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.
Exploring the psychological impacts of a two-month, solo Antarctic expedition
Next month, British explorer Sam Cox will spend two months, completely alone, trekking across one of the Earth’s last true wildernesses – Antarctica.
While travelling 2,000km across snow and ice requires a huge amount of physical endurance, the mental impacts of this journey are perhaps, even more significant.
Alexandra de Carvalho from the Austrian Space Forum will be working closely with Sam pre- and post-expedition, to understand the psychological impacts of the journey.
“The first thing to consider is the sheer isolation of this challenge. Two months with extremely minimal human contact is not something to be underestimated,” she said.
“Our work is mainly concerned with space, and people usually think that space is more distant than Antarctica, but actually it’s not true. It’s much easier sometimes to come back from space, to come back to Earth if there’s an emergency.
“More people have gone into space than trekked to the South Pole.
“To come back to the mainland from Antarctica can be extremely difficult, which exacerbates that feeling of distance. You cannot just be evacuated if you want.”
The only link Sam will have to the outside world is a beacon plotting his incremental location in case of emergency, and very limited communications via satphone.
Alexandra added: “Separated from family and friends, this kind of study will help to really understand more about the psychology of people.
“In fact, this is the main reason we were so keen to work with Sam. He’s in a very special situation, being alone with nobody to share his feelings with, nobody to share his thoughts with.
“It’s rare that scientists can study subjects that are completely isolated for this amount of time, let alone in conditions as extreme as those in Antarctica.
“We really want to get an idea how a person emotionally regulates in this kind of scenario.”
Sam will be taking daily voice recordings of the experiences and emotions he’s feeling during this period of extreme isolation.
Alexandra said: “For this research to be useful, it’s really important that we hear frequent and specific audio diary entries from Sam.
“It’s common for people to look back on an experience like this and say – it was stressful, but it was nice – which is not precise enough for us.
“We’re using audio equipment to make this as accessible for Sam as possible – writing could be a challenge in extremely low temperatures.
“In similar studies, we’ve asked participants to keep written diaries as the fear of being overheard by other participants might stunt their honestly, but that’s not going to be an issue with Sam, since he’ll be completely alone.”
There will be other psychological challenges for Sam, as well as isolation.
Sam said: “An important thing to consider is the 24-hour daylight, and how my body will adapt to that.
“Because I’m travelling during Antarctica’s summer months, the sun will never actually set, meaning my circadian rhythm is likely to get pretty confused.
“A lack of sleep could be detrimental to my physical and mental well-being, so it’s something I’m having to prepare for.”
Alexandra said: “Sensory deprivation could also be a challenge. It’s an interesting environment, but it’s very monotonous, so it depends on the person and how they perceive it.
“For example, Sam might find it interesting to have the colour green. While other people would be fascinated by the sky and the sea, he might be like wow – I really miss the forest and more complex environments.”
Alexandra continued: “This research is not only helping us understand the emotional impact of extreme environments, but it’s helping us understand the type of person that’s suitable for working in these remote places.
“We want to know how people feel in these environments, which emotions are more dominant? How do these people deal with that?
“When people are stationed in distant locations, either from Earth or in polar expeditions, they have to be really trained to deal with their feelings autonomously.
“But we can only do that by understanding when happens within a person and what they’re likely to feel so we can prepare them beforehand. You can prepare, but you cannot run away from your emotions.”
Sam leaves the UK for Antarctica on 24th October, with plans to complete the expedition by mid-January.
He has been supported by Team Forces and Resilient Nutrition to embark on this epic adventure.
For more information, follow Sam on www.frozendagger.co.uk
Improve your marathon time with proper pre-hydration
Andy Blow, sweat expert and founder of leading sports fuelling and hydration company Precision Fuel and Hydration, discusses how pre hydration can help improve your marathon time.
Dehydration can seriously impact an athlete’s performance, and enjoyment of a marathon.
Yet according to the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 31% of amateur athletes arrive at training sessions or events dehydrated.
For those looking to shave minutes off their race time – simply starting properly hydrated could be the answer.
We caught up with Andy Blow, CEO of Precision Fuel and Hydration, to find out how pre hydration can have such a dramatic effect on your marathon, and how runners can start a race in the best possible condition.
The benefits of pre-hydrating
Optimising your hydration status before a marathon, or ‘preloading’, can increase your blood volume and significantly improve your performance.
According to Sport Nutrition by Jeukendrup and Gleeson, dehydration of just 8% of each individual’s total-body water could half their exercise endurance, based on a 121 minute session.
Research has proven that taking onboard a high concentration of electrolytes, the salts and minerals that help your body function, promotes fluid retention which in turn increases the blood volume in your body.
This increased blood volume supports cardiovascular function helping transport oxygen and fuel to your muscles, and your body’s ability to dissipate heat produced by your working muscles.
This can reduce fatigue and improve endurance performance – helping you run your best marathon possible.
On the other hand, exercising in a dehydrated state can reduce blood volume, limit cardiovascular performance and limit the body’s ability to cool itself through sweat – all limiting the body’s ability to perform.
Pre-hydration is more than drinking water
Hydration is much more than just the amount of water we drink.
Your body is constantly aiming to maintain a balance between water and electrolytes.
It’s therefore important to take on correct levels of both to properly hydrate.
Drinking just water can upset that balance, diluting the body’s concentration of salt. Always wanting to maintain equilibrium, the body’s solution to this is to expel the excess water through urine. It’s basically going make you pee!
Unfortunately, this will also take with it some of the electrolytes in your system, further diluting your blood sodium levels and impacting your performance (and wellbeing in extreme cases).
