Klein still holding off Manziel as Heisman front-runner

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Apparently, the oddsmakers’ paid little or no attention to the compelling case for Johnny Manziel made by Ben last weekend.

Just as in its last set of odds, Bovada.com‘s latest Heisman Trophy odds see Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein as the prohibitive favorite for the stiff-armed award at 2/3.  In late October, following a lopsided win over early-season front-runner Geno Smith and West Virginia, Klein’s odds were 4/7.

Klein is followed by Manziel, the Texas A&M quarterback looking to become the first freshman winner in the history of the prestigious award, at 3/1.  Manziel wasn’t even on the Heisman radar last month, gambling-wise.

Based solely on raw statistics, Manziel would be the runaway favorite as the Aggie trumps the Wildcat in passing yards (2780-2020), passing touchdowns (18-12) and rushing yards (1014-748), and is just one behind (19-18) in rushing touchdowns.  However, those totals are heavily skewed in Manziel’s favor as A&M runs nearly 20 more offensive plays per game than K-State; using yards per rush/pass completion, the two are in a virtual dead heat — 9.9 for Manziel vs. 9.3 for Klein.

On the other hand, Klein trumps Manziel in completion percentage (69.7-67.6), touchdown-to-interception ratio (12/3-18/6) and passing efficiency 167.4-151.2).  Add in the fact that K-State is a unanimous No. 2 in the major polls and sits atop the latest BcS rankings, and the precedent that no player in Manziel’s class has ever won a Heisman, it’s easy to see why this particular oddsmaker would lean toward Klein as the favorite.

“Collin Klein remains a clear favorite to win the Heisman, but it was tough to gauge how far behind Johnny Manziel really is after last week’s performance,” Bovada Sports Book manager Kevin Bradley said in the company’s release, referring to Manziel’s play in the upset win over Alabama. “We opened him at 5/2 this week but he did not draw any attention and have moved him to 3/1.

“Even though he may be worthy, I assume the fact that a freshman has never won is stuck in the bettor’s minds and, unless Klein really has a mishap, it is his to lose and is even taking money as odds on favorite at 2/5.”

As for other potential contenders, Bovada lists four other players:

Marqise Lee (WR USC) 8/1
Manti Te’o (LB Notre Dame) 10/1
Kenjon Barner (RB Oregon) 10/1
Braxton Miller (QB Ohio State) 30/1

Nick Saban, on QB controversy: ‘there isn’t one’

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Consider The Nicktator perturbed.  Again.

Jalen Hurts (pictured, right) helped lead Alabama to the national championship game as a true freshman last season and is seemingly the Crimson Tide’s unquestioned starter as we trudge toward summer.  Five-star 2017 signee Tua Tagovailoa (pictured, left), however, had an impressive first spring in Tuscaloosa, capped off with an excellent showing in the annual A-Day game this past weekend.

The true freshman passed for 315 yards and three touchdowns in what amounted to a glorified scrimmage, while the incumbent threw for 301 yards and a pair of scores.  Hurts also tossed the lone interception between the two on the day.

Tagovailoa’s showing throughout the 15 spring practice sessions had led some to wonder whether there could be a quarterback controversy brewing at ‘Bama.  According to Nick Saban, that’s just the media being the media.

“Jalen Hurts played a lot of good football for us last year, and he’s certainly made a lot of progress this spring,” the head coach said by way of al.com. “Even though all of you in the press are trying to make a quarterback controversy out of nothing, which is what you’re doing right now, there isn’t one.”

LOOK: Jim Harbaugh hooks Pope Francis up with Michigan helmet, pair of Jordans

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There’s a series of words I’d never imagined I’d string together in a headline.

As you may have heard, Jim Harbaugh has taken his Michigan football team to Italy for an offseason European vacation.  As part of the trip, the team is in the Vatican City today and took in the Pope’s Wednesday address to the masses in St. Peter’s Square — the players and athletic director Warde Manuel sat amongst the crowd while the head coach and his wife were seated on the same stage as Pope Francis.

Following the address, and after a wait of nearly a half-hour, Harbaugh was able to meet with and speak to His Holiness.  The coach didn’t come empty-handed, either, as Pope Francis was gifted with a Michigan football helmet and a pair of Air Jordans.  Michigan-themed, of course.

“This is as good as it gets,” Harbaugh said according to mlive.com after his meeting with the pope. “This has been the experience of my lifetime.”

Tulane turns to Jonathan Banks as starter at QB

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Last season, there was just one FBS team — Army and its triple-option (967) — that passed for fewer yards than Tulane’s 1,360.  Tulane’s team passing efficiency rating of 93.12 was 128th of the 128 teams at this level of football.  Their completion percentage of 42.2 was, again, 128th in the FBS.  Their 5.3 yards per attempt was… 127th.

This season, the Green Wave’s passing hopes in a run-heavy offense will likely land on the shoulders of a junior college transfer.

Throughout the spring, Jonathan Banks had taken the majority of reps with the first-team offense.  Tuesday, Willie Fritz confirmed that Banks will be his starter under center heading into summer camp and, presumably, for the program’s season opener against Grambling at home Sept. 2.

At least for now, Banks has staked his claim to the job after a competition that included Glen Cuiellette and Jonathan Brantley, the starter and backup, respectively, last season.

“He did a good job this spring picking things up,” the head coach said according to nola.com. “We evaluated practices 1 through 15 and I thought, for a guy coming into a new situation, he did a very good job. He provides us with both a passing and a running threat, which in our offense you need to have.

“We’re excited about his development.”

Drew O’Bryan leaves Western Kentucky, drops down to FCS level

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Another day, another FBS player has transitioned away from his first college football home.

On his personal Twitter account recently, Drew O’Bryan acknowledged his decision to transfer from Western Kentucky. Additionally, he announced his next destination for good measure — Eastern Kentucky.

The linebacker said he made the decision “[a]fter talking with my family and many prayers.”

As EKU plays at the Football Championship Subdivision level, O’Bryan will be eligible to play immediately for the Colonels in 2017.

O’Bryan was a two-star member of WKU’s 2016 recruiting class, rated as the No. 18 player at any position in the state of Kentucky. He took a redshirt as a true freshman.