The spring football season is over and now fans can start gearing up for the regular season in a few months. As with every season, the Heisman Trophy is awarded to the game’s best player. With oddsmakers already putting out odds for the award, here are the top players to watch out for in the 2018 season.
Bryce Love, RB Stanford
Current odds: 5/1
Love wasn’t expected to go back to Palo Alto for his senior season after having a great season as a junior. Love rushed for 2,118 yards and 19 touchdowns and was an All-American. He was invited to the Heisman Trophy ceremony but ended up watching Baker Mayfield take home the award.
The production will be back for Love, who had over 100 rushing yards against multiple top 25 rushing defenses last season. He will have marquee matchups with Washington, Oregon, Notre Dame and USC. If he can put up big numbers against these teams on the big stage, Love can set himself up well to win the award.
Part of the award is playing on a good team and Stanford should be able to have a solid season. While tough games against the teams mentioned earlier, they should be able to win at least eight games and as many as 10 or 11 if they reach their potential.
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
Current odds: 13/2
No one was expecting Taylor to have as good of a freshman season as he did. Taylor rushed for 1,977 yards and 13 touchdowns while helping Wisconsin to a 13-1 record and an Orange Bowl win. He has a lot of his offense returning with him and should be poised for another big season.
The Wisconsin schedule is pretty light again, so Taylor will have to make the most of his opportunities. Games against Michigan and Penn State will be his big chances. Last year, against a tough Michigan defense, Taylor was able to rush for 132 yards, so tough competition doesn’t always slow him down.
Wisconsin should be heavily favored once again to win the Big Ten West, even if they drop the games against Michigan and Penn State. With another season that is similar in the stat line and the win column for Taylor, he could see himself hoisting the Heisman Trophy in December.
Khalil Tate, QB, Arizona
Current odds: 14/1
Although he didn’t start the season as the starting quarterback for Arizona, Tate created some major buzz last season after taking over. He amassed over 3,000 total yards (1,591 passing and 1,411 rushing) in just 11 games played. His team didn’t have the best season, going 5-5 in games with him attempting over one pass, but he had a nice season nonetheless.
Arizona plays Houston and BYU outside of their conference schedule, making it tough. Tate won’t be on national television for a lot of games so will have to do well the few times he gets that opportunity. Games against USC and Oregon will be big games but if the team does well, he could have bigger games down the stretch.
The biggest question for Tate is if his team can be successful. Since they were only 5-5 with him in the lineup, he’ll have to prove he can lead his teams to victories this season. The Wildcats have a new head coach in Kevin Sumlin, which means Tate will have to get used to a new coach. He needs to go 8-4 while producing good stats to have a chance to win the Heisman.
Shea Patterson, QB, Michigan
Current odds: 16/1
Patterson has been cleared to play by the NCAA after transferring in from Ole Miss. He played seven games in Oxford last season before being lost for the season with a knee injury. In that short time frame, Patterson threw for 2,259 yards and 17 touchdowns on 63.8% passing.
The spotlight will be on Patterson from day one and he will have plenty of opportunities to show what he’s got. There are going to be four or five really big games that Michigan plays in this season: Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Penn State and Ohio State. He has mixed results against good competition with bad outings against Alabama and LSU, but a solid game against Auburn. If he wants to win the award he’ll need to cut out those bad games.
Michigan fans have been waiting for a true contending team for a while now. They should have it this season with so many key players coming back and Patterson transferring in to play quarterback. Making the College Football Playoff isn’t out of the question, but they’ll need to get hot against their tough schedule. If Patterson can lead Michigan to a good record and maybe a Big Ten Championship he will be right in the thick of the Heisman talk.
Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Current odds: 10/1
He still doesn’t have a start in his career but he played so well in the National Championship Game has him high on oddsmakers’ lists to win the Heisman. Realistically he still has to beat out Jalen Hurts for the job, even if he looks like the better player. He did see action in eight games, passing for 636 yards, 11 touchdowns and two interceptions.
Tagovailoa benefits from playing at Alabama, where they will be the talk of college football as long as Nick Saban is there. They have big games against Louisville, LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn. To beat teams like this, Tagovailoa will have to be at his best.
The schedule is a little tougher than last season but no one in their right mind would bet against Alabama right now. They should get a large number of wins and Tagovailoa will get a lot of credit being the quarterback. If his stats are decent he’s a threat to win the trophy.
Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia
Current odds: 10/1
Fromm was the backup when Jacob Eason went down with an injury and filled in without looking over his shoulder. He led them to the National Championship Game with 2,615 passing yards and 24 touchdowns on 62.2% passing. While his production will need to go up to win the award, he should improve in year two as Bulldogs’ quarterback.
He too will have many chances to help showcase why he should win the Heisman. The Bulldogs play LSU, Florida and Auburn, which should make it tough on Fromm. He did have limited production against the better teams on the schedule last season and only had one game with 300 yards passing total but he will be asked to do more with Sony Michel and Nick Chubb taking their talents to the NFL.
Georgia may not be able to make it back to the National Championship but should have a solid season. If they win the games they should and Fromm improves in year two, Georgia could have their first Heisman winner since Herschel Walker in 1982.