The top-25 matchup between No. 1 Alabama and No. 12 Ole Miss has all the makings of a thrilling, offensive-fueled shootout.
At least, if Rebels coach Lane Kiffin has anything to say about it.
His Rebels boast not only the nation’s top offense (635.3 yards per game), but also the nation’s top scoring offense (52.7 points per game), the 11th-highest passing offense (336.7 yards per game) and fourth-highest rush offense (298.7 yards per game).
No player is more important to that success than fourth-year quarterback Matt Corral. The redshirt junior is coming off a breakout season in 2020, his first under Kiffin: He completed 70.9 percent of his passes for 3,337 yards and 29 touchdowns to 14 interceptions. He’s off to an even better start in 2021, leading the Rebels to an early 3-0 record, punctuated by an impressive 32-point average margin of victory. He will be a headache for Nick Saban and defensive coordinator Pete Golding to game-plan for.
But Corral has his work cut out for him on Saturday, not only because Ole Miss is facing its first ranked opponent in Alabama, and not only because the Crimson Tide have one of the deepest front sevens in college football. His crimson-and-white-clad contemporary on the other side of the field, Bryce Young, is also one of the nation’s best quarterbacks.
The sophomore has been fantastic in his first season starting for Alabama, creating no worries among Crimson Tide fans about whether he could succeed Mac Jones. Indeed, Young passed his total for passing touchdowns through four games in 2020, a season in which Jones finished second nationally with 41 passing touchdowns.
Perhaps it’s fitting, then, that Corral and Young, both of whom hail from the state of California, are the two favorites to take home the 2021 Heisman Trophy. A win on Saturday won’t guarantee which quarterback wins college football’s most coveted individual award — but a good showing and claim to a head-to-head victory over the other would certainly set an early narrative.
With that, Sporting News looks at each quarterbacks’ stats before Saturday’s game, one that could go a long way in determining this year’s Heisman winner:
Matt Corral vs. Bryce Young Heisman odds
Corral leads all players in the Heisman Trophy odds ahead of Week 5, at +150. Young heads into Saturday’s meeting with the second-best overall odds, at +300. No other player has better odds than +1400.
Below are the top 10 odds to win the Heisman Trophy, courtesy of FanDuel:
- Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss: +150
- Bryce Young, QB, Alabama: +300
- JT Daniels, QB, Georgia: +1400
- Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati: +2000
- Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma: +3000
- TreVeyon Henderson, RB, Ohio State: +3000
- CJ Verdell, RB, Oregon: +3000
- Anthony Brown, QB, Oregon: +5000
- Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas: +5000
- CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State: +5000
Matt Corral vs. Bryce Young best game
Both players are coming off their best game of the 2021 season, at least as far as stats are concerned.
Corral completed 23 of 31 passes for 335 yards and three passing touchdowns to zero interceptions against Tulane in Week 3. He also added four touchdowns on the ground, rushing 13 times for 68 yards (a 5.2 yard-per-carry average). His seven touchdowns tied an Ole Miss single-game record, not only earning him Walter Camp Offensive Player of the Week honors for the second consecutive week, but also making him the first player in SEC history to pass for three touchdowns and run for four in a single game:
Young was similarly effective against Southern Miss in Week 4. He completed 20 of 22 passes (90.9 percent) for 313 yards and five touchdowns to one interception. His five-touchdown statline gave him 15 passing scores on the season through just four games, passing Jones’ four-game total of 12.
Matt Corral vs. Bryce Young play style
Corral was labeled a pro-style quarterback in the class of 2018, ranking fourth among quarterbacks in his play style and 63rd nationally, per 247Sports’ Composite rankings. Conversely, Young ranked as the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the class of 2020, and its No. 2 overall player. Naturally, Corral and Young have differing play styles — though they seem to be the inverse of their labels.
On top of Corral’s 997 passing yards and nine passing touchdowns, he also has 33 rush attempts on the season, 158 rushing yards and a 4.8 yards-per-carry average. He has five rushing touchdowns as well, including a four-touchdown game against Tulane in Week 3. For his career, he has 215 attempts for 882 yards, 12 rushing touchdowns and a 4.1 yard-per-carry average. Here’s an example of his rushing ability on a zone-read option against Louisville, whom Ole Miss beat 43-24 in Week 1.
Young, who carries the dual-threat label, has considerably less mileage: Through four games in 2021, he has 10 attempts for minus-15 rushing yards and zero touchdowns. But Young has never considered “dual threat” to mean ability to rush for yards.
“People in the (NFL), the Lamar Jacksons, Kyler Murrays, the Baker Mayfields, people like that are really pushing the envelope of what dual-threat means,” he told USA Today in 2019. “People think a dual-threat is someone who can, a running back that can throw a little bit … but really dual-threat should mean, and it does mean in my mind, someone who has the ability that can really do both as far as extending plays and run the ball but is still a passer.”
Indeed, Young often uses his ability to navigate inside and out of the pocket to give his receivers more time to get open. He most often looks downfield while escaping pressure, and has even bypassed opportunities to scramble in favor of passing.
Here is one such example from Alabama’s 31-29 win over Florida:
Bryce Young was able to avoid being sack by Florida’s linebacker Mohamoud Diabate in this play. I for one would like for Bryce to use his legs more when he has open space to run#RollTide 🅰️🌊🐘 pic.twitter.com/Y11kiawx2C
— Alabama Rydeouts 🐘🅰️ (@MarvinBama16) September 21, 2021
Matt Corral vs. Bryce Young stats comparison
Generally speaking, Young has the better passing stats, though Corral boasts significantly better rushing numbers. Below are their stats thus far through the 2021 season — Corral through three games, and Young through four:
|Passing yards||FBS rank|
|Passing touchdowns||FBS rank|
|Quarterback rating||FBS rank|
Yards per attempt
|YPA (FBS rank)||Adjusted YPA (FBS rank)|
|Matt Corral||10.4 (4th)||12.3 (3rd)|
|Bryce Young||9.2 (21st)||11.3 (9th)|
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