Heisman Winner Betting Insights: CJ Stroud's Trophy to Fumble

The 2022 NCAA Football season kicks off this Saturday, which means this is one of our last chances to examine the preseason odds and action for the sport’s most prestigious award. CJ Stroud continues to lead the market, and his odds have shifted from +400 to +200. Stroud is now the prohibitive favorite to win the prize, so it will be his trophy to fumble as we head into the season.

Heisman Trophy Winner Insights @BetMGM

  • Highest Ticket%: CJ Stroud 13.3%
  • Highest Handle%: CJ Stroud 24.5%
  • Biggest Liability: Jaxon Smith-Njigba

According to BetMGM, 13.3% of the tickets have come in on Stroud, with nearly 25% of the handle. This seems to indicate sharps were on Stroud early with some large bets. This has reduced his odds to the point where you probably won’t see much more action on the Ohio State quarterback.

Ohio State Wide Receivers With a Wrinkle

Looking down the list, we find one of the main reasons Stroud is the favorite: superstar wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba. He opened at +5000 and has since dropped to +3000. Smith-Njigba played behind Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave for much of last season, but coaches spoke highly of his talent. He then exploded onto the scene with a performance for the ages in the Rose Bowl against Utah. He ended up leading the Buckeyes in yards, receptions, and yards per game. Smith-Njigba holds the highest percentage of tickets of any non-quarterback with 7.8% but only 6.1% of the handle.

The Buckeyes have a couple of other receivers ready to step into the spotlight as Marvin Harrison Jr. comes to mind along with TreVeyon Henderson. Competing for stats with those guys could hinder just how high Smith-Njigba’s statistical ceiling is. The soft handle shows betting experts aren’t thrilled about his chances to become just the second wide receiver to win the award since 1991 (DeVonta Smith and Desmond Howard). Only three wideouts have ever won the Heisman Trophy, and with a star quarterback and star running back also on the Buckeyes, Smith-Njigba has a very high bar to clear. 

Can the Buckeyes’ Running Game Make a Claim?

Speaking of TreVeyon Henderson, the Buckeyes running back is the player with the second most significant difference between ticket percentage (number of bets) and handle percentage (money wagered). As previously mentioned, Stroud leads that category while Henderson checks in second with 9.6% of the handle on just 3.4% of the tickets. At +2000, expert bettors clearly see some value and opportunity in the sophomore back. Third-string tailback Evan Pryor is out for the season with a knee injury, and Master Teague is no longer with the program. That leaves Henderson and Miyan Williams as the only two backs with any experience. They’ll be relied on heavily, and there is a chance Henderson puts up eye-popping touchdown numbers in this high-octane offense.

This has been a Buckeye-centric piece so let’s toss a quick bone to their rival to the North, the Michigan Wolverines. 

What About Wolverines?

One interesting note from the latest information from BetMGM is that 2.5% of the money wagered on the Heisman Trophy futures bet has come in on Cade McNamara and another 2.5% on J.J. McCarthy. The odds are long as McNamara sits +12500 with McCarthy at +5000. You can see the path for how a sharp could see that becoming great value: place a bet on both and hope one emerges as the clear-cut starter (as of now, Jim Harbaugh has not named a starter), hope that Michigan has a great season and the quarterback plays a prominent role in knocking off Ohio State for a second straight year. If the Wolverines are in playoff contention and one quarterback has carried the load in impressive fashion, you can imagine this being a fruitful wager.