Heisman Watch 2021: Odds and Predictions for All Candidates in Award Race

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistDecember 10, 2021

Heisman Watch 2021: Odds and Predictions for All Candidates in Award Race

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    Championships have been won, the resumes have been completed, and the bowl matchups are set. All that's left to do in the Heisman race is tabulate the votes and find out who will be the next member of one of college football's most prestigious clubs. 

    This year's race featured plenty of twists and turns. Some of the favorites from the beginning of the season failed to even keep their job (see Rattler, Spencer) and some just didn't quite live up to expectations. Contenders rose and fell throughout the season, and a clear favorite didn't truly emerge until the final week. 

    That's when Bryce Young took a commanding lead with a huge performance against the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship game. 

    Now he's your odds-on favorite to walk away with the trophy in his sophomore campaign. 

    Here's a look at the complete odds for the contenders and a prediction as to how the top four will ultimately shake out.  

2021 Heisman Odds

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    QB Bryce Young, Alabama -4000

    QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio State +3000

    QB Kenny Pickett, Pitt +3000

    DE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan N/A

    Odds via Oddschecker

Winner: QB Bryce Young, Alabama

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    There's a reason the odds for the Heisman have been taken down from most sportsbooks, and Bryce Young is a massive favorite from those that still have them.

    He checks all the boxes. 

    The Alabama gunslinger has operated the Alabama offense with deadly proficiency. He's thrown for 4,322 yards with 43 touchdowns while throwing just four interceptions. The sophomore has put his team in a position to win every game this year, never throwing multiple picks in one game. 

    Prolific passing stats on one of the best teams in the country with at least one Heisman moment is a rock-solid path to winning the prestigious award. Young has the stats, and the Crimson Tide are rolling into the College Football Playoff as the top seed. 

    Add in the fact that he ended the year by posting 421 passing yards and three touchdowns to no interceptions against the best defense in the country in Georgia and the voters don't have a difficult choice to make. 

Second Place: DE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan

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    It's rare that a defensive player even gets an invite to New York, let alone finish as the runner-up. That hasn't happened since 2012, when Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o finished just over 300 points behind Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. 

    The last defender to be invited to New York was Chase Young, who finished fourth in 2019.

    Aidan Hutchinson has already broken that barrier. Now it's just a question of where he will finish in the voting. 

    He certainly has the numbers to have a strong finish in the voting. He's third in the country with 14 sacks, was PFF's highest-graded defender in college football and had 15.5 tackles for loss. 

    He also had a well-timed Heisman performance when he dominated against Ohio State. He had three sacks and registered an astounding 15 quarterback pressures, playing a pivotal role in the Wolverines beating the Buckeyes for the first time in a decade. 

    Hutchinson isn't going to win the award. Will Anderson of Alabama has better counting stats as an edge defender, but Hutchinson's role on a defense that helped take Michigan to its first playoff berth could be enough to get him the rare second-place finish for a defensive player. 

Third Place: QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio State

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    Heading into the final week of the regular season, there was a real debate to be had between C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young. Both were the trigger men of explosive offenses that appeared to be on their way to a playoff berth. 

    Stroud's raw numbers are comparable to Young's. He has the second-highest quarterback rating in the country and is fourth in yards per game. 

    Even in Ohio State's losses, the freshman has posted good numbers. In defeats to Oregon and Michigan, he threw for 878 yards with five touchdowns and one interception while completing 67 percent of his passes. 

    The problem for Stroud is that, like it or not, the Heisman award generally takes team success into account. By Ohio State standards, this year's squad doesn't measure up. The loss to Michigan and the fact they weren't in the Big Ten Championship Game is likely to put a damper on Stroud's appeal to the voters. 

    There's also the considerable talent in the Ohio State receiving corps. Stroud was throwing to the No. 11 and No. 13 overall prospects on Bleacher Report's NFL draft big board in Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, respectively. Sophomore Jaxon Smith-Njigba actually led the team in receiving and would likely be a top prospect if he were draft-eligible. 

    So how much credit Stoud will get for the success of the passing game from the voter's perspective could depend on who is doing the voting. 

Fourth Place: QB Kenny Pickett, Pitt

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    Kenny Pickett's invite to New York is well-deserved.

    Unlike Young and Stroud, there is no question about who makes the Pitt offense go. Pitt isn't exactly known for putting explosive offenses on the field, yet the Panthers ranked third in points per game. 

    Pickett's numbers are comparable to his counterparts at Ohio State and Alabama. He threw for 4,319 yards and 42 touchdowns with seven interceptions. That's more turnovers than Stroud and Young, but that can be chalked up as a byproduct of having considerably more attempts than both Stroud and Young. 

    The problem for Pickett is that it's become rare for quarterbacks from a non-blueblood program to finish well in the Heisman voting. The last quarterback from the ACC to win the award was Lamar Jackson in 2016, the Cardinals finished the season 9-4 but Jackson's eye-popping numbers were too hard to ignore. 

    Pickett doesn't have the rushing numbers and ability of Jackson. He added five touchdowns on the ground but had only 233 yards. 

    Pickett's college career is likely to get validated in the first round of the NFL draft, but it's unlikely he's going to be hoisting the Heisman. 

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