Heisman Trophy Odds & Best Bets

Doug Bonjour
@DougBonjour
Last Updated: Oct 26, 2023

The race for the Heisman Trophy has centered on USC’s Caleb Williams for most of the season. He opened this season as a resounding +550 favorite, bidding to become the first player in almost half a century to win college football’s most coveted award back-to-back years.

Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy is now atop the board, looking to follow in the footsteps of previous Michigan winners Tom Harmon (1940), Desmond Howard (1991) and Charles Woodson (1997).

Can he hold on? Let’s break down the latest Heisman odds and our best bets.

Heisman Trophy Odds 2023

NCAAF betting odds used for these Heisman Trophy predictions are from Thursday, Oct. 26, and courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.

  • J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan (+240)
  • Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington (+320)
  • Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU (+340)
  • Jordan Travis, QB, Florida State (+1100)
  • Dillon Gabriel, QB, Oklahoma (+1100)
  • Bo Nix, QB, Oregon (+1300)
  • Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State (+1600)
  • Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia (+3000)
  • Travis Hunter, WR/CB, Colorado (+3500)
  • Carson Beck, QB, Georgia (+3500)

Heisman Trophy Best Bet

Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington (+320)

Penix Jr. struggled Saturday in a lackluster win over Arizona State, failing to throw a touchdown for only the second time this season. That opened the door for McCarthy to leapfrog him as the Heisman favorite.

Despite that, Penix Jr. will have opportunities to win back some voters with upcoming games against No. 24 USC, No. 13 Utah, and No. 11 Oregon State. He still leads FBS in passing yards (2,576) and is fourth in touchdown passes (20) while ushering fifth-ranked Washington to a 7-0 start.

Heisman Trophy Favorites

J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan (+240)

After opening the season with 25-1 odds, McCarthy has steadily climbed to the top of the board. He threw for 287 yards and four touchdowns in Saturday’s 49-0 rout of rival Michigan State. On top of that, he’s now gone more than 100 attempts since his last interception.

McCarthy doesn’t have gaudy numbers like some other top candidates — he ranks 33rd in the country with 1,799 passing yards — but it’s hard to argue with the results. Michigan is atop the Big Ten at 8-0 and has surpassed Georgia as the national championship favorite at +225.

Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU (+340)

Daniels has gone five straight games with three or more touchdown passes. He’s also surpassed 90 yards rushing in three of the last four.

The stats are there. But the Heisman is a team award as much as an individual award, and LSU already has two losses — through no fault of Daniels.

LSU has a bye before a trip to No. 9 Alabama on Nov. 4. A big performance there could be enough to catapult Daniels atop the board. We’ll have to wait and see.

Heisman Trophy Contenders

Jordan Travis, QB, Florida State (+1100)

Travis is the catalyst behind No. 4 Florida State’s perfect start, having thrown 15 touchdowns compared to just two interceptions. He’s already outplayed Daniels and lifted the Seminoles to big wins over Clemson and Duke.

Florida State should lock up the ACC regular-season title shortly, but the lack of marquee games down the stretch won’t help Travis’ case. The Seminoles close the regular season with five straight games against unranked opponents.

Dillon Gabriel, QB, Oklahoma (+1100)

Gabriel had his Heisman-worthy moment in the Red River Rivalry, engineering a game-winning, 75-yard drive to knock Texas from the ranks of the unbeatens.

He ranks in the top 10 in multiple statistical categories, including completion percentage (.712, ninth) and touchdown passes (19, seventh). Additionally, Oklahoma is 7-0, ranked sixth in the AP poll, and controls its own destiny for the Big 12 title.

Four quarterbacks remain ahead of him, but Gabriel has as good a shot as any to take home the award.

Heisman Trophy Sleepers

Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State (+1600)

Voters traditionally favor quarterbacks. Only two of the previous 13 Heisman winners — Derrick Henry in 2015 and DeVonta Smith in 2020 — played other positions. But there might not be a more dynamic player in all of college football.

Harrison Jr., the son of NFL Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison, has received at least 100 yards in five of the last six games. That includes a huge 11-catch, 162-yard performance against Penn State, in which he also scored a touchdown.

Harrison Jr. is still a longshot, but a massive showdown with rival Michigan awaits.

Carson Beck, QB, Georgia (+3500)

Beck has flown under the radar, which seems impossible, while quarterbacking the No. 1 team in the country. But with All-American tight end Brock Bowers sidelined for at least the next month following ankle surgery, Beck (73.6% completion rate, 12 TD, 4 INT) has an opportunity to grab some voters’ attention.

The two-time defending national champions face three straight ranked opponents to start November.

When is the Heisman Trophy Awarded?

Although the Heisman Trophy is meant to signify the best player in college football, the award is voted on at the end of the regular season, meaning it doesn’t take conference championships or the College Football Playoff into account.

This year, the Heisman Trophy finalists will be announced on Monday, Dec. 4.

The Heisman Trophy Ceremony will take place five days later in New York on Saturday, Dec. 9.

Previous Heisman Trophy Winners

2022: Caleb Williams, QB, USC

2021: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

2020: Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama

2019: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

2018: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma

2017: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

2016: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

2015: Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama

2014: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

2013: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

Author

Doug Bonjour

Doug covered college and prep sports in Connecticut for more than a decade, including stints as the UConn women’s basketball and UConn football beat reporter for Hearst Connecticut Media. During his time reporting on the 11-time national champion Huskies, he covered three NCAA Final Fours. He also has written for the Associated Press and New York Times.

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