Has anyone gone from potential backup quarterback to Heisman Trophy favorite previously after the opening week of CFB? That's what has happened with Ohio State's Cardale Jones on Bovada's odds.
It's All About Ohio State Right Now
I'll be honest, I had been following Ohio State's camp quite closely. And pretty much without fail, the beat writer guys up in Columbus thought Coach Urban Meyer was going to start J.T. Barrett over Jones for Monday night's game at Virginia Tech. After all, Barrett beat out Jones to replace the injured Braxton Miller last summer and Barrett was nothing short of spectacular in 2014 before suffering a season-ending ankle injury in the regular-season finale vs. Michigan. Jones was very good in his place in upsets of Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon to win the national title.
Apparently neither Jones nor Barrett themselves even knew who would start against the Hokies until after Virginia Tech punted on the first possession of the game. Here's what Jones said: "Honestly, we both went out in the huddle with the first play. We didn't know. I was taking a couple steps to the sideline, and [Meyer] was like, 'No, you're in.' When you found out, I found out."
Jones played all of the meaningful minutes on Monday. And you can see why NFL scouts are drooling about the 6-foot-5, 250-pound junior with the cannon arm. He was 9-for-18 for 186 yards, two touchdowns and interception in the 42-24 win over the Hokies and rushed 13 times for 99 yards and touchdown. And now Jones is your +700 Heisman favorite at Bovada.
Barrett played in the fourth quarter when the game was in hand and was 1-for-1 for 26 yards with a touchdown and rushed once for 40 yards. He has dropped to +2500. The co-second-favorite to Jones is Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott (+900), who only had 11 carries for 122 yards but did have an 80-yard touchdown run.
Frankly, the most impressive Buckeye in my mind was Miller, the former starting quarterback and two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. He is now playing a receiver/H-back/occasional Wildcat quarterback role. Miller rushed six times for 62 yards, including an amazing 53-yard touchdown that included a stunning spin move at full speed and blew up the Internet. Miller, who is +1600 on Heisman futures odds, also caught two passes, including a 54-yard touchdown. It's almost not fair that OSU has this much talent. The Buckeyes will steamroll Hawaii this week so I'm sure Jones and Elliott will remain at the top of the odds.
Other Top Names
TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin is +900 with Elliott. I wasn't a big fan of Boykin winning this award back in August as I thought the Horned Frogs were overrated. They looked like it Saturday in beating Minnesota just 23-17. Boykin wasn't all that sharp, completing 26-for-42 for 246 yards with a TD and pick and rushing for 92 yards and a score. Solid numbers, don't get me wrong, but if you watched the game he missed on several throws, including two likely touchdowns. Boykin could have a huge game this weekend against Stephen F. Austin.
One interesting name that moved way up this list is UCLA true freshman quarterback Josh Rosen, who is +1400. He had an immensely impressive debut in a 34-16 win over Virginia. He was 28-for-35 with three touchdowns and no picks. The first true freshman quarterback to start an opener in UCLA history, his yards passing were the most by a Bruins quarterback making his first start in at least 20 years. It reminded me of what redshirt freshman Jameis Winston of Florida State did in his collegiate starting debut in 2013 in a win over Pittsburgh. Of course Winston would win the Heisman that year. A true freshman has never won the Heisman. Rosen shouldn't have much trouble this week at UNLV.
Finally, one guy who could really make a jump this week is Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook, who is +2500. He threw for 256 yards and two touchdowns in an opening win over Western Michigan, but his No. 5 Spartans are in the highlight game of Week 2 against No. 7 Oregon on Saturday night in East Lansing. A big game from Cook and MSU win will certainly shorten his Heisman odds considerably.
NCAAF Free Pick: Too early really, but right now Miller +3300 at Bovada has the most buzz.