Mason Rudolph (QB – Oklahoma St): ML +2000
Why we think Rudolph will win the Heisman:
At 6’5″ 235 lbs it’s only a matter of time before OSU alum Bryant Reeves passes down one of the greatest nicknames in all of sports, ‘Big Country’ to one of the largest QB’s in the country. Size is not the reason Rudolph is a strong Heisman candidate. ‘Big Country 2’ is arguably the best senior NFL quarterback prospect in college football this year. A potential top draft pick if you will. That national media attention alone will keep the campus abuzz for Stillwater’s 2nd larger than life sport’s superstar and open the door for plenty of ‘Rudolph For Heisman’ discussion.
It also helps that ‘BC2’ is one of the more efficient QB’s in the country, throwing 28 TD’s to just four INT’s in 2016. It certainly doesn’t hurt to have a preseason All-American (according to Athlon Sports) wide receiver named James Washington to throw to either. Both guys are on the Maxwell Award watch list.
The schedule for the Cowboys of Stillwater is challenging, but like the BIG 12 is every year, there’s ample opportunity to put up ridiculous numbers in high-scoring shootouts. This sort of conference only benefits the quarterback position. Rudolph should only improve on previous seasons statistically, especially with having his two best weapons back in Washington and WR Jalen McCleskey. Both guys combined for 144 receptions, 2,192 yards and 17 TD’s in 2016.
*Big Games on Tap:
9/16 @ #24 Pitt
9/23 v TCU
9/30 @ Texas Tech
10/14 v Baylor
10/21 @ #21 Texas
10/28 @ #20 W. Virginia
11/4 v #7 OU
11/18 v #17 Kansas St.
Schedule Overview: Five games against top-25 opponents. The other three are against teams that can easily get you into a shootout and those are generally difficult to predict an obvious winner no matter the favorite. Vegas has OSU at 9 wins this year. With that schedule nine wins would be impressive. However, ten to eleven wins and a conference championship does wonders to a Heisman resume.
*Rankings according to Sporting News. Subject to change.
Why we’re hesitant about ‘Rudolph for Heisman’:
Oklahoma State doesn’t necessarily need to beat OU on 11/4 (although it would obviously help) for ‘BC2’ to win the Heisman, he does need to outplay the now three-time Heisman candidate, Baker Mayfield, in the process. That’s exactly what happened with Lamar Jackson last year after losing at Clemson to eventual Heisman runner-up, Deshaun Watson. Jackson lost the battle but won the (Heisman) war. Rudolph and the Cowboys beat the Sooners back in 2014 and will definitely have that game circled, highlighted, underlined on the calendar.
Statistically, Rudolph is set for another 4,000 yard passing season. That’s even more impressive considering he only threw an interception one out of every 112 passes. Where Heisman voters need to see improvement is in the touchdown department. Unfortunately for ‘BC2,’ he’s not going to provide anywhere near the dual-threat kind of stats that guys like Lamar Jackson or USF’s Quinton Flowers are going to post. So for 2017, the Cowboys will need to find a way to score more TD’s of the air variety (29 in 2016) as opposed to on the ground (32 in 2016). Rudolph’s 2016 total of 28 passing TD’s won’t win him a Heisman. Of the last 23 Heisman winners, only Johnny Manziel threw for less than 28 TD’s (26) yet Manziel ran for 21 TD’s and 1,400 yards, neither of which Rudolph is going to do.
Would I bet on Rudolph to win the 2017 Heisman Trophy:
If all I had was $100 to bet on Heisman favorites with, I’d place $20 on Rudolph. That wouldn’t be a devastating loss but a nice reward if he does. I think Rudolph’s name will be mentioned as a dark horse candidate all year so long as the Cowboys keep winning.