Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker is Sportsbooks’ New Favorite to Win the Heisman Trophy

  • Hendon Hooker began the year with a small chance of winning the award
  • Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud is the only player in close proximity
  • Hooker’s defining moment came in a 52-49 win over #3 Alabama
  • Tennessee is a large underdog in this weekend’s game against #1 Georgia
Heisman Trophy
Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker is the new surprising favorite to win the Heisman Trophy heading into his team’s showdown with the #1 Georgia Bulldogs. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Climbing the ladder

Several major sportsbooks including as FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, and Caesars have named Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Hendon Hooker as the favorite for the Heisman Trophy heading into Week 9 of the college football season.

vaulted him into the top of the rankings

Hooker began the season with an outside shot at the award, but no real expectations of competing with heavy hitters like C.J. Stroud, reigning champion Bryce Young, and Caleb Williams. Weekly standout performances, though, and a crowning moment in a 52-49 win over Alabama have vaulted him into the top of the rankings.

Hooker and the #2 Volunteers face #1 Georgia this weekend in a bout sure to settle the regular season SEC East championship and, potentially, determine whether or not he wins the sport’s most coveted individual award.

Heisman chances for Hendon Hooker

Hooker has had a meteoric rise in his two years at Tennessee after transferring from Virginia Tech. His season stats read 2,338 passing yards, 21 touchdowns and just one interception, along with 338 rushing yards and four TDs on the ground.

No player in Tennessee’s storied history as a program has won the Heisman, not even all-timers like Peyton Manning and Reggie White. 

All of the sportsbooks mentioned above have the Tennessee QB as either a -110 or +100 favorite to win the award, with Ohio State QB Stroud being the only one in close contact. Michigan running back Blake Corum, USC QB Caleb Williams and Oregon QB Bo Nix round out the top five, though all three are at least +1,500 in odds.

the best game of his blossoming career came in the showdown with then-third-ranked Alabama

Hooker has all of the makings of a Heisman winner, including stats, team record, and shining moments. The best game of his blossoming career came in the showdown with then-third-ranked Alabama, where he threw for 385 yards, five touchdowns and a pick and ran for 56 yards. He also threw a game-tying touchdown with 3:26 on the clock and then led a game-winning drive, capped off with a field goal as time expired.

Hooker now seems to be just one win away from locking up the award. It will be his toughest challenge yet, but he and the rest of Tennessee’s crew look like they are up for it.

An important weekend

Any pro-Tennessee bettors should head to the sportsbook as soon as possible. The Volunteers are 8.5-point underdogs on FanDuel and +260 on the moneyline and would give a great payout if they complete their upset bid.

the largest discrepancy in a No. 1-vs.-No. 2 matchup since 2013

The line has already shifted down after opening at nine points, which tied the largest discrepancy in a No. 1-vs.-No. 2 matchup since 2013 when top-ranked Florida State was also favored by nine over challenger Auburn.

The Bulldogs are allowing the third-fewest points per game (12) among all Division-I football teams and have not allowed anyone to score more than 22 points this season. Tennessee, on the other hand, is first in the country in points per game (49.4) and yards per game (553.0) on offense. Georgia ranks sixth and second in those categories.

UGA won last year’s matchup 41-17 thanks to a stifling defensive performance. Hooker was limited to 244 yards, a touchdown and an interception on 24-37 passing.