Bo Nix, Jayden Daniels battle for Heisman favorite role

Nov 18, 2023; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; Heisman Trophy candidate LSU Tigers quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) warms up before their game against the Georgia State Panthers at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Dobbins-USA TODAY Sports

Most questions have been answered with regard to the college football season, but sports-betting fans know there are a few big ones looming as we hit rivalry week.

The Ohio State-Michigan game owns the marquee, but a closer look reveals some additional value among the items on this week’s wagering menu.


The national TV pregame show yappers are serving as de facto social influencers, tipping their collective hand on Heisman Trophy front-runners.

At the top of the list prior to last weekend, Bo Nix took his Oregon offense to new heights and yet saw his odds move backward.

Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. survived the weather — and the then-No. 11 Oregon State Beavers — to lead the Huskies to a narrow 22-20 victory.

Georgia, with an increasing amount of help from quarterback Carson Beck, routed Tennessee 38-10 in Knoxville.

All fine stories, but the guy at the top of the Heisman odds board won’t even be in a conference championship game.

LSU Tigers quarterback Jayden Daniels, a sensational runner and improving passer, was all the talk of those pregame and halftime shows on Saturday, with pundits seemingly trying to talk themselves out of handing Nix the honor.

So Nix throws a school-record-tying six touchdown passes — ALL IN THE FIRST HALF — at Arizona State, while Daniels dominated Georgia State with six TD passes of his own, and two rushing scores.

Ohio State’s do-everything receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. and Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe round out the super seven.

Daniels and Nix are 1-2 in ESPN’s quarterback rating. Daniels, third in passing yards, has thrown 36 TD passes to four interceptions; Nix, fourth in passing yards, has 35 TD passes and only two picks.

Daniels stands alone in the rushing numbers, however, with 1,014 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground.

It’s impossible to read the minds of the more than 900 Heisman voters, but college football fans are likely to have strong opinions about the FanDuel odds list.

As of Monday:

Daniels: -125

Nix: +150

Penix Jr.: +700

Harrison Jr.: +5000

Beck: +8000

Milroe: +15000

BetMGM still has Nix on top at +110, with Daniels close behind at +140 and Penix Jr. at +500.

We believe in the Oregon Ducks taking down Oregon State Friday and following up with a Pac-12 title game triumph at Las Vegas Dec. 1. With Nix leading those victories, the odds should swing toward the Pacific Northwest.

On that subject, Penix Jr. isn’t done yet. With victories over Washington State this week and the Ducks in Las Vegas, Penix Jr. would see his number shoot back toward +200. If you believe in a Huskies Pac-12 title, grab Penix Jr. now.

Daniels has only one game left, a home matchup this week against middling Texas A&M, so his work is largely done — for better or worse. Losses to Mississippi and Alabama are big strikes against him, given the other candidates’ leadership of College Football Playoff-contending teams.

But fans — and voters — in the football-mad SEC know Daniels has done most of his work against the best conference in the country. Some will see value, even at -125.


Three top games, all of which carry College Football Playoff implications, grab Saturday’s spotlight. Each of these selections could carry some betting value if you look at just the right angle.

Florida State Seminoles at Florida Gators, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN, Florida State -6.5

With Florida State’s Jordan Travis injured and out for the season, many were questioning the validity of a Seminoles top-four CFP position entering Tuesday’s latest rankings release.

The unbeaten Seminoles have their hands full against a hungry arch-rival in Gainesville, and, despite a four-game losing streak, the Gators have looked markedly improved.

Almost a touchdown is just too much to give, especially when having only a week to fully integrate backup quarterback Tate Rodemaker. The junior, prior to last Saturday, had thrown 43 passes in four years at FSU, with five touchdowns and five interceptions.

Florida is coming off a narrow loss on the road at then-No. 11 Missouri and will have no trouble focusing on this one.

The bet: Florida +6.5 (multiple outlets).

Oregon State Beavers at Oregon Ducks, Friday at 8:30 p.m. ET, FOX, Oregon -13.5

Nix can see the finish line of his record-setting college career. He has help from a much-improved defense (thanks largely to the hire of coach Dan Lanning, who ran the Georgia defense prior to landing in Eugene) and a Bucky Irving-led ground game that doesn’t allow defenses to target one aspect of the Oregon offense.

Beavers sophomore RB Damien Martinez is special, and Clemson transfer QB DJ Uiagalelei has been a strong leader, but the Ducks have a higher vision and more talent.

This one, though, isn’t likely to get out of hand, and with clear weather in the forecast the Friday night crowd should see plenty of points.

The bet: Oregon teased to -9.5 and parlayed with over 57.5 points (-128 at DraftKings).

Ohio State at Michigan, Saturday at noon ET, FOX; Michigan -3.5.

Wolverines quarterback JJ McCarthy has been similar to Buckeyes QB Kyle McCord: not quite good enough to be the reason his team wins.

Both guys will need help, and Ohio State just seems to have a little more of it — both in depth and with a recency bias.

Michigan inexplicably struggled last week while Ohio State rolled again. The Buckeyes are getting more than a field goal as of early in the week and are not lacking motivation as the No. 2 team in the College Football Playoff rankings prior to Tuesday’s latest release.

We can find a nice plus-money opportunity here.

The bet: Ohio State teased to +7.5 parlayed with over 41.5 points (+112 at DraftKings).

–Field Level Media

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