Heisman Trophy watch: Updated odds, top candidates to win 2021 award

Heisman Trophy watch: Updated odds, top candidates to win 2021 award


The college football regular season is over — barring the Army-Navy Game — meaning that players can make no further on-field arguments for the 2021 Heisman Trophy campaigns.

So: Who is the favorite to win the Heisman now that play and voting have concluded?

The odds-on favorite heading into bowl season is Alabama sophomore quarterback Bryce Young, who finished his season with a flourish against Georgia in the SEC championship game. That said, don’t discount any of the three other finalists, who have also staked their claims to sports’ most famous individual award: Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett and Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud.

Only time will tell which of those four players will win the Heisman. Until then, Sporting News has you covered on their Heisman campaigns, including latest betting odds, overall season stats, Heisman moments and more:

MORE: Who were the biggest Heisman Trophy finalist snubs?

Heisman odds 2021

Here are the current Heisman odds FanDuel.

Player Odds
Bryce Young, QB, Alabama -6000
Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan +1800
Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt +3000
C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State +4000

Top Heisman candidates

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Bryce Young, QB, Alabama (-6000)

Stats: 314 of 462 passing (67.9 percent); 4,322 yards; 43 touchdowns to four interceptions; 31 rushing yards, three rushing scores

Young is the runaway favorite for the Heisman after consecutive weeks of Heisman moments. The first came against rival Auburn, when he led the Crimson Tide, down 10-3, on a 97-yard touchdown drive to tie the game with just 24 seconds remaining. Alabama won in four overtimes, 24-22, to keep alive its College Football Playoff hopes.

His second came a week later in the SEC championship game, against Georgia’s vaunted defense. Entering the game, that unit ranked first nationally in total defense (230.4 ypg), second in passing defense (151.5 ypg), third in passing defense (78.9 ypg) and first in points per game (6.9 ppg). Yet Young was surgical against the Bulldogs, completing 26 of 44 passes for 421 yards and three touchdowns. He also added 40 rushing yards and another score to his Heisman campaign for good measure.

Young has been incredible for the Crimson Tide all season, helping place this team in position for a championship in what was considered a rebuilding year for Nick Saban and Co. That should — plus his nationally televised exploits in the last two weeks of the regular season — should be enough to win him the trophy.

MORE: College football fans unhappy following announcement of 2021 Heisman Trophy finalists

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Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan (+1800)

Stats: 55 total tackles (33 solo, 22 assisted); 15 tackles for loss; 13.5 sacks; two forced fumbles; 10 quarterback hurries; two pass breakups

Another player with an incredible late-season burst, Hutchinson is the lone defensive player among this year’s finalists, and the first since Ohio State’s Chase Young in 2019. Hutchinson has been unstoppable off the edge in the last four games, racking up seven sacks and eight tackles for loss against Penn State, Maryland, Ohio State and Iowa, the last of which was in the Big Ten championship game.

Hutchinson has more games with sacks (eight) than without (four) and has three games of multiple sacks. That includes 2 1/2 sacks against nonconference opponent Washington in Week 2, plus three sacks apiece against Penn State and rival Ohio State. That latter performance helped the Wolverines beat the Buckeyes for the first time since 2011. He also got a sack against the Hawkeyes a week later.

Hutchinson has the second-best odds to win the Heisman, a marvel considering no defensive player has won it since the Wolverines’ own Charles Woodson in 1997. The defensive end has been impressive in 2021, but Michigan may have to wait a while longer before it gets another defensive player to win the Heisman.

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Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt (+3000)

Stats: 334 of 497 passing (67.2 percent); 4,319 yards; 42 touchdowns to seven interceptions; 241 rushing yards, five rushing scores

Pickett did nothing to hurt his Heisman chances in the ACC championship game, decimating Wake Forest to the tune of 20-of-33 passing for 253 yards and two scores. (He also added a somewhat controversial play to his Heisman campaign reel, faking a slide before pulling up on a 58-yard touchdown run). In terms of pure stats, Pickett ranks alongside Young with how he has performed this season. But that loss to Western Michigan — a game in which Pickett threw six touchdowns — coupled with Young’s performance against Georgia may have been too much for voters to look past. That said, Pickett is clearly the driving force of this 11-2, ACC champion Panthers team. Without him, Pitt isn’t nearly as successful in 2021.

(Getty Images)

C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State (+4000)

Stats: 280 of 395 passing (70.9 percent); 3,862 yards; 38 touchdowns to five interceptions

Stroud had perhaps the biggest hurdle to clear in terms of the Heisman voting, considering he is the only finalist to have not competed during conference championship weekend (his Buckeyes were knocked from contention with the loss to Michigan in Week 13). That said, the fact he is a finalist at all suggests a not-insignificant number of voters saw enough from him throughout the season to warrant his inclusion in their ballots, some of which were likely cast before conference championship weekend.

Stroud had as good a chance of any player to win the Heisman heading into rivalry week. He certainly wasn’t bad against the Wolverines, completing 34 of 49 passes for 394 yards and two scores. But his performance in the losing effort was clearly overshadowed by Michigan’s first series win since 2011. The fact Stroud could not compete during conference championship weekend — when Young, Pickett and Hutchinson all further cemented their claim to the Heisman — will likely keep him from winning it.

When is the Heisman Trophy Ceremony?

The Heisman will be awarded on Saturday, Dec. 11 — a week after conference championship weekend. It returns to its usual mid-December spot after last year’s ceremony was hosted in January, following the first game of the College Football Playoff semifinals.

Heisman Trophy winners history

The 2021 Heisman Trophy race was shaping up to be one of the closest in recent history until conference championship weekend, when Stroud had as good an opportunity as either Young or Pickett to win the award (though even then, many considered the better performer out of the latter two would be the favorite to win it). Other players such as Ole Miss’ Matt Corral, Kenneth Walker III and Alabama linebacker WIll Anderson Jr. were also considered part of the race.

Young’s performance against the Bulldogs, however, seemed to cement the race in his favor, at least among oddsmakers. 

To date, former Alabama running back Mark Ingram claims the closest finish in Heisman Trophy history, edging out second-place running Toby Gerhart of Stanford 1,304-1,276 in 2009, despite losing that year’s Doak Walker Award (best running back) to the Cardinal player.

Only four non-quarterbacks have won the award this millennium: USC running back Reggie Bush (2005) and Alabama running backs Mark Ingram Jr. (2009), Derrick Henry (2015) and DeVonta Smith (2020).

After all, it’s a quarterback-centric award, as the past 10 years of Heisman Trophy winners shows:

Year Player Total votes Margin of victory
2020 DeVonta Smith, QB, Alabama 1,856 669
2019 Joe Burrow, QB, LSU 2,608 1,846
2018 Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma 2,167 296
2017 Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma 2,398 1,098
2016 Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville 2,144 620
2015 Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama 1,832 293
2014 Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon 2,534 1,284
2013 Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State 2,205 1,501
2012 Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M 2,029 323
2011 Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor 1,687 280
2010 Cam Newton, QB, Auburn 2,263 1,184





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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.