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Stroud Tops Heisman Trophy Hopefuls

Source: BetUs

There were no thoughts about winning the Heisman Trophy when Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young and Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud stepped onto the football field about 600 miles apart for their final home games of rather remarkable seasons.

Alabama and Ohio State were both playing nationally ranked opponents in games that their teams needed to win to stay in position to compete for a national championship.

After tossing 11 touchdown passes and no interceptions between them, it seems fair to proclaim the Heisman Trophy race as a showdown between a pair of gunslingers from California according to the college football odds.

Here is the latest breakdown of how the Heisman Trophy race is shaking out.

Front-runners Get Passing Grades

C.J. Stroud, Ohio State Quarterback

Heisman Odds: -250

When Stroud threw for only 185 yards against Tulsa and had an interception for the third straight game, his Heisman candidacy didn’t look promising. Then he missed a late September game against Akron and it appeared as if Stroud’s time as a legitimate Heisman candidate would have to wait.

However, the passing yards and touchdowns began piling up. Stroud would not throw an interception in six of the next seven games. Facing a Michigan State team that had already defeated Michigan was going to be a huge test. Stroud attempted 35 passes and completed 32. He had his fourth 400-yard passing game of the season as Ohio State rolled to a 56-7 win over the Spartans on Saturday. He is the only FBS quarterback to complete more than 70 percent of his passes, average at least 10 yards per passing attempt and throw more than 30 touchdown passes.

He moved to the top of the list of Heisman contenders on the latest odds.

Bryce Young, Alabama Quarterback

Heisman Odds: +155

Young shattered one of the Crimson Tide’s longest-standing individual records when he lit up the Arkansas defense for 559 passing yards in a 42-37 win. The Alabama single-game record of 484 yards was set by Scott Hunter against Auburn in 1969. He also broke the single-game total offense mark, even though he was credited with minus-11 rushing yards. Young can join Mac Jones and Tua Tagovailoa as the only Alabama players with more than 4,000 yards of total offense in a season.

The most important part of the win over Arkansas was that it clinched a spot in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game against No. 1 Georgia on Dec. 4. First, however, Young and the Crimson Tide will attempt to win at Auburn for the first time since 2015. Alabama is listed as a 19½-point favorite according to the college football spreads.

Running Out of Time

Kenneth Walker, Michigan State Running Back

Heisman Odds: +2500

With the way Ohio State was playing on Saturday, it would have been hard for any running back in the country to get much done. It was certainly a tough day for Walker, who finished with season lows of six rushing attempts and 25 rushing yards. Central Michigan’s Lew Nichols moved ahead of Walker in the national rushing race. It won’t get much easier for Walker when Penn State comes to East Lansing.

In four games against ranked opponents this season, the Nittany Lions have allowed less than 1500 rushing yards per game and only 3.3 yards per carry.

Declaring Walker’s Heisman hopes over is a bit premature, but he’s going to have to do something pretty special to make up the ground on Stroud and Young after the scores and odds had his chances to win the Heisman take a significant dip this week.

Matt Corral, Ole Miss Quarterback

Heisman Odds: +2300

Corral is back into the top three in the Heisman odds lists by the sportsbook, although he is well behind the two quarterbacks ahead of him.

Corral is part of an offense that leads the SEC in rushing so he doesn’t get to the air as often as some other top quarterbacks, but he has still thrown for 3,100 yards with 19 touchdown passes and only three interceptions.

Corral ran for more than 50 yards in three of the Rebels’ first six games. He has been hobbled a bit in the second half of the season and isn’t tucking the ball away and running.

Probably Deserve Better

Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Quarterback

Heisman Odds: +4500

All Pickett has done has broken some of Dan Marino’s passing records at Pittsburgh while leading the Panthers to their first Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.

Pickett has thrown five of his six interceptions in the last four games and his best passing yardage came in a loss to Miami but still, Pickett is on the verge of surpassing 4000 passing yards. He has 36 touchdowns and just six interceptions and has also thrown for four touchdowns.

Jordan Davis, Georgia DL, Will Anderson, Alabama LB

Davis’ Heisman Odds: +7000

Anderson’s Heisman Odds: +8500

Davis and Anderson couldn’t be much more different in how they are utilized.

Davis is an absolute wrecking ball up front. Teams can’t move him and although he doesn’t put up gaudy individual statistics, there is no way the Bulldogs’ defense would be terrifying as it is without the 340-pound Davis occupying multiple blockers on almost every play.

