I don't want to say that I told you so, but I told you so: a big game last week by Marcus Mariota has made him the new Heisman Trophy betting favorite at sportsbooks like 5Dimes.com. Let's look at the site's updated odds following Week 2.
First Ducks Heisman Winner?
In what probably will be the biggest non-conference game that we will see during the 2014 regular season, Mariota led Oregon back from a 27-18 third-quarter deficit at home against Michigan State as the Ducks would score the final 28 points in making a huge statement about their College Football Playoff chances. The Ducks are now even money to make it. Mariota was an efficient 17 of 28 for three touchdowns while also rushing for 42 yards against one of the nation's best defenses. Mariota's 69 career passing TDs moved him past Darron Thomas (66) for No. 1 all time at Oregon, and his 8,479 yards of total offense passed Bill Musgrave (8,140) for the most in school history.
Mariota was slightly behind Florida State's Jameis Winston on last week's Heisman odds but is now the +550 favorite along with Georgia running back Todd Gurley. Mariota probably won't get another huge boost until the Ducks visit No. 11 UCLA on Oct. 11. However, he should continue putting up big numbers the next three games vs. Wyoming, at Washington State and vs. Arizona.
Gurley's Dawgs were off last week. He rushed 15 times for 198 yards and three scores in the season-opening rout of Clemson. He also brought back a kickoff 100 yards for a score. I can promise you one thing right now: As long as Gurley doesn't get hurt, he will be a Top-15 pick in next year's draft. Of course back in May, there wasn't a single running back chosen in the first round. They are being minimized in the NFL, but Gurley is a whole different animal. He has a chance to temporarily take over the Heisman betting lead this week with a big game at South Carolina. if Georgia wins that, it controls the SEC East Division.
Heisman odds for Winston are at 6.5 to 1 (or +650). He and his Seminoles teammates looked rather disinterested in last week's 37-12 win over The Citadel. And now we are hearing that FSU is finally investigating that reported sexual assault that the district attorney chose not to prosecute. I highly, highly doubt Winston will be suspended or anything but it's not impossible. That would kill his Heisman hopes. Some people probably won't vote for him regardless -- a decent amount didn't last year when that story broke.
The guy I am now really keeping an eye on is Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson, who has jumped up to +1800 to win the Heisman. Golson led the Irish to the BCS Championship Game in 2012 before having to sit out all of last season after he was booted from school for alleged academic cheating. He hasn't missed a beat. Golson threw for two touchdowns and ran for three more vs. Rice in the opener. OK, that's Rice. In Saturday's pretty shocking 31-0 win over Michigan, Golson was a very good 23 of 34 for 226 yards and three touchdowns. He still hasn't turned the ball over.
Notre Dame is still a national brand. Any excellent Irish player is going to get some Heisman love from voters all over the country simply because it's Notre Dame. And if Golson can navigate a very tough season and lead the Irish into the playoff, he's getting a trip to New York at the worst. I believe Notre Dame could lose one game and still make it, as long as it's to one of the powerhouses on the schedule like Florida State or USC -- those are both road games, and the Irish will be clear underdogs in both. They will spank Purdue, maybe the worst Power 5 school out there right now, this weekend in Indianapolis.
College Football Pick: It's still Mariota's to lose, but expect to see Gurley as the slight new favorite if he has a big game vs. USC and the Dawgs win.