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For the rest of the college football season, Yahoo Sports will highlight the leading candidates for the Heisman Trophy on a weekly basis. All odds are via BetMGM.
Usually the best player on the best team will work their way into the Heisman Trophy conversation, but that can be difficult for defensive linemen.
Jordan Davis is the 6-foot-6, 340-pound goliath in the middle of Georgia’s top-ranked defense. Davis is a premier run-stuffer, consistently commanding double-team blocks and punishing offensive lines on a down-to-down basis. With Davis occupying blockers, the rest of Georgia’s defenders are free to fly around to the ball.
Davis won’t wow you with his statistical output. He’s got 21 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and eight quarterback hits, but any coach will tell you how vital he is to a defense that is allowing only 230.2 yards and 6.6 points per game.
How realistic is it for a player like Davis to win the Heisman? Not very. But in a year without a true front runner, should he be getting more consideration?
Davis is currently listed at +8000 to win the Heisman Trophy at BetMGM. He’s got the best odds of any defensive player, but he’s behind 10 offensive players — seven quarterbacks and three running backs. Those two positions dominate the collection of Heisman winners with only one defensive player — Michigan’s Charles Woodson in 1997 — ever winning college football’s most coveted award.
And aside from Woodson’s historic win, only two defensive players have ever finished as the Heisman runner-up: Pittsburgh defensive lineman Hugh Green in 1980 and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o in 2012.
Plenty of defensive players receive Heisman votes, but they usually finish closer to 10th than they do first. Over the past 50 seasons, only 13 defensive players have finished in the top five of the Heisman voting. The most recent was Ohio State defensive end Chase Young in 2019.
Young put up ridiculous stats that season — 44 tackles, 21 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks — and was invited to the Heisman ceremony in New York City, but he finished fourth behind quarterbacks Joe Burrow, Jalen Hurts and Justin Fields.
It’s safe to say there hasn’t been the same caliber of quarterback play this season. That could open the door for a player like Davis despite the fact he doesn’t play a position that will translate to eye-popping numbers on the stat sheet. That’s especially true if Georgia continues to win in dominant fashion.
(Below are the current betting favorites to win the Heisman Trophy. Odds courtesy of BetMGM.)
Even after a rough performance from the Alabama offense in a 20-14 win over LSU, Bryce Young remains the betting favorite for the Heisman. Alabama struggled mightily with its rushing attack, butting a huge weight on Young’s shoulders. He finished the game 24-of-37 for 302 yards and two touchdowns with his 58-yard deep ball to Jameson Williams ultimately proving to be the difference. Young has thrown for 2,755 yards and 28 touchdowns this season.
Kenneth Walker III had another strong game for Michigan State, but it wasn’t enough for MSU to avoid an upset at Purdue. In the 40-29 loss, Walker rushed for 136 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. He’s now up to 1,330 yards and 15 touchdowns on the year with six 100-yard outings and two games with 200-plus yards. Walker, who now leads the nation in rushing, had the fourth-best Heisman odds a week ago, but is now in that No. 2 spot behind Young.
Like Alabama, Ohio State had an uneven performance on Saturday. The Buckeyes emerged with a 26-17 road win over Nebraska, overcoming an up-and-down performance from Stroud. The redshirt freshman threw for 405 yards and two touchdowns, but also had two interceptions and put the ball in harm’s way far too often. For the season, Stroud has thrown for 2,675 yards, 25 touchdowns and five interceptions.
Matt Corral has been banged up in recent weeks and has seen his Heisman odds dip. Last week, he was second behind Young at +275. Now he’s down to +450 following Ole Miss’ 27-14 win over Liberty. In the win, Corral completed 20-of-27 passes for 324 yards and a touchdown. Corral has thrown for 2,527 yards, 16 touchdowns and two interceptions on the year. He’s also accounted for 528 yards and 10 scores on the ground.
Caleb Williams, the Oklahoma freshman, continues to creep up the odds board. The Sooners had a bye this past weekend ahead of a big stretch of games against some of the better teams in the Big 12 — Baylor, Iowa State and Oklahoma State. Williams did not see significant action until the sixth game of OU’s season, but he has undoubtedly raised the play of the offense since he was inserted into the lineup. In just three starts, Williams has thrown for 1,189 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also has rushed for 288 yards and four scores.
The loss to Miami put a bit of a damper on Pitt’s season, but the Panthers are still the betting favorite to win the ACC following a blowout victory over Duke on Saturday. Pickett had another huge statistical performance in the win, throwing for 416 yards and three touchdowns along with 57 rushing yards and a score. For the season, Pickett has thrown for 3,171 yards and 29 touchdowns. Those numbers rank No. 5 and No. 3 in the country, respectively.
Another ACC quarterback we haven’t talked enough about is Wake Forest’s Sam Hartman. While the Wake defense hasn’t been able to stop anybody, the Demon Deacons are 8-1 thanks to their high-powered offense. Hartman, a senior like Pickett, has thrown for at least 300 yards in five consecutive games. And over Wake’s last three outings, he is averaging 419.3 yards per game. For the year, Hartman has thrown for 2,873 yards and 27 touchdowns. He also has eight rushing TDs.
Others on the radar
Ohio State RB TreVeyon Henderson (+4000)
Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder (+5000)
Alabama RB Brian Robinson (+6600)
Georgia DL Jordan Davis (+8000)