Can Justin Fields join this list? Ranking the B1G's Top 10 Heisman Trophy winners
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields will take the field Saturday against Nebraska to start what many think might be a Heisman Trophy season. Fields likely has the greatest chance to be the first B1G Heisman winner since former Buckeyes QB Troy Smith won it in 2006.
Fields is up against the current Heisman favorite, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and his teammate running back Travis Etienne. In addition, Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, wide receiver Jaylen Waddle and running back Najee Harris are among the contenders as well as Florida quarterback Kyle Trask. Outside of Fields, there isn’t much Heisman hype inside the B1G heading into its opening weekend of the season.
If Fields can go on a magical run for Ohio State and put together a phenomenal season, this would be the 15th time the Heisman Trophy winner came from the B1G and the 7th time a Buckeye has been given the award. The Heisman Trophy was first awarded in 1935. Below are the top 10 Heisman winners of all time from the B1G conference.
This list does not include players whose teams were not members of the B1G at the time they won the award. This eliminated Penn State’s John Cappelletti, who won it in 1973, as well as several Nebraska players, including Eric Crouch (2001), Mike Rozier (1983) and Johnny Rodgers (1972).
10. Ohio State QB Troy Smith (2006)
First, let’s start with the most recent Heisman winner from Ohio State and the B1G with Troy Smith. He received 86.7% of the votes after leading the Buckeyes to an undefeated season in 2006. In that year, Smith completed 63.5% of his passes and threw for 2,542 yards and tossed 30 touchdowns, though the Buckeyes lost to Vince Young and Texas in the title game.
9. Michigan RB Tom Harmon (1940)
Tom Harmon led college football in scoring in consecutive years in 1939 and 1940. In the 1940 season, he rushed for 15 touchdowns and finished with 852 rushing yards. He also passed for 506 yards and threw 6 touchdown passes for the Wolverines, who finished 7-1. Harmon closed his career with an epic performance against Ohio State. He rushed for 3 touchdowns, threw 2 touchdowns, kicked 4 extra points and intercepted 3 passes in a 40-0 victory. Michigan could use a performance like that one of these years against the Buckeyes.
8. Wisconsin FB Alan Ameche (1954)
You cannot put a list like this together and not include a fullback winning the Heisman Trophy. Wisconsin’s Alan Ameche rushed for 641 yards and scored 9 touchdowns playing on offense and defense. When his career was finished, he had 3,345 rushing yards, which led the NCAA at the time. Ameche led Wisconsin to a 7-2 regular-season record in 1954.
7. Iowa RB Nile Kinnick (1939)
Nile Kinnick was Iowa’s running back and top passer during the 1939 season. In that year, he was on the field for an average of 57 minutes per game. He led the Hawkeyes to a 6-1-1 record and finished with 638 passing yards and 11 touchdowns. He also rushed for 374 yards and 5 touchdowns. He also finished with 8 interceptions as he led the Hawkeyes to a 6-1-1 record. According to his Heisman bio, Kinnick would have gone to Minnesota, but he failed a physical. So he became Iowa’s first Heisman Trophy winner instead.
6. Michigan WR Desmond Howard (1991)
Michigan wide receiver Desmond Howard led the Wolverines to a 10-1 regular season, including a B1G title in 1991. He finished with 19 receiving touchdowns on 62 total catches for 985 yards. He also added a rushing touchdown, punt return touchdown and kick return touchdown. Howard became the first receiver to lead the conference in scoring with 138 points. He famously struck the Heisman pose after returning a punt 92 yards for a TD against Ohio State.
5. Ohio State RB Eddie George (1995)
Ohio State running back Eddie George beat out Tommie Frazier and future Heisman winner Danny Wuerffel for the award in 1995. George finished with 1,927 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns. He also caught 47 passes for 417 yards and an additional touchdown. George led the Buckeyes to an 11-1 regular season as he capped it off with a Heisman Trophy.
4. Ohio State RB Archie Griffin (1974)
As a junior running back for the Buckeyes, Archie Griffin won his first Heisman Trophy in 1974 with a career year. After reaching 1,577 yards as a sophomore, Griffin rushed for 1,620 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior as he became the 4th Ohio State player to win the award.
3. Michigan CB Charles Woodson (1997)
Who says the defense doesn’t get any respect? Well kind of. Wolverines star Charles Woodson played on both sides of the ball as a cornerback and wide receiver. As a junior in 1997, he finished with 7 interceptions and had 43 tackles. He also caught 11 passes for 231 yards with 2 receiving touchdowns and a rushing touchdown. In addition to playing offense and defense, Woodson was an effective punt returner, finishing with 283 return yards and added another touchdown. He beat out Peyton Manning for the honor.
Michigan finished the regular season undefeated and claimed a share of the national title with a 21-16 victory over Washington State in the Rose Bowl.
2. Wisconsin RB Ron Dayne (1999)
Wisconsin running back Ron Dayne was rewarded with the 2nd Heisman in team history after rushing for over 2,000 yards for the 2nd time in his career. After winning his 2nd consecutive Rose Bowl MVP, Dayne finished the 1999 season with 2,034 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns. Including bowl games, Dayne finished his career with 7,125 yards, the most of any running back in the history of college football.
1. Ohio State RB Archie Griffin (1975)
To this day, Griffin remains the only 2-time Heisman Trophy winner as he repeated his 1974 season with another spectacular performance the following year, edging Chuck Muncie and Ricky Bell for the award. In 1975, the Buckeyes finished 11-0 as Griffin ran for 1,357 yards and 7 touchdowns. Though his numbers weren’t as good as they were the previous year, being able to repeat a Heisman season with another is an incredible feat and something we haven’t seen before or after.
Over 4 seasons, the Columbus, Ohio native led his hometown Buckeyes to a 40-5-1 record with 4 B1G titles and was named a first-team All-American 3 times. Griffin set a then-record 5,177 career rushing yards and ran for 100 yards in 31 consecutive regular-season games.
Will Fields be able to crack this list at the end of 2020? His Heisman campaign gets started on Saturday.