Could UCF’s McKenzie Milton Win Heisman at a Non-Power 5 School?

Matthew Jordan

Monday, February 12, 2018 2:03 PM UTC

Monday, Feb. 12, 2018 2:03 PM UTC

One of the top returning quarterbacks in college football next season is Central Florida’s McKenzie Milton. Could he upset the establishment by winning a Heisman Trophy?

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Good luck winning a Heisman Trophy if you play at a non-Power 5 conference school. The last winner from one was BYU quarterback Ty Detmer in 1990. Might that change in the 2018 season?

I wouldn’t call it likely, but if it does it probably will be by Central Florida quarterback McKenzie Milton. He’s +3500 on the Heisman futures odds at 5Dimes. The site has a few dozen betting options and the only other players from non-Power 5 schools are Milton’s teammate, running back Adrian Killins (+15000), Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver (+6600), SMU quarterback Ben Hicks (+15000) and Navy quarterback Malcolm Perry (+30000 long shot). All of those schools are in the American Athletic Conference.

AAC champion Central Florida was the only school in the country to finish unbeaten this past season and declared itself a national champion. UCF paid its coaches bonuses for winning a national title, even if it was mythical. The school held a parade and Florida governor Rick Scott proclaimed the Knights as national champions. They beat the team that beat Alabama in the regular season, taking out Auburn 34-27 in a Peach Bowl upset. UCF was +10.5 in that game and was the biggest underdog to win a bowl game this past season.

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Rain or shine, the Champs are in the 🏡!

Thank you, @NFL#ProBowl

— 2017 National Champions (@UCF_Football) January 28, 2018

Milton, a Hawaii native (like Marcus Mariota, the first Hawaiian-born winner of the Heisman), was one of college football’s breakout stars in his sophomore season. He set several school records in throwing for 4,037 yards and 37 touchdowns and rushing for 613 yards and eight more scores. Against that excellent Auburn defense, he passed for 242 yards and two scores and rushed for a season-high 116 yards and a TD in being named the game’s offensive MVP. Milton was very deservedly named the American Athletic Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year. UCF led the nation in averaging 48.2 points per game, and Milton was second nationally to Heisman winner Bakery Mayfield in passer efficiency.

The Heisman is obviously a popularity contest so it’s tough for schools outside the Power 5 to draw eyeballs of voters. Milton also lost his head coach, Scott Frost, who took the Nebraska job. Frost designed plays to utilize Milton’s running ability as he finished second on the team in rushing behind Killins.

Frost has been replaced by another former Big 12 quarterback in Josh Heupel. He was the offensive coordinator at Missouri the past two seasons and before that helped Sam Bradford win a Heisman Trophy as offensive coordinator at Oklahoma. Heupel won the Archie Griffin Award in 2000 while playing for Oklahoma and Milton was the 2017 winner of that award.

One thing Milton will have working in his favor is that UCF certainly will be ranked in the preseason polls – it finished sixth in the final AP Top 25 and got six first-place votes. He gets two chances to impress against Power 5 schools as Central Florida visits North Carolina on Sept. 15 and hosts Pittsburgh on Sept. 29. Realistically, UCF would have to run the table in the regular season again for Milton to have any shot at the Heisman. The Knights are +8500 to win the national title at 5Dimes.

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