At long last, a new name sits atop the Heisman odds throne.
For the better part of the last nine months, Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud has assumed that role. His companions throughout much of the duration have been Alabama’s Bryce Young and USC’s Caleb Williams.
All three are still prominently featured and capable candidates. Heck, Stroud (+ 190) still likely has the easiest path.
But Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker is now the favorite at DraftKings. Hooker (-110) became the chalk just as the Vols’ destruction of Kentucky was getting underway.
In that game, Hooker was methodical and brilliant. He accounted for four touchdowns, completed the majority of his throws and calmly picked apart another ranked team.
For the season, Hooker has scored 25 touchdowns and thrown just one interception. He’s also been the architect of the nation's No. 1 scoring offense.
As of Sunday evening, Hooker was -110 to win the award.
If you have not bet him to win the award yet, however, now is probably not the time. Well, let me rephrase.
Depending on what you believe will happen next week when Tennessee travels to Georgia, perhaps there still is value left in these odds.
A loss to Georgia, and these odds will move somewhat significantly, even if Hooker plays well. A win, and Hooker will be in tremendous position with three very winnable games in regular season on deck.
And to those of you who grabbed Hooker at 50/1 or 60/1, well, next week is a big one for that ticket. The favorite will be redefined one way or another come Saturday.
Away we go.
The Appetizer: Football Tidbits and Observations
1. J.T. Tuimoloau had one of the greatest individual games in recent memory -- and that is not hyperbole
The former No. 1 overall recruit was that good against Ohio State: two sacks, three tackles for loss, two interceptions, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and a touchdown. Ohio State ultimately didn’t cover the 15.5-point spread against Penn State, but the performance from Tuimoloau was one for the ages. NFL scouts are on alert.
2. TCU’s cover against West Virginia was one of the strangest and most unlikely of the year
I was not invested in this game, but when TCU QB Max Duggan heaved the ball toward the end zone on fourth-and-1 with 26 seconds left, having seen West Virginia jump offside, my heart stopped. West Virginia was down three at the time and covering the TCU -7 spread. The heave ultimately resulted in a touchdown. Could Duggan have taken a knee or done pretty much anything at that point with the flag already thrown? Of course. But he didn’t and TCU won by 10. What a brutal loss for WVU backers.
3. Jim Mora Jr. has done an incredible job in his first year at UConn. Seriously
Over the past few years, we’ve highlighted the Huskies’ historic woes plenty of times on this very site. But after beating Boston College 13-3 as an eight-point underdog, UConn has now covered the spread in the last four games. Amazingly, the Huskies have also won four games. (For perspective, they won four total games between 2018 and 2021.) There is still a long way to go, but credit to Mora for making an impact this early.
4. Miami beat Virginia 14-12 on Saturday, and it did so without scoring a touchdown
The Hurricanes failed to cover the three-point spread, and we should probably never talk about this football game again. The game went into OT tied 6-6. After a few more traded field goals, Miami won on a two-point conversion. Gross football game. Gross football season(s). Just, well, gross.
5. For the second week in a row, a team turned the ball over eight times in one game
That team, Wake Forest, was clobbered by Louisville, despite closing as a three-point favorite. Six of Wake’s eight turnovers came in the third quarter. It's been an odd year for the Demon Deacons, although this was a deep, dark turn.
6. College Football Playoff rankings are back this week
As I have stated before, these rankings are a complete and utter waste of time until the one that matters. They exist to manufacture interest and controversy in the postseason. Also, with that acknowledged, I enjoy these pointless shows immensely. My guess is that Tennessee will begin at No. 1.
7. Oh, and #MACtion is back
We have Tuesday night football this week. Thank goodness. Prepare accordingly.
