August is unequivocally the most boring month of the calendar year. It’s a summertime farewell full of school preparation, the final waves of blistering heat, and a Sports abyss. If August was a human being, it’d be a bland 34-year-old who wakes up at 7:30 AM, drinks two cups of coffee and drives his Toyota Camry (great gas mileage!) to work as an accountant every day. He’s boring, satisfied and totally unsensational.
For someone like me who lives and dies by sports outcomes and needs basketball content injected into my body like a diabetic needs insulin, August is a dreadful 31-day march of absolute nothingness. Some maniacs cling to baseball (I refuse until my Cincinnati Reds become relevant again), others argue about LeBron James joining his son’s layup line or Devin Booker whining about being double-teamed during a freaking pickup game shot on an iPhone camera. I know, it’s a very desperate time.
However, there’s football this week. Real college football–an entire slate of games. With the excitement of a new football season also comes the campaign for the Heisman Trophy, annually awarded to college football’s alleged Best Player in the Country (Derrick Henry beating Christian McCaffrey still pisses me off). As you sit back and glue your eyes to ESPN this coming Saturday, monitor the Heisman candidates and keep your wallet and Bovada account on tap because I’m going to tell you who to bet on to win the Heisman.
Here are the official odds, per Odds Shark
|Tua Tagovailoa (QB Alabama)
|Trevor Lawrence (QB Clemson)
|Justin Fields (QB Ohio State)
|Jalen Hurts (QB Oklahoma)
|Adrian Martinez (QB Nebraska)
|Jake Fromm (QB Georgia)
|Sam Ehlinger (QB Texas)
|Jonathan Taylor (RB Wisconsin)
|Justin Herbert (QB Oregon)
|Shea Patterson (QB Michigan)
|Najee Harris (RB Alabama)
|Travis Etienne (RB Clemson)
|Ian Book (QB Notre Dame)
|AJ Dillon (RB Boston College)
|D’Andre Swift (RB Georgia)
|Jerry Jeudy (WR Alabama)
|Austin Kendall (QB West Virginia)
|Rondale Moore (WR Purdue)
|Tee Higgins (WR Clemson)
|D’Eriq King (QB Houston)
|Tate Martell (QB Miami)
|Kelly Bryant (QB Missouri)
|Khalil Tate (QB Arizona)
|Eno Benjamin (RB Arizona State)
|K.J. Costello (QB Stanford)
|Tylan Wallace (WR Oklahoma State)
I’ll break the best bets down into three categories:
Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence (+275) and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa (+250) are your favorites by a healthy margin and they should be. We saw them clash in this past year’s championship game and the result was disgustingly less competitive then we all hoped. Lawrence laid the smackdown on Bama’s defense and Tua, for the first time in his career, was flustered and unable to sustain any consistency on offense. After confirming Nick Saban’s wild decision to bench Jalen Hurts for Tua in the 2018 title game by mounting a comeback victory over Georgia, Tagovailoa secured his starting spot and pole position in the Heisman race for most of 2018. The reigning champ Lawrence didn’t emerge until midway through the year when Dabo benched Kelly Bryant in favor of grown-up Mitch Kramer from Dazed and Confused. Lawrence completed an undefeated season for the Tigers and dominated the College Football Playoff.
So, who’s the pick between these two?
Tua. Narrative is the pinnacle of any Player of the Year/MVP/Heisman race. These are media-voted awards (who in the world came up with this bright idea?). The Media love nothing more than being swooned by feel-good stories, charismatic playmakers, magnetically energetic personalities, polarizing behavior, and a story they can write thousands of words about. Why do you think Lamar Jackson won in 2016 and placed third in 2017 despite almost identical (and even better in some cases) stats? Lamar was the media child of yesteryear. Baker Mayfield was the bombastic personality and creative playmaker media members needed to keep things fresh.
So, with Tua: 1.) I believe Bama is going to stomp through their opponents this year. The defense is, well, an Alabama defense, and the offense is loaded with three All-American caliber wide receivers, its perennially elite running back committee and Tua, the small-framed Hawaiin quarterback and billboard personality who had the Heisman swiped from him at the end of the year by Kyler Murray. Alabama revenge tours are extraordinary to witness under Nick Saban. With an even better offense than last year, I predict Tua stays in all four quarters every game and accumulates a Mahomesian stat-line while completely obliterating his foes. That’s my pick: the Tua redemption tour. Say goodbye to the nice lei-wearing fourth-quarter ghost Tua. Welcome the business Tua. The your defense is a voodoo doll to me so I’m sticking a knife in your back and twisting it for 60 minutes Tua.