However, consuming a strong electrolyte solution in the build up to a marathon will boost your salt levels, encouraging your body to retain the water you drink, helping you to start the race fully hydrated.
How to hydrate before a marathon
The timings of a race day, particularly an event as large as the London Marathon, can be vastly different to an athlete’s usual routine.
That’s why planning your hydration strategy is key.
Athletes preparing for a marathon should drink a strong electrolyte drink the night before the race to encourage your body to retain fluid, which will boost blood volume.
Aim for drinks containing >1,000mg of sodium per litre.
The morning of the race, 90 minutes before the start is recommended, athletes should drink another bottle of strong electrolyte drink to top-up blood plasma volume.
It is important to finish this drink 45 minutes before you set off to give the body time to process it.
While this plan will enable the average marathon participant to arrive at the start line hydrated, every person’s sweat concentration and sweat rate will be different, so athletes looking to maximise their potential should know their numbers, do a sweat test and form a more personalised hydration plan.
Dangers of over drinking
As much as beginning a marathon dehydrated can negatively impact your performance, there is also a danger that athletes can drink too much water in anticipation of a race – leading to a new set of problems.
Nervous drinking before a race is common for newcomers to marathon running, and those who haven’t planned their hydration.
Drinking too much water without taking on electrolytes can lead to hyponatremia.
Hyponatremia can be summarised as low blood sodium levels. This can be caused by inadequately replacing the sodium lost when sweating, compounded by drinking plain water or weak sports drinks mixed that further dilute sodium on the body.
Sodium is vital for several bodily functions like blood pressure and working nerves and muscles.
Hyponatremia can cause nausea or vomiting, fatigue, loss of energy, muscle weakness and cramps; all things you want to avoid when running a marathon.
According to National Kidney Foundation, when sodium levels are particularly low, more serious health implications can occur, even resulting in death.
Don’t waste your training
It’s probable that if you’re signed up to a spring marathon, you’ve done months of hard training.
By making sure you start the race properly hydrated, you not only reduce unnecessary discomfort, fatigue and muscle weakness, but will allow your body to realise its full potential come race day.
Training is also an ideal opportunity to test out your hydration strategy. Try running through your pre-race hydration and timings with the confidence that you are in the best possible shape.
Finding time for training in the busiest of schedules
Whether you’re a serious runner or casual athlete, fitting your training sessions into a busy schedule can be tough. Once you factor in rigid work hours, family duties, or other commitments, it can feel like there are few available opportunities to get your trainers on and hit the roads. Andy Blow, former elite triathlete, leading sports scientist, and CEO and founder of sport nutrition multinational Precision Fuel & Hydration (PF&H), shares his tips for training with a busy schedule.
Make a plan that works for you
Planning ahead is the key to making the most of every hour in the day.
Consolidate all your commitments onto one central calendar. Whether it’s work meetings, school runs, or domestic chores, you’ll be able to get a clearer idea of your schedule, and what is going to be a realistic amount of training for you to achieve.
Instead of picking a high intensity programme, then trying to cram it into your week, start with non-negotiable commitments and build up your plan around these.
It’s a more sustainable way to train, which means you’re more likely to stick to the plan and hit your long-term goals.
Use your time wisely
Waking up an hour or two earlier means you can get some training in before your day has even begun.
Not only does this add extra hours into your schedule, but they’re hours which are unlikely to be filled with other commitments. How often do you plan an evening run, only for something more pressing to be added to your diary halfway through the day?
Hit the trails early and clock up those morning miles before the world wakes up.
If you’re responsible for taking children or other family members to clubs and appointments, use this time to your advantage. Keep a pair of running shoes in the car and plan a route to complete while you wait.
If your office building has a shower available, turn your commute into a training opportunity by running part or the whole of your journey.
Training smarter also means you’ll get the most out of your time. Instead of running for the sake of running, incorporate sessions that are specific to your end goal, whether this means regular hill sessions, speed intervals or longer, slow runs.
Fuel, hydrate, and recover
What you do between sessions can be as important as the training itself; you’ll never get the best out of a run if you’re lacking energy or have improperly recovered and hydrated. When you’re short on time, every run must count.
When people talk about hydration, it’s often about what and how much you should drink during exercise. But your performance is also hugely influenced by how hydrated you are when you start exercising in the first place.
There’s strong evidence to show that taking in additional sodium with fluids before you start sweating is effective in promoting increased acute fluid retention and improving endurance performance, especially in the warmer weather.
There’s more to fuelling than just calorie intake, and there’s a few common pitfalls which can catch you out.
Not taking enough carbohydrate to adequately support your rate of energy expenditure is the number one fuelling mistake, but it’s possible to take on too much carb as well – primarily because of the gastrointestinal (GI) distress a sugar overdose can cause.
Fuelling using pre-packaged sports nutrition is a no-brainer for short to moderate training sessions or endurance events, where taking in palatable, simple carbohydrates is the key to success. They’re convenient and can simplify getting your carb intake just right.
Despite already recommending getting up that bit earlier sleep is also worthy of mention and is an extremely powerful tool for recovery – something many of us are guilty of neglecting. If you’re an athlete, getting enough sleep should be as big a part of your training program as your exercise sessions.
Set a clear goal
Even if you’re a casual runner, take on the challenge of a race or event you can train for. Having a goal will keep you motivated, especially if it has a fixed date to work towards.
True performance comes from long term consistency, not weeks of hard training, so a long-term goal is a great way to stay accountable over a sustained period.
With busy schedules and multiple commitments, life can very easily get in the way of our goals. But I truly believe that there’s time for training in even the busiest schedule if you train smart, set priorities, and plan your time carefully.