We have new leader on Sportsbook.ag's Heisman Trophy NCAA football odds, but it's really an old leader. After falling out of the favored role for a couple of weeks, Oregon's Marcus Mariota is back on top, currently priced at -200.
It's Mariota's Award to Lose
Mariota was my guy back in August at sportsbooks, and I see no reason why he shouldn't win this award. As expected, Mariota had a monster game in Week 9 against a pitiful California defense. I thought he would throw four touchdown passes and run one in. Well he threw five along with 326 yards. He didn't get a rushing score but did add 36 yards on the ground. The Ducks have looked like a different team since the loss to Arizona.
However, Oregon's nemesis the past two seasons has been Stanford and that's the opponent in Week 10. Oregon opened as a 9.5-point home favorite at sportsbooks. The Cardinal are the polar opposite of Oregon in that Stanford is an old-school team in terms of using brute force and a conservative game plan. The Cardinal have beaten Oregon each of the past two years and totally slowed that up-tempo Ducks offense. While Stanford has been moderately disappointing this year at 5-3, it still has one of the nation's best defenses.
In 2012, the Ducks lost 17-14 in overtime at home to Stanford, their only loss that year. Mariota was 21 of 37 for 207 yards with one TD and a pick. He rushed 12 times for 89 yards. Last season, Mariota was battered all night in a 26-20 loss in Palo Alto. Mariota was 20 of 34 for 250 yards and two TDs. He rushed six times for minus-16 yards. All of Oregon's points came in the fourth quarter. The game really wasn't that close.
Prescott Avoids Serious Injury
Mississippi State remains the No. 1 team in the polls, and quarterback Dak Prescott is the +225 second favorite on NCAA football odds. The Bulldogs played in a potential trap game in Week 9 at Kentucky but escaped with a 45-31 win. Prescott was 18 of 33 for 216 yards, a touchdown and a pick. He rushed 18 times for 88 yards and two touchdowns. Prescott became the fourth player from a Power 5 Conference in the past 10 years to be responsible for three touchdowns in each of his first seven games of the season. Mariota did that in 2013. Prescott was seen wearing a walking boot on his left foot after the game but it's reportedly not a major injury.
Mississippi State has a potentially tricky game this week at home against improved (albeit winless in SEC) Arkansas. The Bulldogs are 15.5-point favorites on NCAA football odds at sportsbooks. Last year MSU won 24-17 in overtime at Arkansas. Prescott didn't play in that one due to injury.
The only other player under +1000 on NCAA football odds is Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon at +800. He rushed 22 times for 122 yards and three touchdowns against Maryland on Saturday. Gordon has been held under 122 yards in just one game. Gordon's 1,168 yards are No. 4 in the nation. He's not even the leading rusher in the Big Ten. Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah (+2000) is. The Badgers are 11-point favorites at sportsbooks this week at Rutgers.
A receiver hasn't won the Heisman since Michigan's Desmond Howard in 1991. Alabama's Amari Cooper is one of just two receivers on this NCAA football prop (West Virginia's Kevin White is the +6000 long shot) and Cooper is +1500 with Auburn's Nick Marshall. Cooper is second nationally with 1,132 yards receiving. He had a school-record 224 yards in Saturday's 34-20 Tide win at Tennessee. A few more games like that and Cooper might have a Heisman chance with big matchups vs. LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn upcoming.
NCAAF free pick: If Mariota can put up big numbers on Stanford, his lead should only increase and the price get shorter on NCAA football odds. He remains the college football pick. If the Ducks somehow lose to the Cardinal again, Mariota's not going to win the Heisman.