Heisman Trophy Watch 2011: Updated Odds of Winning for the Top Candidates

Stix SymmondsCorrespondent IDecember 3, 2011

Heisman Trophy Watch 2011: Updated Odds of Winning for the Top Candidates

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    The Heisman Trophy chase is all but over. As I write this, the final games of the 2011 regular season are being played across America and the candidates for the most prestigious individual award are putting their final touches on the body of work that will stand as their evidence for worthiness.

    This year's class has been largely dominated by quarterbacks. Stanford's Andrew Luck has been at the forefront of the discussion since the season began, as has Boise State's Kellen Moore.

    Baylor's Robert Griffin III stormed onto the scene early this season and has so enthralled the fans that he's moved his way firmly into the discussion. Houston's Case Keenum—despite playing in a non-automatic qualifying conference—has put up such strong numbers that he's had his name thrown into the mix.

    That's not to mention Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden. 

    There are a couple of running backs in the mix. Alabama's Trent Richardson has led that charge, though Wisconsin's Montee Ball has arguably had the better season. He too is getting some attention now that his body of work has become better understood.

    A few others have their names added to the mix, depending on which "expert" you listen to.

    What are the odds for the top contenders to take home the hardware? Let's break down their seasons and try to figure out who has the best shot at the most coveted trophy in college football

RB Trent Richardson, Alabama

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    Last Game: 27 carries, 203 yards, 7.5 average, 0 TD, 1 reception, 5 yards, 1 TD, 1 catch, 5 yards, 1 TD

    Season Stats: 263 carries, 1583 yards, 6.0 average, 20 TD, 27 receptions, 327 yards, 3 TD, 27 catches, 327 yards, 3 TD

    Odds of winning the Heisman: 1.5:1

    Richardson has had a great season. His final performance of the 2011 season was a strong statement, running for over 200 yards against Auburn.

    If anyone is going to unseat a quarterback as the Heisman winner, Richardson is probably that guy. He's a powerful runner with great moves and has been a workhorse for the Crimson Tide.

    There's nothing in particular about his season that would be considered a negative. If he doesn't win, it will be less about what he did and more about the flashier performances of the quarterbacks on the list.

    He plays for a team that could be playing in the National Title Game and has had as much exposure as anyone in the nation.

    Having said all of that, Montee Ball might actually be the best running back of the year. Richardson is more recognized as a Heisman leader though, and will have the best shot at taking the trophy away from the gun-slingers.

QB Andrew Luck, Stanford

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    Last Game: 30 attempts, 20 completions, 233 yards, 66.7 percent, 4 TD, 1 INT

    Season Stats: 373 attempts, 261 completions, 3,170 yards, 70.0 percent, 35 TD, 9 INT

    Odds of winning the Heisman: 1.75:1

    Andrew Luck is right there with Richardson in the chase for the Heisman. His completion percentage is terrific and his touchdown-to-interception ratio is fantastic.

    What's more, his leadership on his 11-1 team is undeniable. Luck is the heart and soul of this team and does so much more than just relay what the coaches tell him to do. He's a field general at the college level and it's something fairly rare.

    The loss to Oregon could hurt Luck a little, though. In that contest, he completed 65 percent of his passes, but gave up two interceptions along the way.

    It's really a neck-and-neck race with Richardson. Who will the voters like more?

    Right, wrong or otherwise, the fact that Alabama could be in the National Championship Game could sway the vote in Richardson's favor.

RB Montee Ball, Wisconsin

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    Last Game: 25 carries, 156 yards, 6.24 average, 4 TD, 1 catch, 15 yards

    Season Stats: 248 carries, 1,622 yards, 6.54 average, 29 TD, 17 catches, 248 yards, 5 TD

    Odds of winning the Heisman: 2:1

    Compare those stats to Trent Richardson's. Ball has actually had a better campaign than Richardson and there could be an argument that the run defenses he has faced are better than those Richardson has faced.

    So, why isn't he higher on the list?

    Maybe he should be. He's stormed into the discussion a little late in the season, though. Richardson has been in the thick of the hunt all year long. Ball has only been truly mentioned as a front-runner in the last few weeks.