The 245-pound Anderson is tied for the national lead with 13.5 sacks and leads the country with 26.5 tackles for loss. Anderson has at least two tackles for loss in each of his last five games. He has a chance to become the first FBS player with at least 30 tackles for loss since 2011.

Davis and Anderson are two of the three finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy presented annually to the nation’s top defensive player.

Georgia and Alabama, who will meet in the Southeastern Conference title game, are high-profile programs playing quality opponents so why aren’t Davis and Anderson getting more buzz? The simple answer is they play on the wrong side of the ball. They should certainly be in any Heisman conversation, but the reality is that is not the case and defensive players get overlooked and under-voted every year.

Wait Until Next Year

Caleb Williams, Oklahoma Quarterback

Heisman Odds: +10000

There were a few weeks where the true freshman, who didn’t start the season as Oklahoma’s starting quarterback, was soaring up the list of Heisman Trophy candidates according to the sportsbook.

That all changed when Williams threw two interceptions and was pulled in a loss to Baylor. He came back and led Oklahoma to a win over Iowa State as the Sooners remained in contention for the Big 12 title. Williams wasn’t asked to win the game with his arm as he completed 8 of 18 passes for 87 yards in the 28-21 win.

Williams added 67 rushing yards. He ran for one score and threw for another to set it up for the Big 12 regular-season title going to the winner of this week’s Oklahoma/Oklahoma State game.

Williams should be in contention for the Heisman Trophy again but it is not going to happen this year.

Matchup of the Week

Ohio State at Michigan

Stroud moved to the top of the list of Heisman contenders after the Buckeyes crushed a very good Michigan State team. Now comes an even bigger test as he gets to play at the “Big House” for the first time.

Stroud will face a Michigan Wolverines’ defense that is second in the Big Ten in passing defense, allowing 178.4 yards per game. Michigan has allowed just 11 touchdown passes and only eight in conference play.

Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo are tied for the Big Ten lead with 10 sacks.

Other than helping or hurting his Heisman Trophy odds, Stroud can put the Buckeyes into the Big Ten Championship Game with a win.

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Education

University students hold the keys to ‘level up’ the esports industry

Written by Tao Martinez, Head of University Esports Development at GGTech

For many students, getting in from a class or lecture means jumping onto CS:GO or League of Legends with their friends to pass the time and have a laugh for a few hours.

Climbing the ranks may spark conversation about “going professional” one day but forging a career in esports has never been more accessible for students, with the industry growing by the day.

The total revenue of the esports industry in 2021 was estimated by Newzoo to be $833.6 million, and this is enhanced by a rising number of jobs, university courses and opportunities, making it one of the fastest growing and desirable sectors to lead a career in.

The opportunities

The most obvious route into esports is through being the best at a given game, with teams willing to sign players up on a contract to represent them at tournaments and online leagues. And whilst this is desirable, there are actually a whole host of other careers within the industry.

With Covid fears beginning to fade, in-person gaming events are returning with competitions such as the Amazon UNIVERSITY Esports Masters, hosted by GGTech in collaboration with NUEL, bringing together the best university talent across Europe to face off.

Beyond the players, these events require event organisers, planners and managers, advertising, sponsorship, social media promotion, casting, filming, tech support, and that’s before even getting to the participants which involves players, coaches, and team organisations.

There are so many aspects to a successful esports competition which in turn creates a wealth of jobs and opportunities – which are growing all the time. And these opportunities are also available through online esports leagues as well.

We are in an era where traditional television is being taken over by Netflix, YouTube and Twitch, creating new mediums for viewers to engage with esports, which is reflected by a growing viewer base.

Research from VentureBeat estimated that in 2021 there were 234 million esports enthusiasts, up from 197 and 200.8 million respectively in 2019, highlighting a stark growth. What’s more is that by 2024 there are expected to be 285.8 million enthusiasts and 291.6 million occasional viewers. Esports is a rapidly growing industry that people want to be involved with, and it’ll only get bigger in the coming years.

This is supported by an increase in job awareness through sites like Hitmarker, a dedicated jobs site for advertising esports opportunities.

University courses

The esports ecosystem supports universities through the development of teaching, facilities and opportunities in the industry which helps to focus on student’s interests whilst developing their core skills in preparation for a career in the industry.

For example, Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies, as part of Nottingham Trent University, offer a BSc in Esports Production which teaches students about the global esports industry, the principles of esports, production and technology, as well as broadcasting and management. This will be delivered in Confetti X, a £5 million dedicated esports complex due to open ahead of the upcoming academic year.

Universities such as Sheffield Hallam offer courses in esports management, whilst Chichester has its own esports degree. This is supplemented by universities such as Warwick who have large student esports communities who come together for competitions and tournaments.

