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College Football 2017: Five Heisman Dark Horses, Picks, Odds, Preview, Prediction

College Football 2017

June 2017

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We are inching closer and closer to the 2017-18 college football season, so I think it's time to take a look at some future bets. One of the things to handicap with college football is who is going to win the Heisman. You could have made a fortune in this area over the years, as guys like Johnny Manziel, Jameis Winston and even Lamar Jackson weren't considered real threats before the season.

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College Football 2017: Five Heisman Dark Horses, Picks, Odds, Preview, Prediction

USA TODAY Sports

Remember, I like looking for longshots in these type of bets considering my money is going to be tied up for several months. It's all about the value for me, and I don't see the point in betting on +300 odds when you won't get your payout for five months. 

So, let's take a look at five guys who are worth some money before the college football season begins.

Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville Cardinals - Only one player (Archie Griffin) has ever won the Heisman twice, and Lamar Jackson will have to be more special than he was last year to become the second. However, we’re talking about an elite athlete who pays in an offensive friendly system and combined for 51 touchdowns last season despite running out of gas towards the end. If Louisville has an improved offensive line from a year ago, Jackson certainly has the tools to make history. The kid is special and considering he’s not even the favorite with +700 odds, I’ll take my chances on this value.

Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State Nittany Lions - Only three running backs have won the Heisman since 2000, so the odds are stacked against Saquon Barkley. However, Barkley rushed for nearly 1,500 yards and 18 touchdowns as a sophomore while piling up 402 receiving yards and four touchdowns on just 28 catches. Penn State is back on the map with the season it had last year and all the talent returning, which is only going to put more eyeballs on Barkley and his ability. PSU may have the best running back in the country and could produce its first Heisman winner since John Cappelletti if he can duplicate what he did a season ago. I’ll take Barkley and my +1200 odds. 

Jacob Eason, QB, Georgia Bulldogs - A lot of the recent quarterbacks who have won the Heisman had their breakthrough season their second year, so keep an eye on Georgia’s Jacob Eason. Eason finished last year with 2,400 passing yards and 16 touchdowns with some of his best play coming on the road. Eason will have an easier sophomore season with a healthy Nick Cubb backing him up, and he finished his first year strong with five touchdown passes in his final three games. Eason, who is a former five-star recruit, has the ability to really shine in the SEC. There’s a lot of upside here and the dark horse potential is clearly there. If you’re looking for a longshot, Eason may be your guy with +6600 odds.

Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon Ducks - Royce Freeman couldn’t follow up his first two seasons the way he would have liked, but he’s still produced over 4,100 rushing yards and 44 touchdowns in three seasons in Eugene. The guy is the ultimate workhorse with big play ability and abuses Pac-12 defenses even when they know he’s getting the ball. Oregon will now be led by a solid offensive coach in Willie Taggart, who got the most out of Marlon Mack. You can expect Freeman to finish his career on a strong note and if its anything like it was in 2015, Oregon has a serious Heisman contender on its hands. Freeman is another player who has value with +6600 odds.

Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma Sooners - Yes, Baker Mayfield is still playing college football somehow, and he’s just 20 yards shy of 10,000 for his career along with 88 touchdown passes. Mayfield has finished in the top-five in Heisman voting in each of the last two seasons and is easily a more serious threat to win the award if he can lead the Sooners to more winning. Oklahoma has the weapons to get the job done and an early victory in Ohio State would put Mayfield in the drivers seat for the award. Finding +1600 odds right now is a steal considering they won’t be there once the season begins.

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