FOX Sports Betting Analyst
It’s that great time of year when college football odds are on the board for Week 0.
While the Week 0 matchups aren’t all that eye-popping, there has been some movement in the offseason odds.
For instance, Heisman Trophy odds are intriguing at this point. And since reigning Heisman winner and 2023 favorite Caleb Williams is in action for Week 0, let’s do a little mishmash, shall we?
BetMGM senior trader Cameron Drucker helps us dive into Heisman odds and a couple of the notable games on a limited college football Week 0 oddsboard.
USC’s Williams is the rightful +500 favorite in BetMGM’s Heisman Trophy odds market. But one of the more popular players early on hails from another perceived national championship contender, Ohio State. The Buckeyes’ wideout Marvin Harrison opened 10 spots behind Williams as the +2500 11th choice.
Interestingly, Harrison is now 12th in Heisman odds, but his odds have actually shortened to +2000, meaning a $10 bet would win $200 for a $210 total payout.
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“Harrison is currently one of our larger liabilities, unsurprisingly,” Drucker said. “He has the most money on him among all candidates and has as good a shot as anybody if he can play up to his abilities and have the requisite QB play.”
Who that quarterback will be is still up for debate. C.J. Stroud moved on via the NFL Draft to the Houston Texans. At the moment, Kyle McCord and Devin Brown are in a battle for the Buckeyes’ starting QB job.
Along with taking the most money thus far in BetMGM’s digital market — online/mobile wagering — Harrison also leads the ticket count.
Go For Two
Williams, who could well be the No. 1 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, is first aiming for a second straight Heisman. Oh, and a national championship for his USC Trojans. He’d surely prefer the latter over the former, with Southern Cal currently BetMGM’s +1400 sixth choice to win the title.
Williams is third in ticket count and fifth in money at BetMGM. But at that short +500 price, he’s not a liability for the book.
“There’s not a massive amount on Williams thus far. He would currently be a smaller winner for us,” Drucker said. “Obviously, he is as talented as any QB in the country and plays in a system that will allow him to put up big numbers. When you combine that with a lot of prime-time games and talent around him, it’s pretty evident why he’s the favorite before the season.”
Williams leads the host Trojans against San Jose State in a Week 0 contest, with USC a massive 30.5-point favorite for an 8 p.m. ET Saturday kickoff.
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The Quarterback Club
A couple more QBs are on the rise in BetMGM’s Heisman Trophy odds market. LSU’s Jayden Daniels opened at +1600 and is now the +900 second choice. Daniels is fifth in ticket count and sixth in money on BetMGM’s digital platforms.
Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy is also making waves, jumping from +2500 to +1600 while taking the fourth-most tickets and third-most money.
“Both have received a fair amount of action as we approach Week 0, with McCarthy being the larger liability as of right now,” Drucker said. “The public seems to love Michigan, so it’s no surprise that J.J. is a popular Heisman pick so far.”
In BetMGM’s College Football Playoff championship odds, Michigan is the +800 fourth choice, behind Georgia (+225), Alabama (+600) and Ohio State (+700). And LSU is No. 5 in CFP odds at +1200.
A handful of bettors, with more than a handful of money, are leaning into a long shot on the Heisman Trophy odds board.
“Interestingly enough, a wide receiver not named Marvin Harrison Jr. has received a massive amount of action thus far. Xavier Worthy of Texas is the most popular guy outside of the top 20 or so,” Drucker said.
Worthy has taken just 0.5% of all Heisman Trophy bets. But those tickets are adding up to 4.2% of all money in the Heisman market, which puts Worthy at No. 8 in dollars wagered on. And with his opening and current odds of +6600, Worthy is definitely a liability for BetMGM.
“He seems likely to be Quinn Ewers’ favorite target come this fall. It will be interesting to see the type of numbers he can put up,” Drucker said.
Zeroing in on Week 0
There are only seven games involving FBS teams this week, with all seven on Saturday. Kicking off the college football betting season is Navy vs. No. 13 Notre Dame at 2:30 p.m. ET on a neutral field in Dublin.
Notre Dame opened as a 20.5-point favorite in BetMGM’s college football Week 0 odds market. The Fighting Irish then spent much of the summer at -19.5 but are now back at the -20.5 opener.
“Surely we will be rooting for the Midshipmen come Saturday,” Drucker said. “We already have small liability building up on the Irish, and it will only grow before kickoff.”
As noted above, No. 6 USC hosts San Jose State, with oddsmakers making the Trojans favorites of more than four touchdowns. The lopsided matchup is turning off some bettors, who are opting for a more competitive Week 0 contest.
“San Jose State-USC is an obvious candidate [for good action], with the returning Heisman winner getting back on the field,” Drucker said, alluding to Williams. “But the other game that is surprisingly drawing a lot of interest is Ohio-San Diego State. A lot of sharp action on Ohio so far, as we’ve seen the spread [drop] a bit. But it will be a grueling matchup between two very physical and well-coached teams.”
In a 7 p.m. ET kickoff on FS1, BetMGM opened the host Aztecs as 3.5-point favorites. But thanks to that sharp money on the underdog Bobcats, the line dipped to San Diego State -2.5 by Monday.
Patrick Everson is a sports betting analyst for FOX Sports and senior reporter for VegasInsider.com. He is a distinguished journalist in the national sports betting space. He’s based in Las Vegas, where he enjoys golfing in 110-degree heat. Follow him on Twitter: @PatrickE_Vegas
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