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2018 College Football Heisman Rankings

Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Football is Back! I will never get tired of hearing those three words. This year’s College Football season is already full of headlines and surprises, and the first game has not even kicked off yet. Later this week I will have an article on the top ten storylines heading into the 2018 season. One of these headlines is who is going to win this year’s Heisman.

One could argue this is one of the most wide-open Heisman fields ever. You could argue, 20-25 players are legit contenders for this year’s Heisman Trophy. Each week I will have my top 5 ranking of Heisman Contenders; number one obviously being whom I believe would win the Heisman if the season ended after that week.

This week I will start will my top 5 pre-season contenders along with a couple betting tips on the Heisman Trophy.

Betting on the Heisman Trophy is a tricky prop bet, however, it can be very profitable if done right. For example, in 2016 I correctly predicted Lamar Jackson to win the Heisman Trophy before the season, his odds at that time were (+2000). Which means a $100 bettor would have cashed $2,000. Unfortunately, I only put down $25, which was good for a $500 payout. Anyway here are some fun facts to know if you’re going to bet on the Heisman this year:

* Since 2000, 82.35% (14 of 17) of the Heisman Winners have been Quarterbacks. The other three were Running Backs.

* All three Running Backs to win the Heisman (Reggie Bush, Mark Ingram, and Derrick Henry) participated in the National Championship game. Both Ingram and Henry won the National Championship.

* Since 2000, all but two Heisman winners were on a team that won double-digit games. The two that didn’t (Lamar Jackson in 2016 and Tim Tebow in 2007) won nine games that year.

* Only, two freshmen have ever won the Heisman Trophy (Johnny Manziel in 2012 and Jameis Winston in 2013). Sophomores have only won it four times.

What this tells me is that we are most likely looking at a Quarterback or a Running Back on a championship level team (10 + wins). Defensive Players (1 – Heisman Winner) and Wide Receivers (2 – Heisman Winners) may have great seasons but ultimately will not win it.

Now to our Pre-Season top five Heisman Contenders:

5. Justin Herbert, QB Oregon (Junior) – Herbert returns for his Junior Campaign to lead the Ducks to what many believe could be a surprise 2018 Pac-12 season. In the South Division, they have arguably the two best teams in the Pac-12 in their way (Washington and Stanford). However, Herbert returns four of his top five receivers from last year, as well as returning two starting offensive lineman. The Ducks get both Stanford and Washington at Autzen Stadium this year where they are an outstanding 58-10 in the last 10 years. Watch out for Herbert and the Ducks this year.

4. Trace McSorley, QB Penn State (Senior) – McSorley has been a winner everywhere he goes. He won in pop warner football; he won three consecutive Virginia state championships in High School (Briar Woods High). McSorley has followed that up with consecutive double-digit win seasons at Penn State, now he will have to do it without Saquan Barkley. He will also lose three of his top four pass catchers from last season. However, Head Coach James Franklin believes the strength of the team is up front “his best o-line unit he has had since he has been at PSU.” With a strong front and a talented roster, back to back top 15 recruiting classes (according to 247sports), McSorley could have a great year and lead the Nittany Lions to their first-ever CFP birth.

3. Khalil Tate, QB Arizona (Junior) – Much like Lamar Jackson, Tate has the ability to beat you with his arm and his legs. Last year, Tate ran for 1,411 yards and threw for another 1,591 yards. In Jackson’s Heisman year he threw 3,543 yards and rushed for 1,571 yards. As we talked about in the beginning, most Heisman winners are on a double-digit win team. Arizona, will not get there this year, However Tate could put up monster numbers. Another fun fact, the last quarterback to start for Kevin Sumlin in his first year at a new university (Johnny Manziel in 2012).

2. Jonathan Taylor, RB Wisconsin (Sophomore) – Taylor had an incredible year last season, he rushed for 1,977 yards and 13 touchdowns. That included a game against Nebraska where he rushed for 249 yards, a Wisconsin Badger Freshman Record. Wisconsin will return the most experienced offensive line in the country and has four potential first round picks on the line (Michael Dieter, Beau Benzschawel, Tyler Biadasz and David Edwards). Along with the return of Junior quarterback Alex Hornibrook, Taylor is poised for a spectacular 2018 campaign. The Badgers will take trips to the Big House (Michigan) and Beaver Stadium (Penn State). If Taylor can produce like he did last year and Wisconsin gets to 10-11 wins there is a good chance Taylor could be the second ever Sophomore running back to win the Heisman Trophy.

1. Bryce Love, RB Stanford (Senior) – Much like his predecessor (Christian McCaffrey) Love wasted no time in making himself a household name. He rushed for at least 147 yards in Stanford’s first seven games last year. Including back to back games where he broke Stanford’s single-game rushing record. First against UCLA with 263 yards, then he scampered for 301 yards against Arizona State. Despite hobbling his way to the finish line last season, Bryce Love finished second in the Heisman voting behind Baker Mayfield. Love will be running behind one of the country’s best offensive lines. Returning four of five starters from a year ago, much like Taylor, Bryce Love has a strong opportunity to race his way to New York for the Heisman Trophy.

Others in the Mix:

* Will Grier, QB West Virginia

* JK Dobbins, RB Ohio State

* Shea Patterson, QB Michigan

* Damien Harris, RB Alabama

Stay Away From:

* Tua Tagovailoa, QB Alabama – I am not convinced Nick Saban is going to give complete control to the sophomore quarterback just yet. Splitting time with Jalen Hurts is more likely, along with how dominate their running game is going to be. I would not waste your money on betting Tagovailoa to win this year’s Heisman.

Dark Horse Candidate:

* Travis Etienne, RB Clemson – As you will see in my article later this week I have high expectations for Clemson this year. They have two stud quarterbacks, but even better than those guys is Clemson’s offensive line. They return three starters including one of the best Left Tackles and Centers in the country. So I look for Etienne to have a monster year this season for the Clemson Tigers. And at +6000, Etienne provides good ROI for any better this early in the year.

That is my Pre-Season Heisman Rankings, there is no doubt these will change throughout the season. As there are always injuries and breakout stars. However, there is one thing I do know, FOOTBALL IS BACK!!

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