Despite loss, Hooker could still be Heisman’s favorite

Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Hendon Hooker has been the Heisman favorite for some time now.

However, Georgia’s dominating 27-13 victory over Tennessee on Saturday showed that Hooker was not immune to the Bulldogs’ elite defense.

Will Hooker’s struggles between hurdles hamper his Heisman Trophy hopes? While Ohio State’s CJ Stroud might finish with a perfect record, history still turns in favor of the QB Vols.

At the moment, Vegas puts the best odds on Stroud (+150) with Hooker right behind him (+175). However, it could very well be Hooker who takes home the trophy in December.

He still has a lot for him to do in the Heisman race.

Heisman voters love a good story, and Hooker has the best of anyone vying for the trophy this year.

While the Tennessee 7-6 campaign in 2021 led some people to believe the Vols would be definitely improved this season, no one in Knoxville or beyond could have seen Tennessee emerge as one of the most commanding programs in 2022.

Much depends on the combination of Hooker and head coach Josh Heupel, who could still be the favorite to win Coach of the Year honors for his role in leading the Vols’ shocking resurgence. .

Crushing any college football schedule can be a cruel process, especially as daunting as Tennessee’s. The team’s monumental loss to Alabama last month cemented the Vols as the new ‘it team’ in the college football world — with wins over Florida, LSU and Kentucky — but coming up against defense from Georgia seems to have dampened the excitement of the Rocky Top.

An accomplished quarterback like Stroud could lead Hooker in the stats department, but he won’t have the narrative, goodwill, schedule strength and recognition strength that Hooker forged in Neyland this year. .

Plus, the Buckeyes — who are goodbye in Week 10 — still have their own high test against Michigan on Nov. 26 in what might as well be the Big Ten title game. With a trip to the SEC Championship Game likely on the table now, the Vols only have Missouri, South Carolina and Vanderbilt on the schedule.

Tennessee fans might be deflated by the team’s loss to Georgia, but things are still looking up for the Vols. A college football playoff berth is always close at hand if the team takes care of business, and Hooker’s Heisman is always close at hand.

It’s not the lock some would have expected if the Vols had dominated the Bulldogs. Stroud will likely go ahead of Hooker in the 2023 NFL Draft, but Hooker could still take the driver’s seat for college football’s highest individual honor.

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