The 2021 Heisman Trophy race has been one of the least predictable in the last decade. We break down the updated odds and predict the best bet for the rest of the season.
The turn of the college football calendar to November marks an important milestone. Half the season is over and the season’s biggest games remain on the schedule. The final push towards the playoff will define the top competitors for team and individual accolades.
The 2021 Heisman Trophy race has fascinating names involved. We could see a huge swing in the second half of the season because no one has run away with the award. A number of playmakers will soon have bigger platforms with which to make their cases.
We’ll continue tracking the odd changes each week and provide our best bet until the end of the season. Consider putting a partial unit on a long shot that could bring a huge return with the right breaks.
Here’s a look at the updated Heisman Trophy odds (Odds via DraftKings; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5-star scale).
- Bryce Young: +160 | Previous odds: +200
- Matt Corral: +280 | +350
- C.J. Stroud: +550 | +1000
- Kenny Pickett: +1200 | +1500
- Caleb Williams: +1400 | +1200
- Kenneth Walker III: +2000 | +2000
- TreVeyon Henderson: +2500 | +4000
- Desmond Ridder: +2800 | +1800
- Brian Robinson Jr.: +3500 | +3500
- Bijan Robinson: +4500 | +3500
- Sam Hartman: +6000 | +7000
- Brennan Armstrong: +8000 | +8000
Heisman Trophy Favorites Moving Up
C.J. Stroud, Ohio State (+550)
I was out on Stroud after Week 3, but it turns out his right shoulder was more damaged than anyone knew. The freshman returned to the field after resting for one week and has been dominant since. He’s throwing with more accuracy and confidence than we had seen against Oregon or Minnesota.
Now completing almost 68% of passes for 1,965 yards, 22 touchdowns, and three picks, Stroud has a huge opportunity in front of him that could see everyone jump on his bandwagon. Battles against Penn State, Michigan State, and Michigan loom large. Stroud may easily win the award if he continues at a similar pace and guides the Buckeyes to a playoff appearance.
Sam Hartman, Wake Forest (+6000)
Not only is Hartman putting up monstrous numbers for Wake Forest, but he has a wonderful, tear-jerking background story, one that may be worthy of a Heisman Trophy itself.
He’s completed 65% of his throws for 2,073 yards and 19 scores thus far. His toughest task will be guiding the 7-0 Demon Deacons to an undefeated regular season and hoping Stroud stumbles. It’s surprising his odds are this low considering the field lacks significantly better options.
Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State (+2000)
It’s rare for backs to win the Heisman in the modern era, but 2021 might be the right time. There are a couple of excellent producers at the position, including CFB’s third-leading rusher, Kenneth Walker III. He’s been a huge part of Michigan State’s resurgence in 2021 as they sit 7-0.
Walker answered the call against solid foes Northwestern and Miami with 436 yards and five total scores. He’s yet to face Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State, but great performances to close out the year could swing odds in his favor. I’d consider him to be a solid long-shot value.
Heisman Trophy Favorites Moving Down
Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati (+2800)
I put Ridder in this category despite the fact Cincinnati is likely to win out after beating Indiana and Notre Dame. Ridder is flawed, with inconsistent accuracy and a strange tendency to disappear at times. But his opportunity and story propel him higher than his peers as the playoff race is also wide open.
Ridder needs to catch fire and average three or more total touchdowns every week from here on out. With Young and Corral on blazing pace against better competition, voters need to see exciting plays and big stat lines from the senior passer. I won’t be betting on Ridder, but I like the Bearcats to fight for a playoff seed.
Caleb Williams, Oklahoma (+1400)
Williams has drawn praise for how much of a gamer he’s been for Oklahoma. But the former backup has played sparingly and is well behind his peers in terms of body of work. He has no chance at winning the Heisman simply based on his lack of full-time status until this past week.
Bijan Robinson, Texas (+4500)
Robinson, the best overall player in the nation, is simply the victim of a mediocre program and suppressed position. Robinson has 1,131 total yards and 13 scores, but the Longhorns have been in the news for blowing leads more than producing an All-American and possible top-five NFL draft pick in 2023. Save your money and avoid betting on this star.
Heisman Trophy Best Bet
Kenny Pickett, Pitt (+1200) ★
A rising star as a fifth-year passer for Pitt, Pickett has completely changed the way he’s viewed. The Panthers’ new offense has allowed Pickett to nearly double his career-high for touchdowns in one season. He’s completing almost 69% of his passes for 2,236 yards and 23 touchdowns despite being a middling passer until this year.
At 6-1, Pitt has a good shot at running the table and winning the ACC. They could even face off against Wake Forest and give Pickett and Hartman the opportunity to play in a Heisman contender eliminator. This is good value for Pickett as his odds will likely rise in coming weeks.
Picks made 10/25/2021 at 6:30 p.m. ET