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2020 Heisman Trophy betting odds: Lawrence, Fields co-faves

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Yes, it’s only February but that doesn’t mean it’s too early to have a look at the betting odds to win the 2020 Heisman Trophy as college football’s best player. We now know who has declared for the NFL draft and most of the transfers have gone through, making it a good time to find some value on the odds board.

To no surprise, this year’s list of Heisman candidates is chock-full of quarterbacks with just a few running backs thrown in the mix. Despite Ohio State defensive end Chase Young’s fourth-place finish last year, no defensive players currently crack the Top 25.

The 2020 favorites begin with two quarterbacks who will lead two of the most prominent programs in the nation: Justin Fields and Trevor Lawrence. Both have current odds of +400, according to the SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas (as of Feb. 24, 2020).

Fields, last year’s third-place finisher in the Heisman race, threw for 3,272 yards with a 41:3 touchdown-to-interception ratio in 2019, leading the Buckeyes to a 13-1 record — their only loss coming to Clemson in the CFP semifinals.

Lawrence put up very impressive numbers last season as well, throwing for 3,665 yards with a 36:8 touchdown-to-interception ratio, but finished seventh in the Heisman voting, partially due to a weak schedule in 2019. The Tigers rolled through ACC play before sneaking past the Buckeyes in the national semifinal and losing to LSU in the title game.

Quarterbacks Spencer Rattler (Oklahoma), Sam Ehlinger (Texas), and Jamie Newman (Georgia) round out the Top 5 favorites before running backs Travis Etienne (Clemson) and Chuba Hubbard (Oklahoma State) appear on the odds board at +2,000.

Those looking for longshot quarterbacks might want to look at Tua Tagovailoa replacement Mac Jones at +2,500 and LSU pivot Myles Brennan at +3,000.

Odds to win 2020 Heisman Trophy

PLAYER SCHOOL ODDS TO WIN HEISMAN TROPHY
Justin Fields Ohio State +400
Trevor Lawrence Clemson +400
Spencer Rattler Oklahoma +1,200
Sam Ehlinger Texas +1,400
Jamie Newman Georgia +1,400
Travis Etienne Clemson +2,000
Chuba Hubbard Oklahoma State +2,000
Ian Book Notre Dame +2,000
Mac Jones Alabama +2,500
Myles Brennan LSU +3,000
Bo Nix Auburn +3,000
D’Eriq King Miami +3,000
Adrian Martinez Nebraska +3,000
Sam Howell North Carolina +3,000
Kedon Slovis USC +4,000
Sean Clifford Penn State +4,000
Najee Harris Alabama +4,000
Kyle Trask Florida +4,000
Spencer Sanders Oklahoma State +4,000
Kellon Mond Texas A&M +5,000
Master Teague III Ohio State +6,000
Tyler Shough Oregon +6,000
Brock Purdy Iowa State +6,000
CJ Verdell Oregon +6,000
Charlie Brewer Baylor +6,000

Heisman Trophy Betting Trends

Here are a few trends to keep in mind before placing a bet on college football’s biggest individual award.

Quarterbacks have dominated this award over the last 20 years with 17 Heisman winners playing under center. Only one non-skill position player has ever won this prestigious trophy (Charles Woodson in 1997) and the last wide receiver to take home the award was Desmond Howard in 1990.

The Heisman trophy winner usually comes from a team with a shot at winning the national title. Since 2000, 13 Heisman trophy winners have played for teams that made it to the national championship game (including Reggie Bush who later had his trophy vacated for breaking NCAA rules). If you’re handicapping the Heisman you might want to consider looking at which teams have the best chance of winning the title on the NCAA futures odds board.

Historically seniors dominated this award but even though Joe Burrow won the Heisman in 2019, he is one of only two seniors to win the Heisman in the last 13 years. Over that span, two freshmen, four sophomores, and five juniors have claimed the prize.

Heisman Trophy History

A quick look at recent Heisman trophy winners, their schools, and the position they played.

HEISMAN TROPHY WINNER SCHOOL YEAR
Joe Burrow LSU 2019
Kyler Murray Oklahoma 2018
Baker Mayfield Oklahoma 2017
Lamar Jackson Louisville 2016
Derrick Henry Alabama 2015
Marcus Mariota Oregon 2014
Jameis Winston Florida State 2013
Johnny Manziel Texas A&M 2012
Robert Griffin III Baylor 2011
Cam Newton Auburn 2010
Mark Ingram JR Alabama 2009
Sam Bradford Oklahoma 2008
Tim Tebow Florida 2007
Troy Smith Ohio State 2006
Reggie Bush* USC 2005
Matt Leinart USC 2004
Jason White Oklahoma 2003
Carson Palmer USC 2002
Eric Crouch Nebraska 2001
Chris Weinke Florida State 2000

Longshots to consider when betting the Shoemaker Mile

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Monday’s Shoemaker Miles Stakes at Santa Anita Park is a great race for a number of reasons. For starters, the Shoemaker Mile is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” race that offers the winner a guaranteed spot in the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland.

