We have our list of finalists for the Heisman Trophy presentation in New York City on Saturday night and a group of five is led by heavy betting favorite Lamar Jackson of Louisville, who is -4000 on BetOnline college football odds.
I don't think there's going to be much drama on ESPN Saturday as it would be stunning if Jackson didn't become Louisville's first-ever Heisman winner. Jackson was named the ACC Player of the Year and is No. 2 nationally in total offense, averaging 410.7 yards per game, and he set the ACC touchdown record with 51 (30 passing, 21 rushing). His 1,538 yards rushing are a school single-season record for any position and an ACC record for a QB while ranking No. 8 nationally. His 3,390 passing yards are No. 12 nationally. Jackson is the first player in FBS history with 3,300 yards passing and 1,500 yards rushing.
Jackson might have won by a record margin of votes if Louisville didn't lose its final two games of the season in upsets at Houston and home to Kentucky -- those cost the Cardinals a spot in a New Year's Six bowl game. Jackson wasn't quite as dominant in the losses. He completed a season-worst 46.5 percent of his throws in the Houston loss for 211 yards and just one TD while rushing for a season-worst 33 yards. A big part of that total was Jackson getting sacked a whopping 11 times. Against Kentucky, Jackson threw for 281 yards and two scores and rushed for 171 yards and two more TDs but had four turnovers, including three interceptions. Jackson next faces a great LSU defense in the Citrus Bowl on New Year's Eve, with the Cardinals as 3.5-point underdogs on college football odds. Jackson will be back at Louisville next year with a chance to repeat as the Heisman winner.
Last year, just three players were invited to New York: Alabama running back Derrick Henry, who won the Heisman, Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey, who was second, and Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, who was third.
Watson is the only returning finalist. He was an early-season betting favorite on college football odds along with McCaffrey and LSU running back Leonard Fournette. Watson is also a finalist for nearly every other award he can win. He has thrown for 3,627 yards and 34 touchdowns. He is the only FBS player to throw for at least 318 yards a game, throw at least 28 TDs and complete 69 percent of his passes against Power 5 schools this year. Watson's Tigers are in the College Football Playoff against Ohio State. Watson already has said he's turning pro after this season. Watson is the +1000 second-favorite on college football picks.
The other finalists are Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield, who was fourth in last year's voting, teammate and receiver Dede Westbrook, and Michigan defensive back/hybrid Jabrill Peppers. Mayfield is listed at +3300 and Peppers at +5000. Westbrook isn't given odds. Mayfield plans to return to school next year, while Westbrook is a senior and Peppers is expected to declare for the draft.
Jackson is going to win, with Watson second, Peppers third, Mayfield fourth again and Westbrook fifth.