Total Offense and the Heisman

One of the leading statistical indicators of late for determining the Heisman winner has been total offense — meaning, yards gained running and passing. As I talked about in my story today about Super Quarterbacks, the last four Heisman winning quarterbacks have piled up an average of 4,566 yards of total offense in their Heisman-winning seasons (these numbers include the bowls). Not surprisingly, those four winners are among the top 10 all-time among Heisman seasons for total offense.

Johnny Manziel is at 4,600 yards so far in 2012, which would put him fifth on this list. Given that he averages 383 yards of total offense per game, he has a chance to catch the overall leader with a big game in the Cotton Bowl.

Here’s the top 10 total offense totals among Heisman winners in the year they won the trophy:

1. Ty Detmer, BYU, 1990 — 5,022 yards

2. Robert Griffin III, Baylor, 2011 — 4,992 yards

3. Sam Bradford, Oklahoma, 2008 — 4, 767 yards

4. Andre Ware, Houston , 1989 — 4,661 yards

5. Cameron Newton, Auburn, 2010 — 4,327 yards

6. Tim Tebow, Florida, 2007 — 4,181 yards

7. Chris Weinke, Florida State, 2000 — 4,070 yards

8. Carson Palmer, USC, 2002 — 3,820 yards

9. Jason White, Oklahoma, 2003 — 3,744 yards

10. Doug Flutie, Boston College, 1984 — 3,603 yards


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Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of, a site dedicated to analysis of the Heisman Trophy and college football. Dubbed “the foremost authority on the Heisman” by Sports Illustrated, HP is regularly quoted or cited during football season in newspapers across the country. He is also a regular contributor on sports talk radio and television.

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