2023 Heisman Trophy Odds: J.J. McCarthy the new favorite heading into Week 9


Heisman Trophy Race:  J.J. McCarthy the new favorite heading into Week 9

Caleb Williams was the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy before the 2023 season began, but a lot has changed since then. Williams’ USC Trojans have now lost two games, essentially eliminating the star quarterback from the running. Meanwhile, Michael Penix Jr., who was the heavy favorite entering last week, is now behind Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy. But there’s still a lot of football to be played. Each week, I’ll dive into the prices and analyze how I’d play this market for the remainder of the season. It’s important to see what type of stats a player has racked up already, but how will they do the rest of the way? I’ll get into that — and a lot more — here! 


MORE: Check out our Pro Picks page for college football best bets from all of our analysts

Heisman Trophy Candidates

Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy +240 (was +1000) 

I’m a little shocked that McCarthy is the betting favorite to win this award. Perhaps I’ll be completely wrong on this, but I don’t think there’s a chance he’ll actually win. McCarthy is undoubtedly a very big part of the reason that Michigan is a dominant team, but that’s Blake Corum’s show in Ann Arbor. Corum leads the nation in rushing touchdowns and the Wolverines are a run-first team. They also have the top scoring defense in the country, allowing just 5.9 points per game. With that in mind, I don’t see how McCarthy can get this much credit for Michigan being an elite team. And I honestly wish I could find a way to short this. 

Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. +320 (was -120)

Penix Jr. is coming off a bad game against the Arizona State Sun Devils, but the Huskies still won that one. And overall, the lefty has amazing numbers this season. So, I’m shocked he isn’t the betting favorite to win still. However, I was a bit down on him as a Heisman candidate heading into last week, and I’m now even more confident that Washington will lose a game this season. It just feels like Arizona State exposed Washington a little last week, utilizing aggressive play from its linebacking corps to make Penix Jr. uncomfortable. And with games against USC, Utah and Oregon State still on the schedule, I just think there’s a loss or two coming for the Huskies. 

LSU QB Jayden Daniels +340 (was +1400) 

I have been hyping Daniels up as a candidate in recent weeks, as he just continues to put up insane numbers for the Tigers. Last week, Daniels threw for 279 yards with three touchdowns and no picks, and he also rushed for a score. He’s now up to 2,573 passing yards with 25 touchdowns and only three interceptions this year. And he has also rushed for 521 yards and five touchdowns this season. It’s just becoming more and more clear that Daniels is more important to his team than any other player in the country. And I think we’re at the point where this will be Daniels’ Heisman Trophy if LSU beats the Alabama Crimson Tide. 

RELATED: Check out our Week 9 Betting Hub for best bets and stories for the week ahead

Oklahoma QB Dillon Gabriel +1100 (was +1000) 

Gabriel is one of the only players I think is worth betting at this point in time. Last week, Oklahoma struggled to beat UCF, but the lefty still threw for 253 yards and three touchdowns in that game. And it was a late touchdown strike that allowed the Sooners to remain unbeaten. I just still believe that Oklahoma has a good shot at remaining unbeaten, and I also think Gabriel could be in for a huge performance against Kansas this weekend. If he does put up big numbers in a win, his odds won’t be this favorable again next week.  

Florida State QB Jordan Travis +1100 (was +1200) 

Travis was my favorite bet to win this award before the season, but it feels like he hasn’t had enough big performances to do it. Florida State has a great shot at finishing the regular season undefeated and winning the ACC, so he’ll never really be out of the picture. But Travis would have to stack together performances in which he has three or four touchdowns in order to get back into this. And it just doesn’t seem like it’ll happen, as the Seminoles haven’t needed him to. They can stick to a more balanced approach and win games with their defense. 

Oregon QB Bo Nix +1200 (was +2000) 

Nix still has a shot at winning this award, as he has had a great season for a very good Oregon team. But this weekend could make or break his year. A road game against the Utah Utes is going to be a very tough challenge for Nix and Co., as this is one of the best defensive teams in the nation. And Utah has won 29 of its last 30 home games, so the Ducks are fighting an uphill battle in this stadium. But Oregon is favored to win the game. And if the Ducks do get the job done, they’ll be viewed as the favorites to win the Pac-12. Doing that might be enough for Nix to win with his impressive numbers. Quite a few of our VSiN analysts have been pounding the table for him, so perhaps it’s still worth betting him at this price. 

Out Of The Running

Last week, it was still possible that guys like Drake Maye and Caleb Williams could with the Heisman. However, those two no longer have a shot. Maye’s North Carolina Tar Heels were upset by a miserable Virginia Cavaliers team, and it was likely going to take an undefeated season in order for the quarterback to have a chance. Meanwhile, Williams’ Trojans took their second loss of the year, and they could potentially lose another game or two. So, these two are done. But they do have the 2024 NFL Draft to look forward to. They’re seemingly competing with one another to be the first pick in the draft. 

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