Watch the Shoemaker Mile on Monday, May 25 from 6-8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

The race also features last year’s Preakness Stakes winner, War of Will, making his season debut. Despite his triumphs on the dirt in 2019, War of Will started his career on the turf and his pedigree suggests that he’s very likely to be just as successful on the grass. That said, the Shoemaker Mile will be his first start off of a six-month break, and I’m going to try to take a swing or two with some horses who could upset the apple cart at longer odds.

Let’s start out with the horse on the rail, Without Parole. He won the Group 1 St. James’s Palace Stakes going a mile at Ascot back in 2018. His three other career wins have all came at this mile distance as well. Granted, he hasn’t won in six races since the St. James’s Palace but he did finish a fast-closing third two starts ago in a much tougher U.S. debut in the TVG Breeders’ Cup MileIrad Ortiz Jr. rode Without Parole in that race and he will reclaim the mount on him again on Monday.

Without Parole has only had one race this year and it was in the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational in which he finished second to last. However, he had several excuses right from the start of that race when he got squeezed coming out of the gate. He also raced in traffic throughout and got cut off several times in the stretch before Frankie Dettori — who had come from Europe to ride him at Gulfstream — finally just wrapped up on him. The Pegasus World Cup Turf also was a race that didn’t allow him to run on Lasix (furosemide) after he’d shown significant improvement racing on Lasix for the first time at the Breeders’ Cup.

Stream the 2020 Shoemaker Mile live here

How much of a factor might Lasix be for some horses? Well, let’s next look at the horse who finished last in the Pegasus World Cup Turf: Next Shares. In his following start (back on Lasix) in the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile Stakes, Next Shares finished third (beaten just a neck) to River Boyne. Both Next Shares and River Boyne return in the Shoemaker Mile and I prefer the former as a pace play who has plenty of back-class. If you rewatch the Kilroe Mile, Next Shares covered a lot more ground than River Boyne. With a similar effort, Next Shares could certainly turn the tables.

The other thing to like about Next Shares is that his trainer, Richard Baltas, has entered speedster Neptune’s Storm in the Shoemaker Mile. That horse, along with Voodoo Song, should ensure a very brisk pace up front — they’ll also be kept honest by Blitzkrieg and War of Will, both of whom usually race on or near the lead. All of that speed adds up to good news for Next Shares. He’s a Grade 1 winner who has always done his best running when he’s had some pace to run into. The other two keys for him (like all stalking or closing-type runners) is clear running room late, and hopefully he’ll get that with Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez taking the mount.

Lastly, we should take a look at True Valour. It’s hard to make much of an excuse for his flat finish in the Kilroe last out, but he’s truly performed better than what his results on paper might indicate. In the Thunder Road Stakes in February, he looked pretty keen early and it took him a few strides to settle down without throwing his head around and fighting his rider. Turning for home, it was clear that jockey Andrea Atzeni had plenty of horse under him but was just waiting for some running room. It ended up coming too late because River Boyne was in a better spot and had already taken command. True Valour did split horses nicely in the closing stages and was half a jump away from finishing second.

If you go back to the Breeders’ Cup Mile, True Valour had excuses there, too. He was up on heels early and he again took a little bit of time to settle down into a comfortable stride. Then, turning for him, he was just waiting for running room but instead got stuck behind a wall of horses. True Valour ended up steadying pretty badly and lost all chance at that point. I’m a little worried about how headstrong he tends to be early in races, but there’s a scenario here that could have at least two horses battling for the lead early and opening up some daylight on the rest of the field. That means he’ll be less likely to be running up on anyone’s heels and it also ensures that he’ll have a nice setup. Whether he can navigate clear passage late in the race is a separate matter.

Longshot Selections

#1 Without Parole

#3 Next Shares

#2 True Valour

Watch the Shoemaker Mile on Monday, May 25 from 6-8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

How to bet an exacta on a horse race

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Betting an exacta can present a challenge on several levels.

There is, of course, the primary need to analyze past performances and decide which horses are going to finish first and second.

Yet because of the inherently lower payoffs as opposed to what you’ll find in a Pick 3 or Pick 4, you’ll need to structure your wagers effectively in order to turn your selections into a profitable wager.

For starters, an exacta can be a simple wager. If you like two horses equally, you can just box them in the exacta and collect so long as they finish 1-2 in any order. If you like one of them a little more, you can then bet more on the one you prefer, say $10 on a 1-2 exacta and $5 on 2-1.

If you’re a little more uncertain, make sure you structure your bet around the size of the field and the probable payoffs.

If you like a longshot, the higher probable payoffs give you the cushion you need to wager on more combinations and still turn a nice profit.

But if you’re dealing with favorites or horses at relatively low odds, you have to wager more efficiently to preserve your profit.

In a field of six or less, you’re best to either focus on one horse or box two of them instead of boxing three or more horses because of the small payouts the bet will most likely generate.

In a field of seven, a wise strategy would be to box your top two choices and then, if you are worried about other horses, play them top and/or bottom other the other horses. For example, box 1-2, then bet 1-2 over 3-4 and 3-4 over 1-2. This way you are getting coverage on four horses without having to box them.

Once you get an eight-horse field, as long as there is not an overwhelming favorite, you can expand the number of horses you box since the payoffs will typically be higher, giving you a better opportunity to offset the inevitable array of losing tickets in a boxed wager.