Certainly, oddsmakers appear to be of that opinion. In fact, wagering website BetOnline.ag stopped taking bets on Burrow altogether (per the Advocate), while FanDuel.com had him at a staggering -50,000, with bettors getting +3,000 odds on the field — i.e., any of the other three winning.
Before the season, anyone could have gotten 200-to-1 odds on Burrow winning the Heisman — at least one LSU fan did just that and now stands to win $10,000 on his $50 wager — while the major favorites were another pair of quarterbacks, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, with Fields and Hurts among those close behind.
Burrow, though, followed up a relatively humdrum debut last season as LSU’s starter (a 57.8 completion percentage for 2,894 yards, 16 touchdowns and five interceptions) by taking full advantage of his team’s switch from a power-running attack to one much more willing to throw and incorporate spread-offense concepts.
The result was an onslaught in which Burrow completed 77.9 percent of his passes, on pace to set a Football Bowl Subdivision record, for 4,715 yards and 48 touchdowns, both SEC records, with six interceptions. The fifth-year senior also ran for 289 yards and another three scores, but more importantly, he has led LSU to a 13-0 record and the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff.
CFP teams are well represented with the other three finalists, given that Ohio State is seeded second and Oklahoma fourth, with Clemson squeezing in at No. 3 in the four-team derby for the national championship. Burrow left Ohio State to transfer to LSU after he lost the Buckeyes’ starting job to Dwayne Haskins, while Hurts transferred earlier this year from Alabama, following Tagovailoa’s emergence for the Crimson Tide.
Should Hurts, another fifth-year senior, spring the upset Saturday and win the Heisman, he would be the third straight Oklahoma quarterback to be so honored, following Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. Hurts led this year’s Sooners to a 12-1 record and a Big 12 title, and he punished defenses both with his arm (3,634 passing yards for 32 touchdowns and seven interceptions) and legs (1,255 rushing yards with 18 more touchdowns).
A true sophomore, Fields also switched schools this year, going from Georgia to Ohio State rather than continue to sit behind Bulldogs quarterback Jake Fromm. Taking over from Haskins, he impressed through the air (2,953 yards for 40 touchdowns and one interception) and on the ground (471 yards with 10 more touchdowns) while helping the Buckeyes go 13-0.
Young, a former DeMatha standout, was a dominant force of the other side of the ball for Ohio State, leading the FBS with 16.5 sacks despite playing in just 11 games. A true junior, Young is just the fourth defensive lineman to be named a Heisman finalist, following Washington’s Steve Emtman (1991), Miami’s Warren Sapp (1994) and Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh (2009).
Only once in the Heisman’s 85-year history, with Michigan’s Charles Woodson in 1997, has a primarily defensive player won the honor. Quarterbacks have taken 16 of the past 19 awards.
Three quarterbacks are vying for this year’s honor, but it appears Burrow is all but a lock to bring it back to Baton Rouge. That would make him just the second player from the program to win the Heisman, following running back Billy Cannon in 1959, and it would more than please Coach Ed Orgeron.
“In my opinion, he should win it,” Orgeron said Saturday (via ESPN). “In my opinion, he’s going to win it. The best thing about Joe is he’s a team player. All he wants to do is win this game. Individual awards are not high on his list. That’s what makes him such a great team player.”