After Further Review: The Heisman race so far is between Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud

There are so many games over the course of a college football weekend that some slip through the cracks and others require further examination the next day. Before we turn the page to Week 5, here’s a closer look at some of the most interesting outcomes of Week 4.

Alabama 55, Vanderbilt 3

It’s premature to consider anyone else but Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud for the 2022 Heisman Trophy.

Players like Hendon Hooker, Jalon Daniels and others have gotten rightful praise for their performances over the first few weeks of the season. But we shouldn’t talk about anyone else but the two favorites until they do something to remove themselves from consideration.

Young, the 2021 Heisman winner, was phenomenal against Vanderbilt on Saturday night. The game was overshadowed because Alabama opened as 40-point favorites, but Young threw for over 300 yards and four touchdowns in just the first half.

He finished the night 25-of-36 passing for 385 yards and those four scores before giving way to Jalen Milroe and Ty Simpson when the game was out of reach.

We shouldn't become used to what Young is doing in 2022 either. He was the main reason Alabama beat Texas in Week 2 after the Crimson Tide’s undisciplined performance and his stats through the first four games are in line with his Heisman-winning campaign. Young is completing 69% of his passes for 1,029 yards and 13 TDs to two interceptions this season.

That’s especially impressive when considering that Alabama is still working to replace Jameson Williams and John Metchie III on the outside. No Alabama player has more than 17 catches this season and six players have at least 10 grabs. Young is spreading the ball around to different receivers with great effect as Alabama looks for a go-to receiver.

- Nick Bromberg

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (9) talks with wide receiver Jermaine Burton (3) during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Vanderbilt, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)
Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (9) talks with wide receiver Jermaine Burton during the second half of Saturday's blowout win against Vanderbilt. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)

Ohio State 52, Wisconsin 21 Part 1

As you likely know, no player has won back-to-back Heismans since Archie Griffin in the 1970s. That’s likely a reason why Young is still the No. 2 favorite for the Heisman at +400.

Stroud is the favorite at BetMGM at +150 and has done nothing to see his Heisman odds drop throughout the first month of the season. He was 17-of-27 for 281 yards and five TDs in the Buckeyes’ thrashing of Wisconsin. And he had that performance by throwing passes to just four receivers while Jaxon Smith-Njigba sat out the game due to a hamstring injury.

Stroud averaged over 10 yards per pass and his biggest target was Emeka Egbuka. He had six catches for 118 yards and two scores. Wisconsin’s secondary was overmatched even though Egbuka, Julian Fleming, Cade Stover and Marvin Harrison Jr. were the only Ohio State players who caught passes.

Stroud has completed over 70% of his passes for 1,222 yards this season and has thrown 16 TDs to just the one pick he threw on Saturday night. He’s averaging nearly 11 yards per pass and his 63% completion percentage against the Badgers was his lowest of any game this season.

We all saw how explosive Stroud and Smith-Njigba can be together; Stroud’s numbers could get even better after Smith-Njigba gets healthy. And with Rutgers and Michigan State over the next two weeks before Ohio State’s bye, Stroud should pile up a lot more yards and TDs soon. And as he does that, his Heisman odds could get lower.

- Nick Bromberg

COLUMBUS, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 24: Quarterback C.J. Stroud #7 of the Ohio State Buckeyes throws the ball in the third quarter against the Wisconsin Badgers at Ohio Stadium on September 24, 2022 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Gaelen Morse/Getty Images)
Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud was impressive in a blowout victory against Wisconsin. (Photo by Gaelen Morse/Getty Images)

Ohio State 52, Wisconsin 21 Part 2

When you watch a game like Ohio State’s 52-21 demolition of Wisconsin on Saturday night, it’s hard not to feel like you’re watching two programs in two completely different stratospheres of the sport.

Wisconsin is a consistent winner. The Badgers are 67-25 with three division titles in eight seasons under Paul Chryst. But when you watch Wisconsin face a team like Ohio State, a perennial national title contender, it’s blatantly obvious how far away the Badgers are from the top teams in college football.

Ohio State jumped out to a 28-0 lead before Wisconsin crossed midfield. And with the slow and plodding way the Badgers play offense, there was no chance for a comeback even with three-quarters of the game still to be played.

Though the Badgers have “modernized” their offense to an extent this season, there are still fullbacks and tight ends galore and plenty of under-center runs. Quarterback Graham Mertz has not come close to developing into a player befitting of his lofty recruiting rankings and there is still a stark lack of talent at receiver. Only Braelon Allen, the 235-pound sophomore running back, looked like he belonged on the same field as OSU’s star-studded outfit on Saturday night.

It was an ugly night for the Badgers who are 2-2 on the year (there was also a disappointing home loss to Washington State earlier this month) and feel like a program that has quietly descended into the middle of the pack in the Big Ten over the past few seasons. Since the start of the 2020 season, Wisconsin is 9-7 in Big Ten play. The Badgers have also lost 10 of their past 15 games against ranked opponents.