The importance of good training in developing the esports industry is being increasingly recognised by universities who are creating new courses each year as a result. Courses involving business, management, events, marketing, journalism and design all offer unique skills which match up with a plethora of new jobs emerging in the esports scene, and with the industry growing at the rate it is, the number of these jobs will only rise.

Moving forwards, the onus is not only on the esports industry supplying opportunities for university students, but also on the university ecosystem to provide the highest-quality education and training in order to fuel the integration of new talent into the dynamic esports workforce.

In order to assist students who are pursuing a career in esports, GGTech works with university students to run and produce the Amazon UNIVERSITY Esports Masters competitions, giving them vital first-hand experience at casting, broadcasting and event management.

Part of the fabric for the future development and growth of the esports industry is putting faith in the talent of university students, being willing to innovate courses, equipment and opportunities, and supporting students every step of the way to help turn their hobby into their future employment.

That’s why university campuses are the best testing space for evolving equipment, products and services whilst allowing students to gain valuable experience, especially through internships and competition management.

Opening people’s eyes to the vast array of opportunities and careers that the esports sector has to offer will fuel the next generation to become the core of the industry during its rapid growth.

Now is the time for a career in esports

In the esports industry revenues are growing, viewership is growing, the number of participants is growing, and this is creating more and more opportunities all the time.

There is no better time to pursue a career in esports, and education is at the forefront of attracting prospective students into the industry. As the sector grows, we will see an increasing number of universities offering esports related courses and follow in the footsteps of Confetti in building dedicated facilities for students to gain the best first-hand experience for running tournaments.

Students should be encouraged to take the plunge, and universities and esports professionals must provide the best assistance possible to welcome in the new generation to help the entire esports industry grow.

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Sports

Junior Hockey World Cup: Marquee QF clash might come down to who handles pressure better

Source: ESPN

Ahead of the two sides’ clash on Wednesday, there’s been some talk that India’s quarterfinal match against Belgium in the 2021 Junior Hockey World Cup will be a reprise of an earlier match – the final of the 2016 edition. Although India won that contest, just that result can’t be extrapolated to this latest encounter.

Being an age group tournament, it is obvious that neither team would still feature the same players from five years ago. Indeed, the only common figure from both those games will be Belgium’s coach Jeroen Baart. Individuals from both teams in that contest would graduate to the senior squad and ended up meeting in the semifinals of the Olympics, where the Belgians emerged victorious.

Stylistic matchup

But even though this latest batch of players haven’t ever had a chance to play each other, they will know what they are up against. Wednesday’s match is a clash not just between two teams but of two philosophies of hockey – a classic stylistic matchup. “You see the DNA (playing style) comes down from the senior team, and the senior team is world no 1,” India’s coach Graham Reid said about Belgium. Reid doesn’t mean to say that Belgium’s style has been thrust down from what the seniors. Over the last decade, beginning from the juniors, Belgium has created a playing style that’s worked miracles for them – winning them the Olympic title this year. What this is is a solid defensive structure where Belgium controls the pace of the match. “We focus on control to create opportunities. For us that means maintaining structure and intensity,” says Jeroen Baart.

India have a philosophy too – one that’s also been a decade in the making and which resulted in a drought-ending Olympic bronze. Baart knows of this as well. “India play is about counterattacking with speed and vertical play. “Our style of play is very complimentary to India. India like to counter-attack using their speed and vertical play. They do it really well. We are focused on our defensive end and on controlling the ball to create opportunities,” says Baart.

Signs of vulnerabilities

Both teams will go into Wednesday’s clash knowing not just each others’ playing styles but also based on their performances so far at the World Cup what they aren’t happy facing with. In their first match of the tournament India fell to a shock 5-4 loss to France – a side that’s looking to cast itself in the Belgian model. The French controlled possession for much of the game and the Indians, except for a brief flurry in the final few minutes of the match, were unable to get into the shooting circle. That last bit of relentless pressure will trouble Belgium though. “We will have to survive those waves from India,” Baart says.

Belgium too have shown vulnerabilities in Bhubaneswar. In their second game against Malaysia – they were held to a surprise draw against a side that tightly defended, giving no opening of its own. India chief coach Graham Reid alluded to that as well. “”We also saw some vulnerability the Malaysians were able to capitalise on and hopefully we can do that,” said Reid. That though will be easier said than done since it would require going against the free flowing hockey the Indian team prizes.

Can they play their A-game?

