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2014 Heisman Trophy Odds and Predictions: Early Vegas Favorites and Top Challengers

The college football season is still a couple of months away, but teams are already practicing and preparing for the upcoming season. While there has already been plenty of talk about which teams will have what it takes to contend for one of the spots in the new four-team playoff that will decide the national title, the Heisman Trophy is always a popular topic, as well. Last year, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston followed in Johnny Manziel’s footsteps and became the second-consecutive freshman to take home the award. Looking ahead to 2014, there are plenty of strong candidates that could hoist the trophy, especially after several big name players decided not to leave for the NFL. With that in mind, here is an early look at the top contenders for the Heisman Trophy in the 2014 college football season.

2014 Heisman Trophy Odds and Preview:

The Frontrunners

When talking about the Heisman Trophy, the conversation has to start with defending winner Jamies Winston. Last year, he led the country in passing efficiency and led Florida State to the BCS title while setting an NCAA record with 40 touchdown passes as a freshman. Winston will have a great supporting cast around him again this season and should be able to put up big numbers in a weak ACC. Meanwhile, the Seminoles will have a great shot at repeating as champs. Winning the Heisman Trophy again will be difficult, but Winston is in the right situation to pull it off.

The Oregon Ducks have one of the most explosive offensive systems in the country, and quarterback Marcus Mariota is the centerpiece of the attack. The dual-threat QB threw for 3,665 yards and ran for 715 yards last year, combining for 40 total scores. A late-season knee injury and a bad loss to Arizona ultimately ended his Heisman push, but for much of the year, he was the frontrunner for the award. If he stays healthy, he has the talent and weapons around to pile up incredible offensive numbers for an Oregon team that has a chance to compete for a national title.

He is one of the most explosive players in the country, and Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller’s dual-threat ability could earn him the Heisman in 2014. Miller is 23-0 as a starter during the regular season since Urban Meyer became the coach, and he made major strides as a passer last season while topping 1,000 yards on the ground for the second year in a row. This year, he will shoulder even more of the offensive load with bruising running back Carlos Hyde now in the NFL. Nagging injuries have been an issue in the past, but if Miller is on the field for the entire year, he should have some of the best offensive numbers of any player in the country.

The Other Favorites

The Wisconsin Badgers used a running back tandem last season, but in 2014, Melvin Gordon will have the job to himself. Gordon ran for 1,609 yards last year while averaging an incredible 7.8 yards per carry, and he and fellow back James White combined for 3,053 yards. I’m not saying that Gordon is going to approach 3,000 yards with White now out of the picture, but he could easily surpass 2,000 yards for a Wisconsin offense that emphasizes the run and always has a powerful offensive line.

From a talent standpoint, no running back in the country is on the same level as Georgia’s Todd Gurley. His combination of size and speed is just unfair, and last year, he piled up 1,430 total yards and 16 scores despite being limited to just 202 touches because of an injury. If Gurley is able to get the 300-plus touches of most feature backs, 2,000-plus yards from scrimmage and 20-plus scores are well within reach. Watch out for Gurley in 2014.

UCLA’s football program has been enjoyed a resurgence the past couple of years, and quarterback Brett Hundley has played a major role in the turnaround. He has topped 3,000 yards in both his seasons as the Bruins’ starter, throwing for 53 touchdowns. He can also do damage with his legs, and in addition to rushing for 20 scores the past two years, he ran for more than 700 yards last year alone. Hundley’s size, arm strength and ability to make plays outside of the pocket has him on the radar of NFL scouts as a potential top pick, and the same set of skills give him a chance to contend for the Heisman Trophy in 2014.

Be sure to heck out updated 2014 Heisman and LIVE college football odds daily this season right here on BettingOnlineUSA.

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