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CBS Sports: Michigan QB a dark horse for Heisman

A Wolverine hasn’t won the Heisman since 1997.

NCAA Football: Middle Tennessee at Michigan Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

It has been 23 years since a Michigan player has won the Heisman Trophy, and while that is highly unlikely to change this season, Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports compiled his list of dark-horse candidates for the honor for the 2020 season. Someone who makes that list is “Michigan quarterback”, well, essentially.

Fornelli said that bettors should take a look at Dylan McCaffrey who is in a good position to make some people a lot of money if he were to win the Heisman Trophy. At +7500 odds, it would really make someone’s day if he did so. However, Fornelli was tentative on locking it in on McCaffrey saying, “I’m approaching this from the standpoint of the darkhorse being “Michigan QB,” whether that’s McCaffrey or Milton.”

For now, hold onto your wallets, but once Michigan announces their starter, Fornelli thinks it could pay big dividends. He even went as far as drawing comparisons from Michigan’s offense to that of the defending national champions, “Like LSU, Michigan broke in a new offense last season. One meant to spread things out and modernize an attack that had grown a bit obsolete. Unlike LSU, Michigan’s offense didn’t hit the ground running, mostly because it didn’t have a Joe Burrow leading the way. Odds are neither McCaffrey or Milton are Burrow, either but heading into the second season of a new offense — one that improved in the second half of last season — I expect Michigan to be better on that side of the ball.”

In order for a Michigan quarterback to accomplish this feat, several things would have to happen. First, Josh Gattis’ play calling has to get better and the team would need to hit on more home-run plays. Pro Football Focus actually has a statistic to calculate offense’s explosiveness called Offensive Explosive Drive rate (OED) which is the percentage of offensive drives that average at least ten yards per play. Gattis and the Michigan offense came in at No. 36 with .136 which is up from No. 89 in 2018. With that being said, a lot can change in one season as Burrow lifted LSU from No. 73 in OED rating in 2018 to the top-ranked team this season. A great quarterback taking over behind center at Michigan could make some significant changes to the offense.

The true making of a Heisman comes in winning the biggest games on the schedule. Let’s be honest, at this point, one of the top-4 teams with the best quarterback is likely to take home the prestigious award. Michigan has yet to sniff the College Football Playoff as they have lost to Ohio State ever since its inauguration in 2014 (and even beyond that to 2012). Whatever quarterback takes over has a huge task ahead of him and even if he has a successful season, I severely doubt a Heisman candidacy is being prepped for him for 2020.

Michigan has ‘the best of both worlds’ according to Rivals listed their top schools that have ‘the best of both worlds’ in their football and basketball programs. Finishing at No. 4 in the country was the Michigan Wolverines who boast a 72 percent winning percentage among the two collegiate programs over the last four years.

Michigan is a basketball school? It’s close – and we’re only half-joking there – but the hoops team has won 2 percent more games over the last four years than the football team that’s so loved in Ann Arbor. Over the last four seasons, Michigan’s football team has won 10 games twice but also had an 8-5 stumble. The basketball squad has developed into a national power with two seasons of 30 or more wins and a run to the national championship game.

Tied for first place in the rankings are Clemson and Ohio State with a combined 76 winning percentage between their basketball and football teams. Coming in at third with a winning percentage of 72.5 is Alabama. All three are carried by their football programs who have won 93 percent, 89 percent, and 91 percent of their game, respectively.

National Brews:

  • The NHL has proposed a 24-team playoff format in their return to action, but the home-state Detroit Red Wings will be far from included with the worst record in hockey. The Eastern and Western Conferences will play in two ‘hub cities’ that will host the games; held in either Canada or the United States. No date, time, nor location has been set, but the league hopes to hold training camps at the start of July.
  • Major League Baseball sent their return to play proposal to the players’ association that included cutting pay from the highest-paid players and allocating those funds to players who made less money. Jeff Passan laid out how the salary cuts would play out: