Heisman Trophy odds: USC’s Williams overtakes Ohio State’s Stroud
Following his monster game against UCLA, the Trojans’ signal caller is now the odds-on favorite to win college football’s biggest award
And then there were two — and by that we mean weeks remaining in the 2022-23 college football regular season and legitimate candidates remaining on the Heisman Trophy odds board.
After one of the top contenders sustained a season-ending knee injury in a stunning blowout loss last week and another contender came up lame in a narrow victory at home, the Heisman Trophy race is now effectively a two-man battle.
Both leading candidates are quarterbacks for marquee programs that are in the national championship hunt. But only one of the two is the odds-on favorite to take home college football’s most coveted individual honor.
It’s a favorite who in the past week has skyrocketed to the front of the pack, bolting past four contenders to the frontrunner position.
Here’s an updated look at Heisman Trophy odds heading into Week 13, also known as “Rivalry Week.”
Note: Odds updated as of 5 a.m. ET on Nov. 22.
Heisman Trophy odds
As you can see, only eight players remain on BetMGM’s Heisman Trophy odds board.
And as you can see, one name that had been on that board for weeks is missing. That name: Hendon Hooker, the electrifying quarterback from Tennessee.
Hooker went into last week’s game at South Carolina as the +300 second choice behind Ohio State frontrunner C.J. Stroud. However, Hooker suffered a season-ending ACL injury in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s eventual 63-38 loss to the Gamecocks.
Hooker was 25-for-42 for 247 yards and three touchdowns when his knee gave out. After word officially came down that he was done for the season, Hooker’s Heisman hopes vanished.
At the same time, Stroud — who had been the leading the Heisman race for most of the season — became the odds-on favorite at BetMGM, going from +130 last week to -130 as of early Monday. However, by Monday night, Stroud had ceded his position at the top of the Heisman Trophy odds hierarchy to USC quarterback Caleb Williams.
Now, Williams — who was the +1100 fifth choice at BetMGM just a week ago — is the -125 favorite, with Stroud moving down a peg to +110.
It was a surprising game of leapfrog, seeing that the Buckeyes (11-0) remain undefeated and ranked No. 2 in the most recent College Football Playoff poll (and will remain there when this week’s poll is revealed Tuesday).
Meanwhile, USC (10-1) was No. 5 in the rankings and likely won’t budge this week.
So what led to Monday’s sudden flip-flop between Williams and Stroud in the Heisman Trophy betting market? Exactly what you would assume: on-field field performance.
Williams has been posting video game-like numbers for more than a month, while Stroud’s production has dipped considerably in two of his last three games.
A new leader emerges in USC’s Caleb Williams
More than 500 total yards and three total touchdowns — that’s what Williams delivered for USC in last Saturday’s thrilling (and season-saving) 48-45 victory at archrival UCLA.
The sophomore who transferred to USC after a strong freshman campaign at Oklahoma has passed 1,890 yards and 19 touchdowns versus just two interceptions in his last five games. For the season, he’s completing 65% of his throws for 3,480 yards and 33 touchdowns against just three interceptions.
Stroud has compiled similar numbers for Ohio State — 66.4% completion rate, 2,991 passing yards, 35 touchdowns and four interceptions. However, the Ohio State sophomore has been mediocre in two of his last three games.
Back on Nov. 5, he went 10-for-26 for a career-low 76 yards at Northwestern, albeit in terrible weather conditions. Then last week at Maryland, Stroud was more pedestrian than Heisman-like, going 18-for-30 for 241 yards and one touchdown.
While the Buckeyes got out of Maryland with a 43-30 victory, they led just 33-30 with under a minute to play despite being a 26.5-point favorite.
That result, Stroud’s average play and Williams’ superhuman effort against UCLA all played a part in betting market pushing Williams to the front of the Heisman pack.
Down the stretch they come
The good news for Stroud: He can zoom past Williams and reclaim his perch atop the Heisman Trophy betting board with a strong performance Saturday against fellow unbeaten and No. 3 Michigan.
Stroud will be looking to avenge the Buckeyes’ shocking 42-27 upset loss in Ann Arbor last year. In that defeat, the quarterback threw for 394 yards and two touchdowns (with no interceptions), but he was sacked four times.
This season, he’ll be facing a Wolverines defense that ranks No. 1 in the nation in total yards allowed (241.3 game allowed) and No. 2 in points allowed (11.7 per game). In fact, no opponent has scored more than 20 points against Michigan this season.
If Ohio State takes care of business as a 7.5-point home favorite Saturday, Stroud will get another chance to sway both the betting market and Heisman voters in the Big Ten championship game Dec. 3.
As for Williams, he closes the season with Notre Dame (at home on Saturday), followed by the Pac-12 championship game (probably against Oregon).
Like Stroud, Williams will have to navigate one of college football’s top defenses in Week 13. Notre Dame, which has won five straight games and eight of nine since starting out 0-2, fields the nation’s 17th-ranked defense.
The Fighting Irish have held five of their last seven opponents to 21 points or fewer, including last week’s 44-0 home shutout of Boston College.
If Williams can solve Notre Dame’s defense and lead USC to its fifth straight win, he likely will remain the Heisman favorite heading into championship weekend — no matter what Stroud does. However, if Williams and/or the Trojans stumble, Stroud could easily regain his status as the Heisman favorite.
In other words, both players still have an opportunity to hoist the hardware Dec. 10 in New York City — which is more than you can say for pretty much every other Heisman hopeful.
Who else has a Hesiman chance?
Besides Stroud and Williams, the only other candidate with somewhat reasonable Heisman Trophy odds is Michigan’s Blake Corum, who now sits at +2000 — nearly double what his odds were early Monday (+1100).
The junior running back has had a phenomenal season with 1,457 rushing yards (third in the nation) and 18 touchdowns (tied for second). But he injured his knee late in the second quarter of Michigan’s last-second home victory over Illinois on Saturday and only played one snap in the second half.
As such, Corum’s status for this week’s showdown at Ohio State is in question. If he plays, runs all over Ohio State’s 15th-ranked rushing defense and the Wolverines spring the upset as a 7.5-point road underdog, Corum’s Heisman hopes will remain alive.
If Corum can’t go or is ineffective? He’ll have as good a chance to overtake Williams and Stroud as you do.
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