Heisman Halloween History

Ricky Williams walks off the Nebraska field with Coach Mack Brown after Texas ended the Cornhuskers' 47-game home win streak.

In a quirk of the calendar, bye weeks and Heisman fate, 2020 was the first time the Heisman Trophy winner played on Halloween in over two decades.

On Oct. 31, 2020, DeVonta Smith didn’t know he was going to win the Heisman just over two months later, but but he definitely had some tricks up his sleeve for Mississippi State.

The future-Heisman winner caught 11 passes for 203 yards and a season-high four TDs in the Crimson Tide’s 41-0 blowout of the Bulldogs, one of the most productive Heisman Halloween efforts in the trophy’s history.

It was just the 11th time a Heisman winner played on Halloween during his winning season and the first since 1998. It also marked the 10th straight time the Heisman winner won his game on Halloween.

Coincidentally, Smith’s Alabama Heisman predecessors, Mark Ingram (2009) and Derrick Henry (2015) both won their awards during seasons when Halloween fell on a Saturday, but the Tide had bye weeks that day during both seasons.

Texas’s Ricky Williams had been the last Heisman winner to suit up on Halloween as he rang in the 1998 holiday with 150 yards rushing on 37 carries as the Longhorns upset No. 19 Nebraska, 20-16, ending the Huskers’ 47-game home win streak.

In 1992, Gino Torretta completed 28 of 40 passes for 363 yards and three touchdowns in Miami’s 35-23 victory over West Virginia.

In 1987, Tim Brown had 173 all-purpose yards and a TD as the Irish dispatched of Navy, 56-13.

Six years earlier, Marcus Allen earned his share of Halloween candy in 1981 after he posted a pair of career-high efforts with 289 yards on 44 carries — scoring four TDs in the process — in a 41-17 blasting of Washington State.

In 1970, Stanford’s Jim Plunkett only completed 13 passes on Halloween, but it was good enough to go for 210 yards and three scores in a 48-10 win over Oregon State.

Notre Dame’s John Huarte’s yards per completion was even more impressive on Halloween in 1964. He averaged 27.4 yards per completed pass, throwing for three TDs, as the Irish shut out Navy, 40-0.

In 1959, LSU’s Billy Cannon had the most famous Heisman Halloween moment in trophy history, returning a fourth-quarter punt 89 yards against No. 3 Ole Miss for the Tigers only score of the game in a 7-3 win.

In 1953, John Lattner’s Notre Dame squad beat Navy on Halloween, 38-7, while in 1942, Frank Sinkwich’s Georgia Bulldogs beat No. 10 Alabama, 21-10. Sinkwich threw for 230 yards and a TD while also scoring once on the ground.

In 1936, Yale and Larry Kelley fell to Dartmouth, 11-7, making him the only Heisman winner to lose on Halloween during his trophy season.