The early 2019 Heisman Trophy odds have been released by Bovada and we’ve already analyzed the odds of the frontrunners for next season’s award.
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa are the two favorites entering next season, which shouldn’t be a surprise given that Lawrence led the Tigers to a national championship and Tagovailoa was the Heisman runner-up last season.
We went ahead and examined Bovada’s opening Heisman Trophy odds from the last five seasons to analyze where past winners have stood during the January of their Heisman Trophy-winning year compared to the rest of the preseason frontrunners.
Here’s what we found.
The last two Heisman Trophy winners – former Oklahoma quarterbacks Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield – have had exact opposite placement among the initial odds, despite playing the same position for the same school.
Mayfield was the preseason favorite to win the Heisman Trophy with 11/2 odds in 2017, just ahead of Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett (6-1) and Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson (7/1).
One year later, Murray wasn’t listed among the 23 players listed by Bovada, which included 13 quarterbacks.
Bovada had a similar disparity in how its initial odds compared to the final Heisman Trophy results in the previous two seasons in which a quarterback won the award.
|Heisman Trophy Winner||Year||School||Opening Bovada Odds||Opening Rank|
Jackson, who won the Heisman in 2016, wasn’t listed among the sportsbook’s 13 frontrunners whose odds were released in mid-January of that year. But two years prior, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota won the Heisman after opening with the second-best odds of any player at 7/2, behind only Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston (2/1).
Alabama running back Derrick Henry, who won the 2015 Heisman Trophy, split the difference of Mayfield and Mariota’s frontrunner status with the lack of initial odds for Murray and Jackson’s Heisman campaigns.
Henry was tied for eighth in early 2015 with 14/1 odds, while Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott (6/1), Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott (7/1), LSU’s Leonard Fournette (7/1) and TCU’s Trevone Boykin (15/2) were the clear top four candidates.
This examination of the last five years of Bovada’s opening Heisman Trophy odds tells us – for betting purposes or otherwise – that you’re best bet is to either go with one of the preseason favorites or a player who is completely off the radar, but has the potential to take the Heisman conversation by storm.
There also may be something to be said about preseason Heisman Trophy frontrunners struggling to compete with their own statistical precedents and lofty external expectations from the media.
Here’s a look at the players who had the top three opening Heisman Trophy odds in each of the last five seasons and where they ultimately finished in the Heisman voting. For players who finished outside of the top 10, we listed their ranking in the final Heisman voting as “N/A”.
|Player||Year||School||Position||Opening Odds From Bovada||Opening Rank||Heisman Trophy Finish|
|J.T. Barrett||2017||Ohio State||QB||6/1||2nd||N/A|
|Ezekiel Elliott||2015||Ohio State||RB||6/1||1st||8th|
|Dak Prescott||2015||Mississippi State||QB||7/1||T-2nd||N/A|
|Jameis Winston||2014||Florida State||QB||2/1||1st||6th|
|Braxton Miller||2014||Ohio State||QB||4/1||3rd||N/A|
Using Bovada’s top three Heisman Trophy candidates from the sportsbook’s opening odds, only nine of the 15 frontrunners finished in the top 10. Only four finished in the top five of the Heisman voting.
That tells us that if recent trends continue next season, roughly only one of next season’s early Heisman Trophy frontrunners — like Lawrence, Tagovailoa and Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm — will finish among the top vote-getters for the 2019 Heisman Trophy.