dec. 21 — two days after conference championship weekend concludes.

Heisman Trophy winners history

If recent history is any indication, the 2020 Heisman Trophy winner will be a quarterback. In fact, only one non-QB has won the award in the past 10 years: Alabama running back Derrick Henry, in 2015. The award is even harder to attain for receivers; the last true wideout to win the Heisman was Michigan’s Desmond Howard in 1991. Only three receivers since have even been Heisman finalists: Alabama’s David Palmer (1993), Pitt’s Larry Fitzgerald (2003) and Alabama’s Amari Cooper (2014).

It just goes to show how quarterback-centric the award has become. That said, don’t expect Trask or Jones to run away with it. While they figure to take up the majority of votes, Lawrence, Book, Smith and Fields should get some decent representation. It won’t be a blowout similar to Joe Burrow’s in 2019, when the LSU signal-caller garnered the second-highest total votes (2,608), second-highest first-place votes (841) and largest margin of victory (1,846) in Heisman voting history.

With that, here are the past 10 Heisman Trophy winners, their votes total and their margin of victory:

Year Player Total votes Margin of victory 2019 Joe Burrow, QB, LSU 2,608 1,846 2018 Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma 2,167 296 2017 Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma 2,398 1,098 2016 Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville 2,144 620 2015 Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama 1,832 293 2014 Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon 2,534 1,284 2013 Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State 2,205 1,501 2012 Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M 2,029 323 2011 Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor 1,687 280 2010 Cam Newton, QB, Auburn 2,263 1,184