Heisman Trophy watch: Updated odds, top candidates to win 2020 award

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(Getty Images/SN Illustrations)

Is the race for sports' most prestigious individual award down to two players?

That seemed to be the consensus among oddsmakers ahead of Saturday's games, and seems to be the case after them, too. But the ordering of the players has changed. Prior to Saturday, Florida quarterback Kyle Trask was the clear favorite to take home the trophy, followed closely by Alabama quarterback Mac Jones. After Saturday, the two have switched — and another player has significantly closed the gap between them.

Depending on the outcome of Saturday's SEC championship game, the question could become which of those players wins the Heisman — and whether Alabama could become only the second team in history to have both the Heisman winner and the runner-up.

That said, a handful of other players have impressed oddsmakers enough to warrant their inclusion in the latest set of odds heading into conference championship weekend.

MORE: College football picks, predictions against the spread for Week 15

With that, Sporting News breaks down the Heisman Trophy odds heading into Week 16, including who has the best shot at taking home the hardware in 2020:

Heisman odds 2020

Heading into Week 16, the odds-on favorites to win the Heisman are Jones (-300) and Trask (+250). They are Vegas' clear favorites to win the award, followed by Alabama receiver DeVonta Smith (+1000), who moved up from +2200 odds the week prior. Clemson and Notre Dame quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence and Ian Book come in a distant fourth at +1400.

Below are the top odds to bring home the 2020 Heisman Trophy as of Sunday:

Player Odds
Mac Jones (QB, Alabama) -300
Kyle Trask (QB, Florida) +250
DeVonta Smith (WR, Alabama) +1000
Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson) +1400
Ian Book (QB, Notre Dame) +1400
Justin Fields (QB, Ohio State) +2500

Top Heisman candidates

(Getty Images)

Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

  • 2020 stats: 217 of 284 passing (76.4 percent); 3,321 yards; 27 touchdowns, three interceptions
  • Last game: 24 of 29 passing (82.7 percent); 208 yards; 143.0 passer rating

Jones didn't need to do much in Alabama's 52-3 win over Arkansas to take over as the Heisman favorite. Despite not throwing for any touchdowns, he completed an impressive 82.7 percent of his passes for 208 yards. He had a bad interception negated by a targeting call, keeping his touchdown and interception totals the same for the season. Depending on how well he performs against Florida in the SEC title game, the award is his to lose.

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Kyle Trask, QB, Florida

  • 2020 stats: 259 of 369 passing (70.2 percent); 3,717 yards; 39 touchdowns, five interceptions; two rushing touchdowns
  • Last game: 29 of 47 passing (61.7 percent); 474 yards; two touchdowns, two interceptions; two rushing touchdowns; one lost fumble

Trask tumbled from his spot atop the Heisman odds after an abysmal game against sub-.500 LSU. He threw for 474 yards and totaled three touchdowns, but also threw two interceptions (including a pick-six) and fumbled the ball right before halftime, leading to 10 total points off turnovers for LSU. Trask had a near-Heisman moment after he led the Gators to within field goal range for a game-tying, 51-yard attempt. But Evan McPherson's kick sailed left, denying Trask. That said, a big win — and bigger performance — against Alabama could vault Trask back to the top of the Heisman voting.

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DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

  • 2020 stats: 83 receptions for 1,327 receiving yards (16.0 yards per reception); 17 touchdowns from scrimmage (15 receiving, one rushing, one punt return)
  • Last game: Three receptions for 22 yards, (7.3 yards per reception); 84-yard punt return for touchdown

Smith didn't have quite the game he had against LSU — far from it — but still moved up the Heisman odds. Arkansas committed to double-covering him and preventing the big play, but the Razorbacks' plan went awry when Smith returned an 84-yard punt return for touchdown in the first quarter. It sparked a 49-0 run by Alabama and looked reminiscent of Desmond Howard's return against Ohio State in 1991 — minus the Heisman pose, of course.

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Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

  • 2020 stats: 173 of 250 passing (69.2 percent); 2,431 yards; 20 touchdowns, three interceptions
  • Last game: 12 of 22 passing (54.5 percent); 195 yards; one touchdown, one interception; seven rushes, 41 yards, two touchdowns

Lawrence was idle Saturday as Clemson looked ahead to Notre Dame in the ACC title game. That will likely keep the junior signal-caller — the best pure talent with the highest NFL upside of his class — from winning the Heisman. Unless he can light up Notre Dame's defense on Saturday, he could have a tough time earning enough votes to become a finalist. Those two missed games due to a COVID-19 diagnosis severely hurt his Heisman chances.

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Ian Book, QB, Notre Dame

  • 2020 stats: 181 of 286 passing (63.3 percent); 2,381 yards; 15 touchdowns, two interceptions
  • Last game: 24 of 37 passing (64.9 percent); 285 yards; three touchdowns, one interception; eight rushes, 53 yards, two touchdowns

Like Lawrence, Book didn't play Saturday as his team prepped for the ACC title game. He could earn Heisman finalist consideration, considering how well he plays against Clemson, but his numbers are similar to Lawrence's, even with two more games played. At this point, Notre Dame simply wants Book to lead a national title run. A Heisman is gravy.

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Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

  • 2020 stats: 107 of 137 passing (78.1 percent); 1,407 yards; 15 touchdowns, three interceptions; 55 rushes, 239 yards, five touchdowns
  • Last game: 17 of 24 passing (70.8 percent); 199 yards, two touchdowns; 13 rushes, 104 yards, two touchdowns

Fields, the only returning 2019 Heisman finalist, couldn't play Saturday after Ohio State's game vs. Michigan was canceled due to the coronavirus. That will leave just the Big Ten championship game against Northwestern to prove to voters he's deserving of votes. He can't, however, have another game like he did against Indiana — one in which he threw three interceptions. Even if he has a lights-out performance, it might not be enough considering he will have played in only six games all year.

When is the Heisman Trophy ceremony for 2020?

Because of the onset of the coronavirus, the Heisman Trophy ceremony has been significantly delayed. It will take place Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021 — six days before the national championship game — whereas it had traditionally taken place the first Friday after conference championship weekend.

That said, don't expect Heisman voters to take bowl games or the College Football Playoff into consideration: The deadline for voters to cast their ballots is Monday, Dec. 21 — two days after conference championship weekend concludes.

Heisman Trophy winners history

If recent history is any indication, the 2020 Heisman Trophy winner will be a quarterback. In fact, only one non-QB has won the award in the past 10 years: Alabama running back Derrick Henry, in 2015. The award is even harder to attain for receivers; the last true wideout to win the Heisman was Michigan's Desmond Howard in 1991. Only three receivers since have even been Heisman finalists: Alabama's David Palmer (1993), Pitt's Larry Fitzgerald (2003) and Alabama's Amari Cooper (2014).

It just goes to show how quarterback-centric the award has become. That said, don't expect Trask or Jones to run away with it. While they figure to take up the majority of votes, Smith should get some decent representation, especially after Trask's subpar performance against LSU. Either way, the 2020 winner won't blow out the competition like Joe Burrow did in 2019: The LSU signal-caller garnered the second-highest total votes (2,608), second-highest first-place votes (841) and largest margin of victory (1,846) in Heisman voting history.

With that, here are the past 10 Heisman Trophy winners, their votes total and their margin of victory:

Year Player Total votes Margin of victory
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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