Wagering on the Heisman Trophy race is like playing a game of internet gaming bingo, there are so many factors outside of your control that you really need luck on your side.
Entering the weekend, Penn State junior running back Saquon Barkley was the unquestioned Heisman front-runner, as he had a massive 72% of market bets over the past two weeks.
The second closest competitor was last year’s winner, Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, but he accumulated just 10% of the bets. Before his lackluster effort at Northwestern, Barkley was backed at a best price of just 11/10, with some bookmakers offering below evens at 10/11.
Since the start of the 2017 college football season, the order of most backed looks like this: Saquon Barkley, the aforementioned Jackson, Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield and USC quarterback Sam Darnold. Mayfield appears to be the only current challenger to Barkley with the bookies, as he’s showing a best price of 5/2, while Rudolph is third favorite at 10s. Don’t forget about Stanford RB Bryce Love, who’s putting up insanely ridiculous numbers, yet still flying well under the radar.
Barkley is still an out of this world college football star, it’s just that after today, we learned he’s not a shoe-in for trophy just yet.
Northwestern football coach Pat Fitzgerald and defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz put together a very superlative game plan for effectively stopping Barkley. It worked exceedingly well for almost three whole quarters, as Barkley had eight carries for -1 yards rushing at halftime. Nearing the end of the third quarter he had 10 carries for -7 yards (and a touchdown though which made his box score line rather odd).
However, with 2:13 left in the quarter, he broke off a 53 yard rushing touchdown, and all of a sudden an abysmal statistical day became serviceable. NU taught us that Barkley is human after all, he can be stopped, and the Wildcats defense brought him back down to Earth.
From an overall team standpoint, the individual performance of Barkley mattered very little as Northwestern was thoroughly dominated from start to finish. The Wildcats offense was exceedingly inept that the solid effort from their defense totally went to waste. Penn State crushed Northwestern 31-7, with the Wildcats only score coming in meaningless garbage time.
Barkley finished with a solid 75 yards rushing on 16 carries and two touchdowns. He added two grabs for nine yards receiving.
After the game, Penn State coach James Franklin articulated the selflessness and team-oriented philosophy of Saquon Barkley. “He’s never once asked for the ball more, never asked for more touches, never fussed at the offensive line,” said Franklin.
“Never fussed at the coaching staff, he’s an unselfish guy that gets the big picture in a circumstance that most guys wouldn’t.”
“A lot of attention and focus on Saquon Barkley right now, but his attention and focus is on the team.”
41,061 spectators, as well as NFL scouts from seven NFL teams (including seven representatives from the Chicago Bears alone) witnessed the knowledge, skills and abilities of Barkley, who’s currently rated as a more or less consensus top five overall pick and the number one back in next April’s draft.
While today was certainly an off game for Saquon Barkley, it doesn’t mean that he still won’t the Heisman trophy, it only means that he’s no longer the runaway front-running contender.
We’ll see what happens after this weekend, but prior to today Barkley was certainly the leading candidate to hoist the glorious hardware at the Downtown Athletic Club come December, according to ESPN College Football Final Studio Analysts Joey Galloway and Jesse Palmer. College Football Final Studio Host Adnan Virk was gracious enough to join us on The TSB Show this past week, and we covered Saquon Barkley in detail.
You can hear the audio via Sound Cloud below:
You can read what Virk had to say about Barkley, Penn State football, and their playoff chances over at this link.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now and Minute Media. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and Chicago Now.
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