Middle of the Pack
Justin Hebert from Oregon (+2000), Travis Etienne from Clemson (+3000) and Sam Ehlinger from Texas (+1500) pique my interest in the middle.
Herbert is the most professional quarterback at the college level in my opinion. He wields unbelievable arm strength, moves with great spatial awareness in the pocket, and is simply the most fundamental passer in the country. That does not mean he is the best! But I like him as a Heisman option because of 1.) His team is probably going to win a lot of games. Oregon plays in the Pac-12, which is a more disgusting heap of garbage than the one right outside my house that hasn’t been collected in two weeks and is raided daily by homeless heroin addicts; and 2.) He’ll rake up big yardage outings and catapult himself into the NFL Draft’s no. 1 pick conversation.
Travis Etienne is Clemson’s most talented skill player. He is an absolute beast of a running back and his odds would be cut in half if he played for any other school, but he’s a Tiger, which means he’s stuck underneath Trevor Lawrence on the stardom totem poll. I like him at 30/1 though because talent is talent. If he’s the best player in the country, he’ll get the carries. Dabo Swinney ain’t about to succumb to Heisman narrative feeding, so he won’t force Lawrence to throw the ball a million times per game. The ball is touching Etienne’s hands at least 15-20 times and probably more based on how explosive he is as a runner. On one of the nation’s top two teams, I’ll take a flier on the dynamic Clemson back.
Sam Ehlinger is a really good quarterback–but not Heisman material. I threw this on here because, for some ungodly reason, college football media gives Texas Football the Lewinsky treatment. “Texas is BACK” every single year apparently and annually accompanied by a loss to Maryland. Gimme a break! This is a program that’s consistently underperformed and has won fewer games than Kentucky over the past three seasons. That’s right, MY KENTUCKY WILDCATS have a better football program than Texas (for now lol). Since Texas might finally have a smart coach and strong roster, media love is heading off the rails (I’m just the messenger). Ehlinger can be the vehicle for national Texas lore while he and the team have a great season.
Rondale Moore from Purdue (+5000) and Lynn Bowden from Kentucky (not listed) are my homerun swings, and they’re two dudes that can produce homerun plays at a moments’ notice.
I wrote this about Rondale Moore a few months ago:
In high school, I ran track. Our bitter cross-town rival Trinity High School had one runner who was demonically fast with a powerful body despit standing just five-foot-seven. He graduated the same year as me and was the most incredible sprinter I’d witnessed in person (until I saw Sydney McLaughlin at Kentucky). Possessing elite lower body speed and tremendous muscle tone, he rumbled through the 100-meter dash in seconds with a calm face and tsunami leg cycle. It was extraordinary. This kid looked like he wasn’t breaking a sweat yet he ran significantly faster than I ever would. His upper body didn’t flinch when he ran. I was always fascinated by him. By the way, he was also an All-State football player and played for Purdue as a true freshman this past season. His name is Rondale Moore.
Rondale is still the most incredible male sprinter I’ve seen in person and probably submitted the most athletically impressive football performance I’ve seen at Kentucky’s Commonwealth Stadium when he torched my school for about 10,000 yards. Moore is a 181-pound greasy fast Louisvillian tank on the football field–Mick agrees. As a slot receiver, he’s Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction: bombastic and constantly demanding your attention. If Purdue breaks through in Jeff Brohm’s third season, expect it to be on the back of a Rondale Moore Heisman campaign–one that Desmond Howard is buying into.
Lynn Bowden, on the other hand, is the most elusive open-field runner in the country. He is the football reincarnation of bar soap in the bathtub. You can keep hold of him. Every time you think you have Lynn all wrapped up, he bursts through the tiniest possible hole or spins into open space or cuts back the other direction with a quickness you can’t comprehend. He looks so smooth despite being a one-man lightning bolt on the football field. If Kentucky procures another nationally relevant season, expect Bowden to orchestrate a mind-boggling season from both on film and statistically.