If Ollie Gordon confounds oddsmakers, a $100 wager made today would earn $15,000.
STILLWATER — Ollie Gordon said it so casually, it felt like he was talking about his New Year’s resolution.
“I feel like the Heisman Trophy has to come back to Stillwater,” Gordon said after the Texas Bowl. “I just feel like that’s a huge thing.”
Barry Sanders is the only Oklahoma State player to win it, for his 1988 season in which he rushed for 2,628 yards and 27 touchdowns. With the national championship game over, Gordon’s campaign starts now, and, according to the odds, he already has a lot of catching up to do.
FanDuel Sportsbook posted its 2024 Heisman Trophy odds last week and Gordon has the 45th-best odds (+15000) to win. For those keeping score at home, a successful $100 bet on Gordon would earn $15,000.
Why the long odds?
Why is Gordon, the reigning Doak Walker Award winner who finished No. 7 in Heisman voting in 2023, listed behind Texas Tech quarterback Behren Morton (+12000) and UCF quarterback KJ Jefferson (+1200)?
“It comes down to you need to be either a prolific quarterback or on a title contender,” said Douglas Farmer, who writes about college football betting for Covers.com. “And Ollie Gordon is obviously not a prolific quarterback and all due respect to Oklahoma State and the wonderful season they just had, they’re at 300-1 to win the national championship next year. They’re not a national title contender and that’s going to doom Heisman hopes.”
Gordon led the nation with 1,732 rushing yards and was second with 21 rushing touchdowns. He won the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation’s top running back and earned unanimous All-America honors.
He finished seventh in the Heisman voting. Gordon received a first-place vote, a second-place vote and 24 third-place votes. His 31 total points were miles behind winning LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels (2,029) and runner-up Washington quarterback Michael Penix (1,701).
So does Gordon think he could return the Heisman Trophy to Stillwater 35 seasons after Sanders won it?
“Oh yeah, yes sir, I believe it,” Gordon said. “Because if you look at it, our line is coming back, our receivers are coming back. I mean we could have another great year.”
The viability of Gordon’s Heisman quest
Since 2000, 20 quarterbacks have won Heisman Trophies. Running backs Mark Ingram (2009), Derrick Henry (2015) and receiver Devonta Smith (2020) are the only non-quarterbacks to do it. They all won national championships with Alabama the year of their Heisman win.
Team success is critical for the individual Heisman Trophy chances. Farmer called it a narrative award, not a merit award.
Farmer thinks three losses for a Heisman contender’s team is the modern-day limit, considering LSU lost three games this season and quarterback Jayden Daniels won the award by a relatively narrow margin.
Factors in Ollie’s favor
Of the six players who beat him in the 2023 Heisman voting, only one, Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe, is returning for the 2024 season.
The Cowboys are also bringing back key offensive pieces, which is what gives Gordon confidence that 2024 could be a special season. Four senior linemen have announced returns along with quarterback Alan Bowman and receivers Brennan Presley and Rashod Owens. The Cowboy offense has every reason to improve next season and it will open the year with Gordon as the lead back, not the timeshare he played the first three games of 2023 in.
There is a path, Farmer says, for Gordon to be in the 2024 Heisman Trophy conversation. But it’s a difficult one, he’ll have to average more than 200 yards a game.
“If he can get Oklahoma State to the Big 12 Championship Game and threaten Barry Sanders’ Oklahoma State record for single-season rushing yards, which is also the college football record of 2,628 in a season… there’s going to be a conversation,” Farmer said. “Less than any Big 12 Championship Game there won’t be as much of a conversation.”