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

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Heisman Trophy contenders made their final in-game arguments on Saturday, giving voters a tough decision ahead of the voting deadline.

Will they make Alabama DeVonta Smith the first receiver to win the award since 1991? He has arguably been the top player in the country, regardless of position, and he did nothing to refute that argument against Florida. Or maybe they'll go with his quarterback in Mac Jones, who outdueled another Heisman favorite, Gators quarterback Kyle Trask, in the SEC championship game.

Or maybe a dark horse candidate will earn enough votes for a come-from-behind victory? Clemson's Trevor Lawrence got a Heisman boost after Dabo Swinney publicly stumped for him following a 34-10 win over Notre Dame in the ACC title game. Then there's Crimson Tide running back Najee Harris, who potentially had the best individual game of any player on conference championship weekend.

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

It promises to be a difficult decision for Heisman voters — and an intriguing final vote. With that, Sporting News looks at the latest Heisman Trophy odds after conference championship weekend:

Heisman odds 2020

Smith is now the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy following his performance against Florida in the SEC championship game. Following Saturday's games, he leads all Heisman contenders at -170 odds, followed closely by Jones at +170 odds. If the odds are to be believed, that makes the Heisman Trophy race a two-player affair: Trask and Lawrence come in a distant third, followed by an absurd third Alabama skilled player in Harris.

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

Player Odds
DeVonta Smith (WR, Alabama) -170
Mac Jones (QB, Alabama) +170
Kyle Trask (QB, Florida) +1900
Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson) +1900
Najee Harris (RB, Alabama) +2400

Top Heisman candidates

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DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

  • 2020 stats: 98 receptions for 1,511 receiving yards (15.4 yards per reception); 19 touchdowns from scrimmage (17 receiving, one rushing, one punt return)
  • Last game: 15 receptions for 184 yards, (12.3 yards per reception), two touchdowns; one 30-yard punt return; one fumble recovery

Did Smith do enough to win the Heisman Trophy? He certainly looks deserving of the award after his performance against Florida, in which he caught an Alabama single-game record 15 receptions for 184 yards and two scores. He nearly broke through for another punt return touchdown and had a key fumble recovery that kept an Alabama scoring drive alive. His 15-yard touchdown reception near the end of the game also proved the game-winner in a close win.

Just to see, let's compare Smith's stats to the last receiver to win it, Michigan's Desmond Howard, in 1991:

  • Smith: 98 receptions, 1,511 receiving yards (15.4 yards per catch); 18 touchdowns from scrimmage (17 receiving, one rushing); 199 punt return yards, one touchdown
  • Howard: 62 receptions, 985 yards (15.8 yards per catch); 21 touchdowns from scrimmage (19 receiving, two rushing); 412 kick return yards, one touchdown; 282 punt return yards, one touchdown

Smith compares favorably to Howard in terms of total yardage, but does have three fewer touchdowns. That said, it's up to Heisman voters to compare Smith not to Howard, but to his current Heisman competition. If they do that, he might just join the Michigan star as one of three receivers to win the Heisman.

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Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

  • 2020 stats: 250 of 327 passing (76.5 percent); 3,739 yards; 32 touchdowns, four interceptions
  • Last game: 33 of 43 passing (82.7 percent); 418 yards, five touchdowns, one interception; 192.1 passer rating

Jones put together a Heisman-caliber statline against Florida, breaking the SEC championship game record for passing yards (418) while throwing for five touchdowns. Still, the fact Smith and Harris accounted for 20 completions, 251 passing yards and all five of his touchdowns might sway Heisman voters in the final voting. Jones did enough to win the Heisman, but the individual brilliance of his receiver and running back might reduce the amount of No. 1 votes he earns.

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Kyle Trask, QB, Florida

  • 2020 stats: 285 of 409 passing (69.7 percent); 4,125 yards; 43 touchdowns, five interceptions; three rushing touchdowns
  • Last game: 26 of 40 passing (65.0 percent); 408 yards; three touchdowns; one rushing touchdowns; one lost fumble

Trask was excellent against Alabama, rebounding from his subpar performance against LSU to break Danny Wuerffel's SEC championship game record for passing yards. He also accounted for four total touchdowns, adding to an impressive season total. But he may have needed to lead Florida to the upset win over Alabama to secure the hardware; once again, he was denied the opportunity for a Heisman moment, with Alabama sacking him on the final play of the game to preserve a 52-46 win. That doesn't take away from his performance, however.

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Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

  • 2020 stats: 198 of 286 passing (69.2 percent); 2,753 yards; 22 touchdowns, four interceptions; seven rushing touchdowns
  • Last game: 25 of 36 passing (69.4 percent); 322 yards; two touchdowns, one interception; 14 rushes, 90 yards, one touchdown

Lawrence proved his value to Clemson by leading them to a 34-10 blowout of Notre Dame in the ACC championship game; he didn't have quite the stats of his backup D.J. Uiagalelei against the Fighting Irish, but it's clear his presence on the field proved a huge factor in the win. Notre Dame had no answer for the consensus No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, who couldn't be defended through the air or on the ground. His brilliance may have earned him enough Heisman consideration to become a finalist — or maybe more.

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Najee Harris, Alabama

  • 2020 stats: 214 carries for 1,262 yards (5.9 yards per carry) and 24 touchdowns; 32 receptions for 316 yards and three touchdowns
  • Last game: 31 carries for 178 yards (5.7 yards per carry) and two touchdowns; five receptions for 67 yards and three touchdowns

Harris burst into the Heisman conversation with a game for the ages against Florida, one that helped Alabama preserve its perfect season and No. 1 status ahead of the College Football Playoff. Harris did it all against the Gators, gashing, leaping over and flying past them en route to a five-touchdown performance. Alabama needed every bit of his brilliance in a 52-46 win, which adds even more value to his performance. Will it be enough to siphon enough votes to win?

When is the Heisman Trophy ceremony for 2020?

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Heisman Trophy ceremony will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021 — six days before the national championship game. Heisman voters won't be able to consider bowl games or the College Football Playoff, however: The deadline to cast ballots is Monday, Dec. 21.

Heisman Trophy winners history

The 2020 college football season could provide one more surprise by featuring a wide receiver as the Heisman recipient. Smith stands to be the first finalist at his position since Alabama's Amari Cooper in 2014, but looks like the best bet since Pitt's Larry Fitzgerald in 2003 to win the award (he finished second in the voting, just 128 points shy of Oklahoma quarterback Jason White). The only other receivers to win the award are Howard (1991) and Brown (1987), and both of them bolstered their cases with big special teams plays.

If recent history is any indication, however, the 2020 Heisman Trophy winner will be a quarterback. Only three non-quarterbacks have won the award this millennium: USC running back Reggie Bush (2005) and Alabama running backs Mark Ingram Jr. (2009) and Derrick Henry (2015).

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
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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