College football season isn’t even two weeks in the books since being completed, but Oklahoma fans already have something to get excited about for 2017.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield has been named as the early favorite to win the 2017 Heisman Trophy Award, according to the odds released by Bovada on Monday morning.
Mayfield, fresh off finishing third in last year’s race, is given 11-2 odds of dethroning Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson. At 7-1 odds, Jackson is actually third, behind Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett with USC quarterback Sam Darnold fourth.
Mayfield can do a lot to state his case Sept. 9 in OU’s second game of the season when the Sooners travel to Columbus to take on Barrett and the Buckeyes. Ohio State beat OU 45-24 last year in Norman that was the catalyst to OU’s 10-game winning streak that culminated in a Sugar Bowl win vs. Auburn.
Known as a dual-threat quarterback following his breakout season in 2015, Mayfield was able to show just how much he improved as a pocket-passer in 2016.
Mayfield completed just under 71 percent of his passes, going 254 of 358 last season for 3,965 yards and 40 touchdowns against just eight interceptions. He had the best passing efficiency season of any quarterback in FBS history.
The running aspect of his game wasn’t gone. He simply became more selective in when he would take off and run. He finished the season with 177 rushing yards and six touchdowns.
Although key parts to OU’s success in Samaje Perine, Joe Mixon and Dede Westbrook are heading to the NFL, one key reason for anyone expecting Mayfield to make a push is the offensive line.
All five starters and OU’s top eight offensive linemen will be returning for the Sooners in the 2017 season.