The Badgers have always done more with less, developing under the radar recruits into all-conference players and NFL draft picks. Wisconsin has recruited better than its historical norms in recent years, yet that influx of talent has not elevated the program’s trajectory in any way. Even the heralded Wisconsin defense led by Jim Leonhard had no answers for what was on the other sideline in Columbus.

Maybe comparing Wisconsin and Ohio State is unfair. But the yearly expectation for the Badgers has been to win the Big Ten West title. If they don’t right the ship, the Badgers could miss out on a trip to the Big Ten title game for the third consecutive season. Wisconsin has played in six of the 11 conference title games, so that would be another sign of regression for the program.

- Sam Cooper

Michigan 34, Maryland 27

Michigan got a much-needed wake-up call from Maryland on Saturday. The Wolverines were not challenged through three games as they beat Colorado State, Hawaii and UConn by a combined margin of 166-17. But Maryland showed the Wolverines that there is plenty for them to work on as they get into the thick of the Big Ten season.

Even after the Terps spotted Michigan a 7-0 lead by fumbling the opening kickoff, they moved the ball with ease for much of the first half. The Terps tied the score at 10-10 late in the first and later took a 13-10 lead. Taulia Tagovailoa had a lot of success carving up Michigan's secondary while the Terps' offensive line had a consistently good push against a bunch of newer faces in the trenches for the Wolverines.

It was also a test for new Michigan starting quarterback J.J. McCarthy, who was up and down in his first Big Ten start. He completed 18 of 26 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns, but made some questionable decisions along the way. He held the ball way too long on several plays, missed a few easy throws and missed multiple opportunities to take off and run.

McCarthy made some nice throws in the second half to help Michigan build a lead, but he would have been under a lot more pressure had it not been for a career performance from running back Blake Corum. Corum rushed for 243 yards and two touchdowns, one that gave UM the lead right before halftime and another that put the game out of reach late in the fourth quarter.

McCarthy will make his first road start next week in one of the Big Ten’s toughest environments — Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. Iowa is struggling mightily on offense but still has a tremendous defense. It’s going to be a significant test for McCarthy ahead of games against top Big Ten East competition like Ohio State and Penn State.

- Sam Cooper

Sep 24, 2022; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines running back Blake Corum (2) rushes in the first half against the Maryland Terrapins at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Maryland couldn't keep up with Michigan running back Blake Corum, who tallied a career-high 243 rushing yards in the Wolverines' victory Saturday in Ann Arbor. (Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)

Extra Points

  • Florida State 44, Boston College 14: Boston College might be the worst team in the ACC. Georgia Tech is certainly in that conversation, but BC is off to a miserable 1-3 start this season after getting demolished Saturday night. The offense — particularly the line — has been awful. BC is averaging just 4.32 yards per play. Only Iowa and Colorado are worse among Power Five programs. Meanwhile, the Eagles' defense can’t stop anyone. Head coach Jeff Hafley has a lot of things to figure out with games against Louisville, Clemson and Wake Forest next on the schedule.

  • Miami (Ohio) 17, Northwestern 14: Northwestern has fallen off a cliff after beating Nebraska in Dublin in Week 0. Since then, the Wildcats have lost at home to Duke, Southern Illinois and Miami. Northwestern was favored by at least a touchdown in all three games. With Big Ten play ahead (Penn State and Wisconsin are Northwestern’s next two games), this season could get uglier for head coach Pat Fitzgerald and the Wildcats.

  • Troy 16, Marshall 7: Marshall has lost back-to-back games after upsetting Notre Dame on the road. The Thundering Herd fell to Bowling Green last week before mustering only 174 yards of offense in a road loss to Troy on Saturday. Troy, as evidenced by its near-upset over App State, is a solid team but this is still a disappointing turn of events for Marshall after such a monumental win in South Bend.

  • Navy 23, East Carolina 20 (2OT): After losing to Delaware and Memphis to open the season, Navy needed a win Saturday and it got one by upsetting ECU on the road. The Midshipmen went a combined 7-15 in 2020 and 2021 and things seemed to be trending in the wrong direction for head coach Ken Niumatalolo. After a bye week, though, Navy was able to gut out a road win with a trip to Air Force coming next weekend.

  • UL Monroe 21, Louisiana 17: Before last week, Louisiana had the nation’s longest FBS winning streak at 15 straight. Now, the Ragin’ Cajuns are on a two-game losing streak after getting upset by UL Monroe on Saturday. UL led 17-7 entering the fourth quarter before ULM scored the game’s final 14 points to knock off the Ragin’ Cajuns for the first time since 2017. With Billy Napier now at Florida, Michael Desormeaux is off to a 2-2 start as Louisiana’s head coach.