    Besides, the name "Alabama" carries a little more weight than "Wisconsin." Hey, I've said many times that the Heisman voting isn't necessarily fair.

    Still, when his numbers are stacked up against the others on the list, there's a good chance Ball could steal away the trophy and leave the others scratching their heads.

    His performance in the Big Ten Championship Game against Michigan State could make or break the entire campaign.

QB Robert Griffin III, Baylor

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    Last Game: 22 attempts, 15 completions, 68.2 percent, 320 yards, 2 TD, 1 Int, 12 carries, 32 yards, 2.67 average, 2 TD

    Season Stats: 369 attempts, 267 completions, 72.4 percent, 3998 yards, 36 TD, 6 Int, 161 carries, 644 yards, 4.0 average, 9 TD

    Odds of winning the Heisman: 3:1

    It's hard to argue with Griffin's numbers. It's even harder to argue against what he means to this team. He's as flashy as they come and finds ways to make magic with the football.

    Is he better than Luck? I'm sure Baylor fans think so, and I'm on the fence about it. He can do more than Luck can just with what he does with his legs.

    However, back-to-back losses against Texas A&M and Oklahoma State weren't just losses—they were blowout losses. Fair or not, that will weigh on the voters a little.

    His team has been a little bit inconsistent and he wasn't able to overcome that.

    He's still a solid choice, but don't be surprised if he's edged out by Luck, Richardson and Ball.

QB Matt Barkley, USC

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    Last Game: 42 attempts, 35 completions, 83.3 percent, 423 yards, 6 TD, 0 INT

    Season Stats: 446 attempts, 308 completions, 69.1 percent, 3528 yards, 39 TD, 7 INT

    Odds of winning the Heisman: 5:1

    Barkley was largely forgotten coming into the year. Of course, why would he have even been considered? His 2010 stats weren't bad, but weren't Heisman-worthy either.

    Plus, USC has been out of a lot of discussions thanks to the sanctions they're still dealing with that keeps them out of postseason play.

    However, Barkley has had a tremendous year and his numbers are comparable to just about anyone else's. That touchdown-to-interception ratio is phenomenal, and he's been a real leader on this USC team.

    On the flip side, are those numbers that much better than Luck's or Griffin's? Not really. His six-touchdown performance against UCLA was impressive, but that's UCLA we're talking about.

    He's in the top five of ESPN's Heisman watch-list, as well as CBSSports'. Expect him to be in the top five of the final voting as well, but don't expect him to win.

QB Kellen Moore, Boise State

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    Last Game: (as of 15:00 to go 3rd Qtr vs. New Mexico) 24 attempts, 20 completions, 83.3 percent, 208 yards, 3 TD 0 Int

    Season Stats: (as of same time) 397 attempts, 292 completions, 73.6 percent, 3402 yards, 41 TD, 7 Int

    Odds of winning the Heisman: 10:1

    No one can argue the career Moore has had. He's been a tremendous leader for a very good Boise State team.

    To honor that career, he's been in the thick of the Heisman discussion all year long.

    However, as other teams' competition has heated up, Moore's Broncos have not enjoyed the same level of competition and the team became stagnant in every aspect. The 36-35 loss to TCU hurt tremendously, and a couple of merely "good" performances have seen Moore drop on most lists.

    He's outside the top five on ESPN's list and CBS' as well. While they're not the be-all, end-all of Heisman polls, I think it's an indicator of where Moore's Heisman hopes have been heading. That would be down.

QB Case Keenum, Houston

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    Last Game: 67 attempts, 41 completions, 61.2 percent, 373 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT

    Season Stats: 534 attempts, 383 completions, 71.7 percent, 5099 yards, 45 TD, 5 INT

    Odds of winning the Heisman: 15:1

    The stats are ridiculous. Keenum has put up the kinds of numbers that are typically reserved for video-game superstars.

    Unfortunately for Keenum, against the best defense he faced this year (Southern Miss in the C-USA Championship Game), he was 1:1 in touchdowns to interceptions. Oh yeah, and his Cougars team was blasted 49-28.

    It will be strongly argued that Keenum only put up those kinds of numbers because he faced inferior defenses all year long.