The Heisman Trophy is once again in the spotlight this bowl season, as 2018 Heisman winner Kyler Murray prepares to square off against the Heisman runner up Tua Tagovailoa in the Orange Bowl in the first round of the College Football Playoff.
With that pending Heisman bonanza in mind, let’s rewind a bit to recognize some of the standout bowl performances in the trophy’s history (in chronological order):
Doak Walker vs. Oregon, 1949 Cotton Bowl – Walker led SMU to a 21-13 victory over Oregon. He ran for 66 yards and one touchdown on 14 carries and threw for 79 yards on 6-of-10 passing. He also kicked two extra points.
Ernie Davis vs. Syracuse, 1961 Liberty Bowl – Davis was excellent in leading the Orange to a come-from-behind 15-14 win over Miami. He rushed for 140 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries. His touchdown and two-point conversion reception cut the lead to 14-8 and, then he rushed for 24 of the 51 yards on Syracuse’s game-winning drive.
Terry Baker vs. Villanova, 1962 Liberty Bowl – Baker, one of the original dual-threat quarterbacks, rushed for 137 yards and passed for 123 in Oregon State’s 6-0 win. His 99-yard first-quarter touchdown run remains the longest in bowl history.
Jim Plunkett vs. Ohio State, 1971 Rose Bowl – Plunkett helped engineer Stanford’s 27-17 upset of the unbeaten Buckeyes, throwing for 265 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing for 26 yards.
Johnny Rodgers vs. Notre Dame, 1973 Orange Bowl – The versatile Rodgers, who normally played wingback, played I-back against the Irish and capped his illustrious career by scoring four touchdowns and passing for another (a 52-yarder to Frosty Anderson). He finished with 15 carries for 84 yards rushing and caught three passes for 71 yards as the No. 8 Cornhuskers crushed the No. 10 Irish 40-6.
Tony Dorsett vs. Georgia, 1977 Sugar Bowl – Dorsett and Pittsburgh closed out a dream undefeated season by beating No. 5 Georgia 27-6. Dorsett rushed for 202 yards and a touchdown on 32 carries as the Panthers won the national title.
Charles White vs. Ohio State, 1980 Rose Bowl – No. 3 USC beat No. 1 Ohio State 17-16 as White overcame the flu to rush for 247 yards on 39 carries. He scored the winning touchdown on a dive over the pile with 1:32 to play to finish off an 83-yard drive in which he rushed for 71 yards on six attempts.
Barry Sanders vs. Wyoming, 1988 Holiday Bowl – Oklahoma State crushed Wyoming 62-14 as Sanders rushed for 222 yards and five touchdowns. If the NCAA counted bowl game stats from back then, his single-season numbers would be absurd: 2,850 rushing yards and 44 touchdowns.
Danny Wuerffel vs. Florida State, 1997 Sugar Bowl – A little over a month after getting sacked six times and throwing three picks against the terrific Seminole defense in a 24-21 loss, Wuerffel rebounded to throw for 306 yards and three touchdowns as the Gators walloped FSU 52-20 for their first national championship.
Ricky Williams vs. Mississippi State, 1999 Cotton Bowl – Williams rushed for 203 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries to lead the Longhorns to a 38-11 victory over the Bulldogs.
Ron Dayne vs. Stanford, 2000 Rose Bowl – Dayne keyed his team’s second straight Rose Bowl win by rushing for 209 yards and a touchdown on 34 carries as the Badgers beat Stanford 17-9.
Matt Leinart vs. Oklahoma, 2005 BCS title game – Leinart turned in a virtuoso performance against the Sooners, throwing for 332 yards and five touchdowns to lead the No. 1 Trojans to a 55-19 win over No. 2 Oklahoma in the BCS title game.
Johnny Manziel vs. Oklahoma, 2013 Cotton Bowl – Manziel exploded for a Heisman-bowl-record 516 yards of total offense as the Aggies routed the Sooners, 41-13. Manziel passed for 287 yards, rushed for 229 (a bowl record for a QB) and totaled four touchdowns.