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OU football: Why Spencer Rattler is the 2021 Heisman Trophy favorite

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Big 12 Championship Football

Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler (7) throws against Iowa State during the first half of the Big 12 championship game Saturday in Arlington, Texas.

Alabama receiver DeVonta Smith is the betting favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, which will reveal its winner at 7 tonight on ESPN.

As for next season?

It's Oklahoma's Spencer Rattler's award to lose, according to BetOnline.

BetOnline.ag released its early 2021 Heisman Trophy odds, and Rattler is the sportsbook's frontrunner at 5/1 odds.

Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei and North Carolina’s Sam Howell have the second-best odds at 7/1. Alabama’s Bryce Young, Miami’s D’Eriq King, Georgia’s JT Daniels and Southern Cal’s Kedon Slovis share the fourth-best odds at 12/1.

So, why does Rattler have the way-too-early favorite?

The rising sophomore finished his debut season as the Sooners' starter with 3,031 yards passing, 28 passing touchdowns and completed 67.5% of his passing attempts. In a full 14-game season, Rattler was on pace to throw for 3,857 yards and 35 touchdowns.

Despite a bumpy start to his rookie year, the former five-star recruit led the Sooners to their sixth consecutive Big 12 championship, beating Iowa State 27-21, and a Cotton Bowl Classic victory over Florida.

Had it not been for those two early-season setbacks against Kansas State and Iowa State, Rattler might have followed in Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts' massive footsteps and been a Heisman Trophy finalist this season.

Each time OU has made the College Football Playoff, the team's starting quarterback has also finished in the top five of the Heisman Trophy voting. And the Sooners would have been hard to keep out of the playoff if they didn't trip up against the Wildcats and Cyclones.

They should be just as difficult to keep out next season with most of OU's core coming back.

Rattler's second year will include a season-opening road trip to Tulane, longtime OU rival Nebraska returning to Norman for the first time since 2008, defending Big 12 runner-up Iowa State visiting OU and a trip to Kansas State.

A spotlight will shine even brighter on OU's annual date in Dallas with Texas, which will be breaking in first-year coach Steve Sarkisian. And the Sooners will face Oklahoma State in Stillwater, which has hosted ESPN's "College GameDay" two of the last three times Bedlam has been played at Boone Pickens Stadium.

Rattler, shouldering the momentum of OU's Cotton Bowl Classic triumph, was a Heisman Trophy contender before even starting for the Sooners. He had 9/1 odds — second only to Clemson's Trevor Lawrence — to win the award late last August.

His quasi-campaign got off the rails before it truly get on track with the Sooners' 1-2 start to the 2020 season. A hotter start to 2021, following an offseason of the Sooners' celebrating an eight-game winning streak to end their 2020 schedule, should go a long way.

Rattler continuing to evolve into the five-star prospect he was projected as coming out of Pinnacle High School should go even longer.

Joe Buettner

405-366-3580

Follow me @JoeBuettner

jbuettner@normantranscript.com

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