Heisman Odds Analysis, Week 5: When to Buy, Fade Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa

Heisman Odds Analysis, Week 5: When to Buy, Fade Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa article feature image

USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Tua Tagovailoa and Will Grier

  • Tua Tagovailoa is the consensus Heisman favorite, and Alabama's schedule is incredibly easy over the next month.
  • Ken Barkley tells you how to bet the 2018 Heisman race, including when you should buy and bet against Tua.

Alabama-mania has swept the nation.

I wrote yesterday about how the Tide’s price to win the College Football Playoff was dropping rapidly; and on one offshore site, it got to about -250 before moving to -130 (close to where the rest of the market has them).

Alabama’s quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, is also a part of that phenomenon. He’s now -135 to win the Heisman Trophy.

While Alabama still has all of its work ahead of it to make the playoff (with games against LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn before a possible SEC title game with Georgia), Tua’s body of work just needs to keep growing against ANY opponent.

The past couple weeks, I predicted this would happen (and it was easily predictable, I deserve no credit) because Alabama’s schedule was going to become so easy. Tua is going to keep accumulating statistics at an absurd rate, provided that he plays large parts of the games (and this week against ULL might be an example where he does not).

Much like Alabama’s season, I think the Heisman will be won or lost in those three games later in the year (and then possibly in the fourth if the opponent is indeed Georgia).

While Tua is playing those elite opponents, West Virginia’s Will Grier — who has a higher completion percentage, more passing yards and more touchdowns than Tua right now — will be playing Oklahoma in the regular-season finale (and then probably again a week later in the Big 12 title game).

Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins (+500) will be playing Michigan and then probably Wisconsin. There are plenty of high-profile games left for the legend of Tua to stumble and for the other contenders to emerge in big moments.

Those games just aren’t coming any time soon, though. So get ready for more Tua. A lot more.

Have the 10-Win Teams Changed?

I talk all the time about getting to that nine- to 10-win level if you want serious Heisman consideration. Well, safe to say teams such as Virginia Tech and Arizona are unlikely to reach 10 wins now.

Same for Mississippi State, which is tragic for my super-longshot Nick Fitzgerald futures. Which teams are now best-positioned to hit 10 wins in the Power 5 conferences? Here are my thoughts:

ACC: Clemson, Miami, Duke (Boston College dropped out from last week)

Big Ten: Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin (no changes)

Big 12: Oklahoma, West Virginia (Oklahoma State dropped out)

Pac 12: Stanford, Washington, Oregon, Cal (Oregon lost, but look at its schedule and tell me where the third loss is…at Utah maybe?)

SEC: Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Kentucky

Kentucky swaps in for Mississippi State, as the Wildcats’ remaining schedule is extremely advantageous, as Kentucky avoids Alabama, Auburn and LSU from the West.

Does that bring new contenders into play? The only one realistically is running back Benny Snell from Kentucky. The problem? You can’t bet him anywhere because he’s not listed!

Crazily enough, if you follow my work, you know he was one of the candidates I was considering before the season at 300-1. If you ended up being convinced, maybe you now have a little bit of value, although he is still quite a longshot with so many elite quarterbacks in the field.

So Who Can Realistically Win?

Five players have a reasonable chance to win as of now:

Tua, Grier, Haskins, Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray and Georgia’s Jake Fromm.

I would consider three additional candidates as needing a lot of help, but still with non-zero chances — Penn State’s Trace McSorley, Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor and Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, who just won the starting job.

Maybe Snell falls into the second group, as well. Of all of those candidates, Lawrence is 40-1, and Fromm (who I talked about a lot last week) dropped from 100-1 to 50-1. Those are your two “best” prices, but also two quarterbacks who need to put a lot on tape the rest of the way.

Honestly, though, why fade Tua now when the Alabama schedule continues to be so easy? Where is the stumbling block? If you own Tua futures, how awesome for you.

If you do not, and you like another low-priced candidate, why not just wait until the week before the LSU game, when Tua’s odds will most likely be at their apex and could fall afterward with a loss or poor performance?

Or, if you like Fromm and/or Lawrence, you should probably bet them now. If they want a shot to win, they need to work their way into the conversation really soon.

One other path to consider: just buy Tua right now with the idea of selling before the LSU game. What are the reasonable chances he’s caught or overtaken by someone else when the next four games are vs. Louisiana, at Arkansas, vs. Missouri and at Tennessee?

What will his odds be in four weeks? -300? -400? There could easily be a profit margin created there where you could sell in a month (by playing the field at something like +200 already holding Tua -135).

There are multiple ways to play this market, and the question is, which one sounds most appealing and potentially profitable to you?

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