Heisman hype: Bet on Penn State star Barkley
By Matt Youmans
VSiN senior editor
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A running back can win the Heisman Trophy. It’s not just a rumor, and there is no rule against it. Penn State junior Saquon Barkley can make it happen this year.
Of course, quarterbacks get the hottest girls on campus and the magazine covers. In this era, media members and voters tend to be mesmerized by passing stats and hypnotized to hype quarterbacks.
Since 2000, the award has been passed to a quarterback 14 of 17 times. The list includes several who went on to NFL greatness … Chris Weinke, Jason White, Troy Smith and Tim Tebow, to name more than a few.
College football has changed dramatically. From 1972 to 1983, the Heisman was handed to a running back 12 consecutive times. Seriously, the list includes some legends of the game … Archie Griffin, Tony Dorsett, Earl Campbell, Billy Sims, Charles White, George Rogers, Marcus Allen and Herschel Walker.
The running back candidates for the 2017 season have NFL scouts salivating. Barkley is drawing comparisons to Ezekiel Elliott, the No. 4 pick of last year’s draft by the Dallas Cowboys and the league’s leading rusher as a rookie.
Barkley has a legitimate shot to be Penn State’s first Heisman winner since John Cappelletti, another running back, in 1973.
As a sophomore, Barkley rushed for 1,496 yards and 18 touchdowns, and he also caught 28 passes for 402 yards and five touchdowns. His memorable Rose Bowl performance — 25 carries for 194 yards, including a 79-yard touchdown run — against a strong Southern California defense was no fluke.
The Nittany Lions suffered a crushing 52-49 defeat in Pasadena, with Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold stealing the spotlight. That game catapulted Darnold to the top of the Heisman board when the Westgate sports book opened the odds in April. (https://www.vsin.com/darnold-mayfield-top-heisman-trophy-odds-board/) The top eight candidates, according to the odds, are quarterbacks.
Barkley, listed ninth at 20-1 odds, is a good bet partly because he stars for a preseason Top 10 team. He will get plenty of hype in the Big Ten, where he’s got two showcase games that offer opportunities for more national exposure.
The Nittany Lions should start 6-0 before hosting Michigan on Oct. 21 and playing at Ohio State on Oct. 28, and Barkley will need to produce big numbers to have a shot to overtake the quarterbacks in the voting. He’s more than capable of winning the award, it’s not just a rumor.
South Point opening college lines
Chris Andrews, the South Point sports book director, announced he will open college Week 1 lines on Thursday, and lines on more than 60 of the season’s top games will be posted Monday. Andrews also will post regular-season win totals on all FBS teams on June 2.