J.J. McCarthy Heisman Trophy Odds: Is Michigan QB a Strong Candidate?

J.J. McCarthy should not have had a shot at the starting quarterback job for Michigan after the success the team enjoyed with Cade McNamara at the helm last season. But Jim Harbaugh decided to make the two compete, and McCarthy came out on top. Three weeks into the season, he’s near the top of Heisman Trophy betting boards.

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Does that mean Harbaugh made the right decision? Only time will tell. But for now, fans have to decide if there’s value in McCarthy’s Heisman Trophy odds.

J.J. McCarthy Heisman Trophy Odds

McCarthy was nowhere near the Heisman conversation after the second game of the year, but after a solid performance in Week 3, his odds are inside the top 10 of betting boards at Michigan online sportsbooks:

CJ StroudQBOhio State+200+250+200+275
Caleb WilliamsQBUSC+300+300+300+350
Bryce YoungQBAlabama+400+450+500+425
Stetson Bennet IVQBGeorgia+1200+1200+1200+1200
Dillon GabrielQBOklahoma+2000+1600+1600+1600
JJ McCarthyQBMichigan+2000+2500+3000+2200
Bijian RobinsonRBTexas+3000+6600+8000+5000
Will Anderson Jr.LBAlabama+3000+4000+5000+4000
Hendon HookerQBTennessee+4000+4000+5000+4000
Jahmyr GibbsRBAlabama+4000+4000+5000+6000

Heisman voters tend to gravitate towards candidates with a great backstory, which McCarthy has.

In theory, he shouldn’t have even had a shot at the starting QB job this year. McNamara did an excellent job under center for the Wolverines in 2021, guiding the team to a Big Ten title, a win over Ohio State, and into the College Football Playoff. For most coaches, that would be enough for a QB to secure his position. Maybe since the offense struggled in the CFP game, Harbaugh decided a change may be needed.

So, McCarthy had to outperform a guy that led the team to one of its most successful seasons in recent history, which he did. Now he has to outperform the likes of C.J. Stroud, Caleb Williams, Bryce Young, and Stetson Bennett if he’s going to become Michigan’s fourth Heisman Trophy winner.

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No Margin For Error For McCarthy

If playing well was enough, then McCarthy could be in the running for the Heisman at the end of the year, but it’s not. He will need an impressive stat line, but it is unlikely he will have one that eclipses what Stroud, Young, or Gabriel has. He’ll need wins over highly ranked teams on his resume to make up for that.

Two teams on Michigan’s schedule are ranked heading into Week 4 — No. 14 Penn State (Oct. 15) and No. 3 Ohio State (Nov. 26).

That may not seem like enough when you consider Stroud already has a win over No. 5 Notre Dame and also plays Penn State — and that he’s a statistical beast.  Bennett is the QB for the No. 1 team in the nation and already has a win over No. 11 Oregon. Georgia also has three ranked teams still to play.

Bryce Young struggled against Texas but made some big plays in the end. However, he’s got plenty of time to make up for that game with four ranked teams on Alabama’s remaining schedule.

So, does that mean McCarthy doesn’t have a shot? Of course not. But he will need to lead Michigan to an undefeated record, play well in every game, and be the reason the Wolverines beat Ohio State. Former Michigan DE Aidan Hutchinson was nowhere near the Heisman conversation last year, but a big game against the Buckeyes earned him an invite to New York as a finalist.

But don’t bet the house on J.J. McCarthy. With odds ranging from +2000 to +3000, he has a 3.23-4.76% chance of winning.

AP Photo/Paul Sancya

About the Author

Travis Pulver

Travis Pulver is a Senior Writer at Michigan Sharp as well as a lifelong football fan, which he believes comes naturally as he hails from the football-crazy state of Texas. His love of sports, over the years, has grown to include basketball, baseball, rugby, and golf. Currently, life finds him in Indiana with his wife and two kids.