Las Vegas is expecting quite a bit out of Penn State’s offense in 2017.
Nittany Lions quarterback Trace McSorley and running back Saquon Barkley are tied with Washington’s Jake Browning for the fifth-best chance to win next season’s Heisman Trophy, according to initial odds released by Bovada Sportsbook on Monday.
Barkley, McSorley and Browning’s odds stand at 10-to-1.
Only four players have a better chance, according to the sportsbook. Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield is the favorite with 11-to-2 odds, followed by Ohio State signal-caller J.T. Barrett (6-to-1), Louisville’s Lamar Jackson (7-to-1) and Southern California gunslinger Sam Darnold (9-to-1).
That’s a stacked list. Last season, Mayfield threw for 3,956 passing yards and 40 touchdowns, Barrett accounted for 31 touchdowns, Jackson won the Heisman, and Darnold torched everyone in his way, including Penn State with 453 yards and five touchdowns in the Rose Bowl.
McSorley and Barkley aren’t slouches, either. McSorley threw for 3,614 yards and accounted for 36 touchdowns, while Barkley totaled more than 1,500 yards and 22 scores.
Can the duo improve in 2017 and get those numbers closer to Heisman standards? Absolutely. Barkley had nine games in which he rushed for less than 100 yards, and McSorley didn’t hit his stride until the second half of 2016.
A second year under offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead could make Penn State’s offense even more explosive than it was this past season, which is scary for its opponents, no doubt.
Now, these odds don’t guarantee that Penn State’s duo will be at the Heisman ceremony in December; Bovada’s initial 2016 list didn’t even include the eventual winner (Jackson) or two of the finalists (Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers, Oklahoma’s Dede Westbrook).
Still, the hype — and talent — is there for Barkley and McSorley.
The only Nittany Lion to win the Heisman was John Cappelletti in 1973, while Michael Robinson was fifth in the voting in 2005, Larry Johnson came in third in 2002, and Ki-Jana Carter and Kerry Collins were second and fourth, respectively, in 1994.
Could Barkley and McSorley be the next duo to garner Heisman recognition?
Their campaigns begin against Akron on Sept. 2.