Why Justin Herbert Can Win The 2019 Heisman Trophy

The 2019 college football season is just a few weeks old, but the race for the Heisman Trophy – as well as those four spots in the College Football Playoff – is alive and well.

Clemson and Alabama still own the top two spots in the college football rankings, but they aren’t necessarily the teams producing the Heisman winner in 2019. Well, the Crimson Tide might, but the competition for college football’s most coveted individual award is as heated as ever.

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa leads the way with the best odds at the moment, but he’s far from alone in a star-studded field. If you locate some sports betting sites where you can bet on college football, he’s undeniably the first name you need to think about clicking.

But Tua isn’t the only guy putting up crazy numbers. Jalen Hurts may be the best dual-threat quarterback in the nation, while Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor has the Badgers looking like potential title threats.

Let’s not forget about hot starts from Joe Burrow or Sam Ehlinger, either.

Of all of the intriguing Heisman hopefuls, though, it may be Oregon Ducks star Justin Herbert who is the most interesting. He certainly started off the year amongst Heisman hopefuls that were being overlooked.

Here’s a quick list of reasons why Justin Herbert just may be the most compelling option to take home the hardware at the end of the year:

Herbert’s Numbers Are Elite

The first (and biggest) reason why Justin Herbert has a great shot at winning the 2019 Heisman Trophy is that he’s got about as good of numbers as anyone.

Tua Tagovailoa is supposedly the #1 option right now and rightfully so. But the Crimson Tide star only has three more passing touchdowns than Herbert and less than 200 extra passing yards.

Neither quarterback has tossed a single interception on the year.

There are side arguments for and against both quarterbacks, to be sure. But as things stand, Tua is putting up enough numbers to garner serious Heisman consideration. With Herbert’s production looking comparable, he’s statistically very much in the running to be voted the best player in college football.

Oregon’s Only Loss Was to Auburn

It’s early, but the Ducks are 13th in the nation, 3-1 and still in a position to make a run at a big bowl game or perhaps even a spot in the 2019 College Football Playoff.

Maybe that ends up being a reach, but Oregon – nor Herbert – should be penalized too harshly for a very tough 27-21 loss in their first game of the year. Somebody had to lose that brutal matchup and Oregon was even clinging to a lead late in the game before losing.

Auburn is about as good as anyone and is ranked 7th right now at 4-0. That’s as “good” of a loss as anyone can have on their resume. Not only does it not end Oregon’s season early in the year, but it’s not going to be used as a deterrent for anyone interesting in vouching for Herbert.

Herbert was plenty fine in that game. He was efficient enough, put up 242 passing yards and a touchdown against the 19th best defense in the nation (55th versus the pass) and had his team in position for a huge win.

It didn’t work out how Herbert and the Ducks would have liked, but they’ve bounced back nicely with three straight wins. Nobody should be holding this one against them.

Opportunity Knocks

Herbert has passed the eye test for Heisman voters to this point and he’s neck-and-neck with all of the other top contenders. He’s not being graded as such from a Heisman betting odds perspective, though, and a huge part of that is his schedule.

That Auburn game has to be used as a positive, but Herbert will have plenty of chances to prove his worth as a legit Heisman candidate. Oregon’s October 5th battle against 15th ranked California is next up on the docket, while future showdowns with Washington (17th), USC (21st) and a potential spot in the Pac-12 title game could all aid Herbert’s cause.

There is even a spot against unranked opponents where big outings could lift Herbert’s stock. Arizona State presently ranks 20th in points allowed per game and a strong showing in a difficult matchup could make Herbert’s season all the more impressive.

It won’t hurt to have some cakewalk matchups to beef up his numbers, either. Ahead on the schedule are Washington State (allowing 32.7 points per game) and Arizona (29.5). Those are two of several matchups that appear to be very favorable on paper and could help Herbert add to an already interesting Heisman resume.

Shorthanded Offense

The last big reason to get excited about Justin Herbert in the 2019 Heisman Trophy race is that he’s been putting up great numbers (and winning football games) without a fully healthy offense.

The likes of Juwan Johnson, Mycash Pittman and Brenden Schooler have all missed time due to injuries:

Pittman was having a great summer before hurting his shoulder, Johnson transferred from Penn State and looked to be an interesting addition and Schooler was starting to carve out a role for himself after converting from defensive back.

Oregon has got along fine without these three wide receivers, but having a fully healthy supporting cast will only boost their depth, versatility and upside as a whole.

Getting those bodies back will ultimately make the Ducks a little more dangerous and in turn, give Herbert’s already underrated Heisman odds a much better chance against a loaded field.

Ultimately, there is no denying that Justin Herbert is fighting an uphill battle this year. He’s been under-manned, Oregon lost immediately in week one and he’s going up against an absolutely loaded Heisman field.

It’s going to take sustained elite production from Herbert, Oregon staving off bad losses and the other top Heisman contenders slowing down. But Herbert is already right there in the thick of it. His accuracy, efficiency and overall production have him as a serious Heisman hopeful and considering he’s somehow an underdog in this competition, he’s quickly become a heck of a lot of fun to root for.

Luckily for sports bettors, this isn’t just a practice in pride or fandom. Betting on Herbert to win the Heisman (+3300 odds at most sports betting sites) could also be absurdly profitable if things break just right for him the rest of the way.