When the USC Trojans handed the starting quarterback job to freshman Sam Darnold in Week 4 last year, the young quarterback led the team to a 9-1 straight-up and 7-3 against-the-spread record.
Darnold will try to build on that fantastic season with another strong showing in 2017.
Darnold is a +400 favorite on the odds to win the Heisman Trophy this season at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Darnold finished his freshman year with 31 touchdown passes and 3,086 passing yards, capped off by a 453-yard, five-touchdown performance in USC's 52-49 Rose Bowl win over the Penn State Nittany Lions.
The Trojans have a good opportunity to get back into the National Championship picture this season, and Darnold will be at the center of all of the hype if they do.
Heisman Trophy Betting Odds (see the complete list at OddsShark)
- Sam Darnold (QB USC) +400
- Saquon Barkley (RB Penn State) +700
- Baker Mayfield (QB Oklahoma) +800
- Lamar Jackson (QB Louisville) +800
- J.T. Barrett (QB Ohio State) +800
- Derrius Guice (RB LSU) +1200
- Bo Scarbrough (RB Alabama) +1400
- Jalen Hurts (QB Alabama) +1600
- Deondre Francois (QB Florida State) +1800
- Jake Browning (QB Washington) +1800
Penn State came up just short of a win in the Rose Bowl, but that was no fault of running back Saquon Barkley who rushed for 194 yards and two touchdowns and caught five passes for 55 yards and another touchdown. On the season, Barkley rushed for 1,496 yards on 272 carries with 18 touchdowns.
The junior running back is going off at +700 to win the Heisman Trophy this season and has all of the talent necessary to put up big numbers, but he could wind up splitting some votes with quarterback Trace McSorley (+3300 to win the Heisman).
Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield (+800) and Ohio State's JT Barrett (+800) both made the decision to return to college for their senior years, and both should find themselves firmly in the Heisman Trophy discussion. Mayfield finished third in Heisman voting last season with 40 touchdown passes and 3,965 passing yards, and he should put up gaudy numbers again in the offense-happy Big 12.
Lamar Jackson (+800) will try to become the second player in college football history to win the Heisman Trophy twice. Jackson ran away with the trophy last season after running and passing for a combined 5,114 total yards and 51 total touchdowns.
Other Heisman hopefuls this season include Derrius Guice (+1200), Bo Scarbrough (+1400), Jalen Hurts (+1600), Deondre Francois (+1800), and Jake Browning (+1800). Guice rushed for 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns last season on just 183 carries. He will get the ball a lot more than that this season with Leonard Fournette off to the NFL.