Wolverines QB McNamara Projected By Sportsbooks As Heisman Longshot

Big Ten rival quarterback Stroud is the favorite, but is Michigan senior McNamara worth a flyer?
cade mcnamara celebrating
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The University of Michigan football team will enter the 2022 season as the defending Big Ten champions.

Cade McNamara was the starting quarterback for all of the Wolverines’ games last season, including the Big Ten championship game against Iowa and the Capital One Orange Bowl/CFP semifinal against Georgia. The Wolverines posted a 12-2 record, only suffering defeats at Michigan State (37-33) and to Georgia (34-11).

McNamara will be back behind center for Michigan this fall, and the 6-foot-1, 212-pound senior’s play will be critical to whether the Wolverines can achieve success similar to what they accomplished last fall.

Furthermore, a fast start to the season by the Wolverines with McNamara at the forefront of their offensive attack could lead to him being among the early frontrunners for the Heisman Trophy. Looking over some of Michigan’s most prominent online sportsbooks, we see FanDuel and DraftKings currently have long odds of +15000 on McNamara winning the award. In comparison, FanDuel and DraftKings have odds of +200 and +250, respectively, on Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, with both books seeing the Buckeyes’ QB as the favorite.

Building on recent success

In his first season as a full-time starter for the Wolverines, McNamara provided the kind of steadiness and leadership that Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh had been looking for. He completed 210 of 327 passes for 2,576 yards, including 15 touchdown passes and six interceptions. He averaged 184 passing yards per game while completing 64% of his attempts. Not much of a threat as a ballcarrier, he was still able to average 5 yards a carry and finished with 174 rushing yards for the year, which ranked third overall on the team.

Michigan’s offense outscored its opponents 501-243 and the team averaged 36 points per game. McNamara guided the Wolverines on a seven-game win streak to open the season and, following a heartbreaking defeat at Michigan State, they went on another long win streak, winning five straight to clinch a spot in the FBS playoffs.

Looking for a repeat showing

The Wolverines’ most impressive win last season came in late November, when they dominated archrival Ohio State at the Big House. McNamara’s calm and collected effort saw him complete 13 of 19 passes for 159 yards in the 42-27 win over the Buckeyes, which clinched the Big Ten East Division title for the Wolverines.

The Wolverines have eight home games this fall. With 2021 Big Ten Player of the Year Aidan Hutchinson no longer on the Wolverines’ defensive line after being taken by the Detroit Lions with the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft, Michigan may have to rely less on a stout defensive unit and more on the McNamara-led offense.

The downside for McNamara Heisman bettors: He could possibly share playing time with sophomore J.J. McCarthy. Nevertheless, McNamara has enjoyed a steady progression in his development since arriving at Michigan in 2019. After not getting any playing time as a freshman, he saw limited action as a sophomore, playing in four games, including one as a starter. He completed 43 of 71 passes for 425 yards, throwing five TDs without an interception.

McNamara’s effort as a sophomore against Rutgers, in which he completed 27 of 36 passes for 260 yards and four TDs, represents the highest single-game completion percentage in Michigan history among QBs with at least 36 pass attempts.

A stretch of passing performances like that this fall could go a long way toward shortening McNamara’s odds to win the next Heisman Trophy.

Photo: June Han/Detroit Free Press/USA TODAY

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