Washington vs. Oregon Picks: Why to Bet Bo Nix to Win Heisman Instead of Pac-12 Championship
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images. Pictured: Oregon quarterback Bo Nix.
The stakes could not be higher for the Oregon Ducks, who will be fighting for their College Football Playoff lives on Friday night when they take on the Washington Huskies in the Pac-12 Championship.
The Ducks lost a tough game at Washington earlier this season, 36-33, so the magnitude of this game is huge. The stakes are already high enough, but they may be higher for both of these starting quarterbacks.
Oregon quarterback Bo Nix is the current favorite to win the Heisman Trophy next weekend, while Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. — the former favorite — sits a 16-1 underdog at most books.
Considering Oregon is a -9.5 point favorite in this game, there are a couple of ways you could approach the contest to come out profitable. Let's take a deeper dive into this angle to see what the best approach is.
Who Wins and Why?
Off the bat, I'm going to briefly explain why I think either team is going to win the game or cover the spread. But please be sure to check out Collin Wilson's Pac-12 Championship betting preview later this week, as he goes into much greater detail and provides terrific analysis.
Simply put, I think Oregon is going to win this game outright. I've thought for weeks that Oregon is playing the best football out of every current College Football Playoff contender, and it deserves to be ranked inside the top four.
The Ducks are better than the Huskies on both sides of the ball. Considering the struggles Penix and the Huskies have had since the last time these two met, I don't see a world where they pull off the upset.
There are massive advantages for the Ducks on the defensive side of the ball that should hold Penix and Co. at bay for the majority of this game.
I also admire the Ducks' ability to lean on their running game at times, which will keep the ball out of Penix's hands.
It's crazy to think that the Ducks were a 3-point underdog at Washington in October, but now they're suddenly massive favorites in this game. I think the market is telling us that the Ducks will come out victorious.
This number opened higher than the hypothetical lookahead line of Oregon -7, and I wouldn't be surprised if this number continues to steam higher. But as high as I am on the Ducks, I'm not sprinting to the window to lay this large of a number against this Washington team.
I realize the Huskies have faded of late and they honestly could have lost a couple of games down the stretch. But if this number continues to climb, I may have to take a look at backing them in this game.
The reason I say this is because even if the game is out of reach and the Huskies are down two scores late, this offense has the capability of scoring in a flash and could easily sneak into the backdoor.
I also think if you like the Huskies in this game, it may be wise to wait to bet them live. If Oregon starts with the ball and scores a touchdown on the opening possession, there's a great chance you can get Washington live at +14 or better.
Unless both of these quarterbacks vomit all over themselves, both of these teams will have opportunities to put points on the scoreboard.
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Why a Nix Heisman Wager Could Be Better
On Sunday, I looked at the Heisman odds and thought that Nix winning the Heisman could be a much better alternative to betting Oregon in this game.
If the Ducks win and Nix puts up mediocre or better numbers, there's a very good chance he'll win the award.
There have been arguments for weeks that LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels could win the award due to the phenomenal statistical season he's put together, despite the fact that the Tigers have lost three games.
Although I think Daniels has been the best quarterback in the sport this season, the Heisman committee more likely than not will vote for Nix over Daniels due to his team's accomplishments alongside his stats.
Take a look below at the fascinating statistical comparison from Matt Prehm of 247Sports:
Here is a detailed breakdown of Bo Nix of Oregon against Jayden Daniel's of LSU. Daniel's toughest opponents are against better teams than what Nix has faced, but Nix's numbers in ranked vs unranked far exceed what Daniel's has done. pic.twitter.com/Xr3BHilB8s
— Matt Prehm (@MattPrehm) November 28, 2023
As you can see, Daniels has been impressive, but Nix's stats against a way tougher strength of schedule speak volumes. This would be a totally different conversation if Nix were putting up poor or subpar numbers against superior competition.
Many will say Daniels is a victim of stat-padding, but I don't really buy that argument. Daniels isn't in charge of who his team faces, so if he performs well against bad competition, that shouldn't be held against him.
However, it's tough to make a case for Daniels as opposed to Nix, especially if Nix puts up yet another monster game against an undefeated team. This is Nix's award to lose, and the only way I see Daniels winning this award is if the Ducks lose on Friday night.
I think there's a good investment opportunity on Nix to win the award as opposed to wagering on the Ducks. You can find Nix at -140 to win the Heisman at bet365, and that's the route I'm going to take.
I really don't see a world where the Ducks lose this game, and the -350 moneyline is way steeper than Nix's -160 Heisman line. Many people probably don't want to lay that type of juice, and rightfully so.
An alternative way to cover yourself is to place a full unit or more on Nix to win the Heisman, and then you can come back to place a smaller wager on Washington ML or take the points at some point during the game.
If you find yourself in that situation, there's also the real golden possibility of a middle opportunity.
Scenario: Let's say you lay the -140 on Nix to win the Heisman and the Ducks are cruising early in the first quarter. You could then bet Washington +14 or better, which could easily be a live number to cover throughout this entire game.
So, Oregon winning the game outright and Washington covering the number would result in a double-win situation. There's always the nightmare scenario that Nix plays horribly, but I don't think the Ducks win the game if that's the case.
If you really like the Ducks this weekend, you should heavily consider this alternative.