It’s finally time, folks. My CFB season preview series starts today. We are just 44 days away from Clemson and Georgia kicking off the college football season with a huge out of conference showdown. I’ve had a lot of my futures in mind since last season ended and even bet some personally the day after the Natty when lines were released. However, after a few weeks of scouring magazines and particularly my week basking in the sun at Casa Prep- getting my mind and body prepared for football- I can finally say I am ready to write up my CFB futures.
I decided it would be best to start the series off with my Heisman picks, continue with national futures, and then work my way down to conferences and then win totals. Let’s start off by looking at some Heisman history for context. Since 2010, 9 out of 11 Heisman winners have been QBs with only two Alabama skill position players (Derrick Henry and Devonta Smith (last year)) breaking that trend. In the decade before that, 8 out of 10 Heisman winners were QBs with two running backs breaking the trend (yes Reggie Bush’s Heisman counts). So, this century we have had 17 QBs, 3 RBs, and 1 WR win the Heisman. A defensive player hasn’t won the award since Woodson in ’97 and if Jadeveon Clowney didn’t win the award, I don’t know if a defensive player ever will again.
To narrow it down even more, there have been 7 Heismans awarded in the College Football Playoff Era and 6 of those 7 Heisman winners were on a CFP team (Lamar Jackson being the exception) so it seems to be nearly a requirement at this point to not just be on a good team, but an elite one. So anyone out there giving you cute Heisman picks like Malik Willis from Liberty or even Desmond Ridder from Cincinnati (although they have a small shot at the CFP), ignore them. My overall point is, if you want to bet a longshot to win the Heisman, don’t bet some mid-major QB or some great linebacker, they won’t win. Bet a relatively unknown, longshot QB from a Power-5 team that could have a magical season and go on a run to the Playoff like Joe Burrow in 2019.
We will get to some longshots of that ilk that I like a little later on, but let’s start with my favorites at the top of the board.
2u Spencer Rattler (+800)
I think Spencer Rattler and Oklahoma have the potential for a very special season. They are the favorites to win the Big 12 and if they do, they should make the playoff after the Big 12 was left out last season. Rattler showed flashes of being able to put up video game numbers in his first year as a starter last year and this season, with a year under his belt and an actual full offseason with Lincoln Riley, I think he could just put up ridiculous numbers every week against Big 12 defenses and lead his team to the playoff.
2u JT Daniels (+1200)
I’m skipping over the kids from Clemson and Alabama and picking the guy fourth on the odds board for my other favorite I like. JT Daniels completely transformed the Georgia offense when he took over last year and made Georgia’s offense look as proficient throwing the ball as I’ve maybe ever seen. I think he’s ready to come out and just dominate the SEC this year and it helps being in the weaker division in the East. If he can lead Georgia to an SEC Championship, I think he will lift the Heisman.
1u Kedon Slovis (28/1)
This one could be the big payout. The PAC-12 hasn’t had a playoff team since Washington in 2017 and USC hasn’t had a Heisman winner since Reggie Bush, but if the stars align this season, I could see Slovis lifting the Heisman. He has a legit shot at going #1 overall in the NFL Draft next season:
USC is such an iconic football program that just hasn’t had that success since Pete Carroll left. If Slovis can somehow go on a run and build the USC hype, as well as his own, and win the PAC-12, I think they could make the playoff and make Slovis a Heisman finalist.
1u Breece Hall (66/1), 1u Brock Purdy (66/1)
Note: These numbers are both live at Bet MGM right now. I would bet either one at 30/1 or better (they are both between 30/1 and 40/1 at almost every other book but these numbers are INSANE so if you can get them at BetMGM, do it).
This is a joint write up because this is where I’m just going to talk about how much I love Iowa State for the next few sentences. I feel bad Oklahoma has such a good team this year, because this should be Iowa State’s shot to win the Big 12 and potentially make the playoff. They return Matt Campbell who is a top-5 coach in the country, the best running back in the nation in Breece Hall, and an experienced QB in Brock Purdy (not to mention their monster defense). If the Cyclones can find a way to exceed their high expectations and knock off Oklahoma to win the Big 12 and make the playoff, I think either of these two guys could win the Heisman. Breece Hall is the best RB in the nation, so if the award goes to any position player, the odds say it will be him so at 66/1 I’ll take my shot. Then Purdy at 66/1 is a pure value play on the QB of a team that has the 6th best odds to win the National Title.
He doesn’t have the flash of a Rattler but based on his experience compared to the other QBs on the nation’s top teams, he is being greatly disrespected in the odds.
1u Jack Coan 100/1
This is my one real longshot. Notre Dame has now made the CFP 2 of the past 3 years and the precedent has been set that an undefeated Notre Dame makes the CFP. They do have a 5-week stretch of tough games this year with Wisconsin, Cincy, VA Tech, USC, and UNC. However, it kinda works out perfect for Notre Dame because it is a tough enough stretch that if they make it out unscathed, they have a legitimate CFP resume while still not testing themselves too much. That also sets up perfectly for Jack Coan. The Wisconsin transfer was highly touted out of high school and showed signs of being able to be “that guy, pal” last season. If Coan can have a breakout season and lead Notre Dame to the CFP, his Heisman odds will be rocketing up the board all season long.
So, that’s it for my Heisman preview! Rattler, Daniels, Slovis, Hall, Purdy, and Coan are my bets to lift the Heisman Trophy at the end of the season. I also want to take this moment to say, Matt Corral will be the most electric player in the country this year, but with Ole Miss’ projected win total and his Heisman odds, the numbers just don’t add up. The value isn’t quite there in his number for the QB of a team that would need a miracle to make the CFP. However, if anyone else is to win the Heisman, I hope it’s Matt.