College Football
Matt Corral, backed by rising Ole Miss Rebels, a sleeper pick for Heisman
College Football

Matt Corral, backed by rising Ole Miss Rebels, a sleeper pick for Heisman

Published Aug. 15, 2021 10:32 a.m. ET

By Sam Panayotovich
FOX Sports Betting Analyst

The Heisman Trophy betting market is one of my favorites to tackle.

Oddsmakers do their best to line the perceived top players in college football, but it’s a market you can really take advantage of if you circle the right sleeper before everybody else catches on.

Ten of the past 12 Heisman winners were 20/1 or higher in the preseason. That list includes Alabama wideout DeVonta Smith (100/1) last year and LSU quarterback Joe Burrow (200/1) two years ago. Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, Louisville’s Lamar Jackson and Alabama’s Derrick Henry also support the argument that it pays to shop deeper down the board.


FOX Bet is currently dealing Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler (+550) as the betting favorite this season, followed by Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei (+600), Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (+800), Georgia quarterback J.T. Daniels (+900), Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud (+1200) and North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell (+1500).

You’ll have to go a little deeper to find my sleeper: Matt Corral at 25-to-1.

The Ole Miss quarterback burst onto the scene last year as a sophomore and combined to throw and run for 33 touchdowns and almost 4,000 yards of total offense in Lane Kiffin’s aggressive, up-tempo Rebel attack.

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The thing is, Corral was still learning Kiffin’s offense on the fly and figuring out how to handle the playcalling. He definitely needs to be more consistent (14 interceptions in ’20), but reports from Oxford have been pretty positive, and elite quarterbacks tend to take leaps from their sophomore to junior seasons.

I expect Corral to be the type of game-changer who elevates Ole Miss to nine-plus wins. And he’s the type of dual-threat weapon who historically gives Alabama fits. Corral passed for 365 yards and two touchdowns against the Crimson Tide in October. Those types of performances only put more steam in the hype locomotive as it chugs down the tracks.

Veteran college football handicapper Brad Powers told FOX Sports that he has the Rebels favored in eight of their 12 games this season. Powers also has Ole Miss as a 1-point home underdog against LSU and a 2.5-point pup at Auburn, both winnable games. Oddsmakers could obviously make Ole Miss the favorite in those two games if preseason expectations are exceeded.

The Rebels were an explosive offense last season, scoring 392 points in 10 games. Their issue was on the defensive side of the ball, where they allowed 383 points. But back-to-back top-25 recruiting classes will shore up the lack of talent on the defensive side.

I expect Ole Miss to improve on offense and defense, which will seemingly put Corral in several situations to be the hero late in the fourth quarter — or Heisman Time, as I like to call it.

It’s no fun to bet preseason Heisman favorites because the payouts are too low. I prefer to throw a dart on a player such as Corral, who has tremendous upside. And with the way the Rebels get up and down the field, I’m forecasting 5,000 yards of offense and 45 total touchdowns for the Ventura, California, native.

Hotty toddy. 

Sam Panayotovich is a sports betting analyst for FOX Sports and NESN. He previously worked for WGN Radio, NBC Sports and VSiN. He'll probably pick against your favorite team. Follow him on Twitter @spshoot.


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