With College Football season rapidly approaching we’re going to take a look at the case for, and the case against, betting on some notable candidates for the Heisman Trophy. We started the series with a video on Bryce Young a couple of weeks ago and you can check that out here. There will be a video accompanying this and all future written pieces so make sure you’re subscribed to the Betsperts Media Youtube channel to see that. Today, we’re going to focus on the odds on favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud.
Heisman Odds: CJ Stroud +200
2021 in review
Pre-bowl game stats*: 70.9 completion pct, 3,862 yds, 38 TD, 5 INT
It’s wild to think there was a brief time early in the season where people were wondering if Stroud was the right guy for the job when the Buckeyes struggled against Oregon and then Stroud struggled against Tulsa, but those questions were put to bed pretty quickly as Stroud was mostly excellent the rest of the season racking up over 3,800 yards and 38 touchdowns. Stroud was the Heisman favorite until the Michigan game where the Buckeyes loss knocked him from serious consideration for the award, but he still finished second in voting. Stroud finished the year with a spectacular game in the Rose Bowl throwing for 573 yards and six touchdowns (* for the sake of these pieces, we’ll be using pre-bowl game stats since Heisman voting is done prior to bowl games.)
The Case For Betting On Stroud
Even though Bryce Young is the reigning Heisman winner, it’s easy to see why Stroud is the favorite. There’s never been a two-time Heisman winner and Stroud, and Ohio State, have all the pieces they should need to contend for the National Championship. It’s wild that a team that had two players at the same position go 10th and 11th in the NFL Draft would still be fine at that position, but it’s true. Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave would tell you Jaxon Smith-Njigba was the most talented receiver on the team last year and Smith-Njigba backed that up with a 347 yard, three touchdown game in the Rose Bowl. Marvin Harrison Jr is primed for a breakout year after he, too, had three touchdowns in the Rose Bowl. Treyveon Henderson was a sleeper Heisman guy last year so Ohio State will be explosive on offense again in 2022.
The biggest addition Ohio State made this offseason wasn’t on offense and wasn’t a player. The Buckeyes poached defensive coordinator Jim Knowles from Oklahoma State in hopes of bolstering a defense that got pushed around a lot last year. Oklahoma State was fourth in the country in defensive SP+ and third in the country in EPA per play defense. Ohio State’s defense doesn’t have to be on par with Georgia’s 2021 defense to be a Playoff contender, they just need to be a good to very good unit and they’ll be tough to beat.
Ohio State has a tough schedule in 2022, but it does have some advantages. They open the season with a massive home game against Notre Dame for which ESPN has already announced College GameDay will attend. They do have to play Iowa and Wisconsin from the West Division but those games are at home as is the revenge game against Michigan. The toughest road games are at Michigan State, which has been dicey in the past, and Penn State which is traditionally a very tough place to play, but Ohio State should be favored in every game.
I also don’t think there’s going to be Ohio State Heisman fatigue because we haven’t had an Ohio State player win the award since Troy Smith in 2006. Ohio State is a very public team and gets a lot of headlines in college football, but a Buckeye winning the Heisman would actually be a fresh development.
The Case Against Betting On Stroud
Ohio State is going to be favored in every game so that means if they lose games then Stroud’s Heisman chances are going to take a hit, that shouldn’t scare you off too much, but it’s worth considering. The bigger thing working against Stroud is just history. Since 2008 only one preseason favorite has won the Heisman Trophy and that was Marcus Mariota in 2014. Andrew Luck, Deshaun Watson and Tua Tagovailoa were preseason favorites who finished second, but there have also been as many preseason Heisman favorites to finish outside the top ten in Heisman voting as have finished inside the top two in this time period. It’s also entirely possible Young wins it again. The real question is how much value do you find on a +200 favorite to win the Heisman Trophy? There probably isn’t a ton so that’s what you have to weigh.
The Verdict: Not a lot of value, but if you bet it, bet it before the season
It’s a boring pick, but I do see all the reasons why he’s the favorite and if you have to pick one guy to win it he’s an easy choice, but I’m not sure if he’s going to end up in my portfolio simply because like I said above, I don’t know how much value there is in betting him compared to other guys in the field. That said, if you really think he’s going to win it or plan on betting him, bet him before the season. If he has a huge game against Notre Dame in the opener then you are unlikely to get odds better than +200 the rest of the season if he’s going to be a candidate to win the award.