While both sides have displayed vulnerabilities, they equally have the potential to nullify each other’s strengths as well. Both sides will find that their release tactics might not have the same kind of success as they might have had against other teams.

The Belgians for one might find the high ball — a tactic very successfully employed by their Olympic champion senior side as well –has no guarantee. Although the French side did manage to use the high ball successfully, that match was marked by unusually poor trapping and interception from the low-on-match-practice Indians, who would back themselves not to have two bad days in a week’s time.

India, on the other hand, will find that the kind of defenses that allowed their counterattacking play to end up scoring 25 goals in the league phase might not have the same kind of opportunities against a side that prides itself on its defensive structure. The fact that India have lost striker Maninder Singh due to injury might place addition pressure on the remaining first choice forward line. Coach Reid admits that impatience might be a factor should the young Indian side not get the kind of gifts they would have been used to over the last few days. “That’s (impatience) one of the tough parts when coaching someone younger since it doesn’t come naturally in younger boys. Kids at that age want things to happen right now. You have to try to teach them patience and move the ball around. When you see Belgium play, you will see that patience because it’s been ingrained in them growing up,” he admits.

Handling pressure

In a high-stakes encounter against two sides who started as pre-tournament favourites, what both coaches admit will be critical is just who handles the pressure better. Should the hosts go 2-0 down as they did in their opening game against France, then it’s likely that scoreboard pressure could cause them to play poorer than they might otherwise have.”There might have been some nerves ahead of the first match of the tournament. Hopefully that would have been washed away by now. What I’m focused on is that we are tight in defence all through the game. But our priority would be to get off to a good start,” says Reid.

Baart will be hoping to deny India of just that. “It’s going to be a fantastic match-up. We expect a lot of attacking and aggression from the Indian team. We need to have the right structure and the right intensity at the right moment to deal with it.”

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Sports

Utah State Stands Out in Group of Five

Source: BetUs

Utah State was projected to win three games this season. The Aggies had other ideas. They are 9-3 and playing for the Mountain West Conference championship on Saturday. San Diego State is the opponent. The Aztecs also proved the experts wrong in the college football odds.

The Overachievers

Utah State Aggies

Utah State is +5000 to win the MWC title and the Mountain Division champion is a 5½-point underdog to San Diego State in the college football spreads. The Aggies opened the season with three straight wins to reach their projected total. After losing two in a row, they rewarded over bettors in their sixth game, but that came at a -145 price.

Northern Illinois Huskies

Northern Illinois wasn’t thought of too highly at 3½ wins in the Las Vegas odds. The Huskies started 1-2 but rattled off five straight triumphs, giving over players the victory along the way. Northern Illinois has won eight games and is +5000 to win the Mid-American Conference title on Saturday as a three-point dog against Kent State

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

Western Kentucky is +700 to claim the Conference USA title as a 1½-point favorite versus UTSA on Friday. The Hilltoppers figured to be in the middle of the pack with an over-under of 5½ wins. Under players were getting what they wanted when Western Kentucky began 1-4. But seven straight victories later, over players have long since counted their money.

San Diego State Aztecs

San Diego State, the MWC West Division champion, won 11 games after its over-under was set at 6½ for betting online. The Aztecs needed only seven contests to sail over the number. San Diego State is also a big price to wear the conference crown at +1400.

UTSA Roadrunners

Texas-San Antonio won a school-record 11 games to start the season, smashing its projected win total of eight. The Roadrunners were the third choice to win the C-USA title at +330, but find themselves a slight underdog against Western Kentucky.

BYU Cougars

BYU’s 12-game independent schedule featured six against Power Five conference programs. The Cougars were 5-1 in those contests. BYU also went 5-1 against the rest to easily surpass the 6½ win total to which it was assigned.

East Carolina Pirates

East Carolina was given a 4½ win total. The Pirates dropped their first two games, won three straight and lost the next two. East Carolina continued its see-saw ride by sailing over the number with four victories in a row before losing to College Football Playoff hopeful Cincinnati.

The Underachievers

Boise State Broncos

Boise State was -125 to win the MWC title. The Broncos were in contention until the final weekend of the regular season before losing to San Diego State. Boise State has seven victories and cannot reach the nine it was projected to win.

Buffalo Bulls

Buffalo was +330 and a co-favorite to win the MAC championship with an over-under of 7½ wins. The Bulls even got a bit of national love at +50000, but they never gained traction in 2021. Buffalo was 4-4 before losing its remaining four games.

Florida International Panthers

Florida International’s modest win over-under was 4½. After winning their first game, the Panthers lost their final 11, cashing at -125 along the way for under players.

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