The Buffet: The Five Best Games of the Weekend
1. No. 1 Georgia vs. (-8, 65.5) No. 2 Tennessee
It’s the most important game of the college football season to date, and there isn't much debate there. Tennessee will assume the role of a sizable underdog, although it does so having covered the spread in seven of eight football games this season. Also, in the few hours since the line opened, the Tennessee support has been rolling in. If there was any concern surrounding a team coming off such an overwhelming performance against Kentucky, it’s that the Vols have only played two road games this year. (One went to overtime.) Georgia hasn’t been dominant, having had a few games where the offense and defense just felt off. The Bulldogs didn’t cover the 23-point spread against Florida, although they did play better (at times). As for this game, the home environment will have its say. I'm torn early on.
2. No. 6 Alabama (-13, 58) at No. 15 LSU
One of the most anticipated football games on the calendar has actually been incredibly lopsided in recent years. Alabama has beaten LSU 10 out of the last 11 games, and it took a super team, led by QB Joe Burrow, to break up that streak in 2019. Even that football game was close. In that stretch of 11 seasons, LSU has scored 16 points or less in all but one game (see: Joe Burrow). This year, it feels like points are coming for LSU, and the Baton Rouge crowd will most certainly be ready. But a bye week for Alabama, and specifically Bryce Young, came at just the right time. LSU will make Alabama’s life tough, but the early lean is still toward the Crimson Tide, even at a sizable number.
3. No. 5 Clemson (-3.5, 46.5) at Notre Dame
In completely different ways, both of these football teams remain absolutely perplexing. Notre Dame found a way to lose to Marshall and Stanford. The Irish also have wins at North Carolina and now Syracuse. Clemson does not have a loss, and the Tigers are a respectable 5-3 against the spread. Still, they benched starting QB DJ Uiagalelei for freshman Cade Klubnik last game, and that decision and uncertainty will linger. Uiagalelei is positioned to start, and this will be the second time he's played at Notre Dame. As a true freshman, Uiagalelei threw for 439 yards and scored three touchdowns. The Irish, however, prevailed in OT. It feels like a matter of time for Clemson, and this might be that time.
4. Washington (-4.5, 60.5) vs. No. 24 Oregon State
While the other games mentioned above will receive more love, this one could wind up producing the most fireworks. Both teams are 6-2 entering Week 10, although neither has been dominant ATS. Washington hasn’t covered a spread since Week 4; Oregon State is 2-2 over the past four games. Huskies’ QB Michael Penix Jr. leads the nation in passing yards, although Oregon State has shown already that it can play the style of defense necessary to slow down an offense positioned to throw the ball a great deal. The Beavers limited USC to 17 points (in a loss) earlier this year, although it did so at home. This one is a tougher game to figure, and location will be a factor. While Washington struggled to cover the spread in recent weeks, it is 4-1 ATS when playing at home. Decisions, decisions …
5. Texas (-2, 54.5) at No. 13 Kansas State
The Longhorns will attempt to play spoiler, which is maybe a tad rude but also somewhat true. Texas has had its ups and downs, but the Longhorns are still getting a lot of love from the oddsmakers on the road. For the season, Texas is 5-3 ATS, although the Longhorns have not covered the last two games. K-State, meanwhile, just delivered one of the biggest beatdowns of the entire season. The Wildcats destroyed Oklahoma State as a 2.5-point favorite, and they have covered the spread in four of their last five outings. I’m tempted to back Texas, although this one is going to require a great deal of thought. I’m also interested to see how this line moves throughout the week.
Last Call: Parting Shots on Other Games of Note
Arkansas (-14, 64.5) vs. No. 23 Liberty
This one has plenty of juice. Arkansas is back in rhythm, and Liberty, fresh off handing Hugh Freeze another huge contract, is on a roll. I'm just not certain Liberty has the athletes to keep pace.
No. 20 Wake Forest (-3.5, 54) at No. 21 NC State
Welp, neither team comes into this one thriving. Wake Forest just turned the ball over 38,000 times, and NC State is struggling to find offense with its starting QB out for the year. They're both ranked, although it certainly doesn't feel that way.
Louisville (-9, 55) vs. James Madison
The Cardinals are on a roll. Louisville has covered the spread in three straight, and a team that looked completely lost has momentum. James Madison, however, is a formidable foe.