Photo via Brad Penner, USA Today Sports

The Heisman Trophy race for 2017 will be wide open and feature 5 players with Texas high school ties. According to Bovada, there are 20 players listed with odds of winning this year’s Heisman. USC quarterback Sam Darnold remains the betting favorite at +400.

As usual, the list is composed of all offensive players and the only skill positions are quarterbacks (14) and running backs (6), which makes the award seem more like the offensive MVP than the best player in college football.

Baker Mayfield (QB Oklahoma, Lake Travis) has the highest odds of winning the Heisman out of the players from Texas high schools with +750, followed by JT Barrett (QB Ohio State, Wichita Falls Rider) +800, Jalen Hurts (QB Alabama, Channelview) +1600, Jarrett Stidham (QB Auburn, Stephenville) +2000, and Shane Buechele (QB Texas, Arlington Lamar) +5000.

Photo via Mark D. Smith, USA TODAY Sports

Last season, Baker Mayfield came in third place as a Heisman finalist, behind Clemson’s Deshaun Watson and eventual winner Lamar Jackson of Louisville. Mayfield completed 254 passes on 358 attempts for 3,965 yards, he had a 71% completion rating and a total QBR of 91.8. This season, Oklahoma has 3 key games that Mayfield needs to use as a platform to build his Heisman resume: September 9th at Ohio State, October 14th in the Red River Rivalry against Texas, and November 4th in the Battle of Bedlam with Oklahoma State.

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J.T. Barrett threw for 2,555 yards and 24 touchdowns while rushing for 845 yards and 9 touchdowns. Barrett completed 233 passes on 379 attempts with a 61.5% completion rating and QBR of 135.3. A dual threat, JT averaged 4.1 yards per carry on 205 rushes for 845 yards. This season, Ohio State has 4 key games for Barrett to showcase his Heisman worth; September 9th vs Oklahoma, October 28th vs Penn State, November 11th vs Michigan State, and last but not least, November 25th at The Big House against arch rival Michigan.

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The Tide didn’t quite roll into the offseason the victors, as planned, but Jalen Hurts made the best adjustment possible with an abrupt offensive coordinator change leading up to the National Championship against Clemson. Hurts played just one season in Lane Kiffin’s system winning it all as a freshman, but Kiffin was replaced by Steve Sarkisian and Jalen was left to rely on an unfamiliar voice in his headset.

Hurts completed 240 passes on 382 attempts for 2,780 yards, with 23 touchdowns and 9 interceptions he had a 62.8% completion rating and a QBR of 131.9, Hurts also rushed for 954 yards on 191 attempts with 13 touchdowns. Alabama will play 4 key games this season and Hurts will play a major role in all of them; September 2nd vs Florida State, October 7th at Texas A&M, November 4th vs LSU, and the infamous Iron Bowl November 25th at Auburn.

Sep 4, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Baylor Bears quarterback Jarrett Stidham (3) throws a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter against the Southern Methodist Mustangs at Gerald J. Ford Stadium. Baylor won 56-21. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Jarrett Stidham didn’t get the opportunity to step on the field during the 2016 season and instead decided to take his talents to the southeast, Auburn to be exact. Stidham played one season at Baylor accumulating 1,265 passing yards, 12 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions with 75 completions on 109 attempts; he also had a 68.8% completion rating and a QBR of 199.

Stidham will have to make the transition from the Big 12 with poor defensive play, to the SEC, with dominant defensive play. Auburn will have five key games to show what he’s made of: September 9th at Clemson, October 14th at LSU, Nov 4th at Texas A&M, Nov 11th vs Georgia, and his first ever Iron Bowl November 25th vs Alabama.

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Shane Buechele will be asked to lead the new look Texas Longhorns in 2017 in hopes of returning to the days of competing for Big 12 and National Championships. As a freshman, Buechele completed 236 passes on 391 attempts for 2,958 yards, 11 interceptions, and 21 touchdowns; his QBR was 136 and he had a 60.4% completion rating. The Longhorns have 3 key games that Buechele will need to shine in; September 16th at USC, Red River Rivalry October 14th, and October 21st vs Oklahoma State.

With a lot of the candidates facing one another in key games, the Heisman race is sure to be intense.


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