Northern Illinois and the Heisman

jordan lynch

Continuing our series before the Heisman ceremony, here’s a look at the brief Heisman history of Northern Illinois.

Northern Illinois

Finalists: Jordan Lynch (2013)

Player Year Position Place Points Winner
LeShon Johnson 1993 RB 6th 176 Charlie Ward
Jordan Lynch 2012 QB 7th 52 Johnny Manziel


NIU’s lone foray into the Heisman universe before Jordan Lynch came along happened back in 1993, when running back LeShon Johnson finished sixth in the voting. Johnson led the nation in rushing that year with 1,976 yards and 12 touchdowns. He appeared 115 ballots and collected five first-place votes and 176 total points to finish a shade behind fifth-place Glenn Foley of Boston College (180 points). Charlie Ward ran away with the trophy that year and the third finalist, David Palmer of Alabama, totaled just 292 points, so Johnson was decently close to getting to New York. His best region was the Midwest, naturally, where he finished third.

One other Huskie running back, Garrett Wolfe, flirted with the Heisman top 10 during the 2006 season, but did not actually end up there.

And now we have Jordan Lynch, who finished seventh in the Heisman in 2012 and who has a chance to notch the best-ever finish by a non-BCS-conference player in the BCS era. His 4,557 yards of total offense and 45 touchdowns are in the wheelhouse of what recent Heisman winners have produced and he’s likely to become the first-ever 2,000 passer/2,000 rusher when bowl season is over. There’s no doubt that Lynch is the greatest player in NIU history and his status as a finalist is a testament to that.

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The third No. 5

Jameis Winston will be the third Heisman winner to wear No. 5.

The other two are Paul Hornung of Notre Dame, who won the award in 1956 — the only player to win the Heisman on a losing team — and Reggie Bush, who won in 2005 before having his award vacated in 2010.

The numbers with the most Heismans?  That’d be 14 and 20, each with five.

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Boston College and the Heisman

 doug flutie

The Heisman presentation is approaching, so let’s have a look at the Heisman history of each school involved in this year’s ceremony. First up is Boston College.

Boston College

Finalists: Andre Williams (2013), Doug Flutie (1984), Doug Flutie (1983)

Player Year Position Place Points Winner
Mike Holovak 1942 FB 4th 95 Frank Sinkwich
Doug Flutie 1983 QB 3rd 253 Mike Rozier
Doug Flutie 1984 QB 1st 2,240 Flutie
Glenn Foley 1993 QB 5th 180 Charlie Ward
Matt Ryan 2007 QB 7th 63 Tim Tebow


Mike Holovak was an All-American fullback for the Eagles in 1942. He finished 964 points behind that year’s winner, Georgia halfback Frank Sinkwich. He was also just a few points behind third place finisher Clint Castleberry of Georgia Tech, the only freshman to finish in the top three of the vote until Herschel Walker in 1980. Holovak finished third in the East region, fifth in the South and fourth in the Southwest. Holovak served as co-captain of the Eagles’ squad that entered the final weeks of the 1942 campaign as the top-ranked college team in the country. However, on November 28 they were upset by arch-rival Holy Cross, a defeat that canceled a victory party that night at Boston’s Cocoanut Grove hotel. That worked out well as a horrendous fire swept through the building that night, killing 492 people and injuring hundreds more.

BC didn’t have another top 10 finisher until Doug Flutie appeared on the scene. As a junior in 1983, he threw for 2,724 yards with 17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions while leading the Eagles to a 9-3 record and a No. 19 final ranking. For that effort, he finished third behind winner Mike Rozier of Nebraska and Steve Young of BYU. He entered 1984 as the Heisman front runner and promptly snapped the streak of running back winners that dated back to 1972. He threw for 3,634 yards and 30 touchdowns with 13 interceptions and left BC as the NCAA’s all-time passing yardage leader with 10,579 yards. He is best known for his Hail Mary pass play to beat Miami in the closing seconds of a 47-45 victory.

Contrary to what some think, that play did not win him the Heisman as ballots had already been mailed in. Flutie ran away with the trophy, sweeping the six regions and totaling 2,240 points to nearly double the total of runner up Keith Byars of Ohio State. Of course, Flutie went on to a rather interesting career in both the CFL and NFL.

Glenn Foley finished fifth in 1993, the year Charlie Ward of Florida State won the Heisman. Foley did something that year that Ward could not — he beat Notre Dame.

BC’s late November upset of the No. 1 Irish allowed the Seminoles to claim the national title after falling to the Irish earlier in the season. Foley threw for 3,397 yards and 25 touchdowns that year as the Eagles finished 9-3. He totaled 180 points in the Heisman vote, with his best region being the Northeast, where he finished third.

For a stretch of the 2007 season, Matt Ryan was considered a legitimate Heisman contender. The senior quarterback had BC at 8-0 at one point, but an upset loss to FSU ended his Heisman dreams. He ended throwing for 4,507 yards and 31 touchdowns (and 19 picks) and he faded to a seventh place, well behind winner Tim Tebow of Florida. Of course, Ryan would go on to become a first-round draft pick and a two-time Pro Bowler for the Atlanta Falcons.

Williams is his school’s first Heisman finalist since Flutie in 1984. He rushed for 2,102 yards, scored 17 touchdowns, and averaged 6.4 yards per carry. He is the first Eagle to ever surpass the 2,000 yard rushing mark and set the school record for most yards rushed in a game with 339 yards against North Carolina State. Williams accounted for 51% of BC’s offense this season and has the most rushing yards in all of Division I College Football for the 2013 season.

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The top 10 Heisman moments of 2013

jameis winston

With the six finalists named and Heisman week upon us, it’s time to look back at how we got here.

There were a lot of twists and turns in this year’s race. Here are the 10 most important Heisman moments of 2013:

#10 — Teddy Bridgewater and Louisville upset by UCF

A hot start helped Bridgewater jump to the top of the Sept. 10 edition of the HeismanPundit Straw Poll, but the Cardinals blew a 28-7 third quarter lead against UCF and lost, 38-35, in mid-October. With Louisville’s weak schedule, Bridgewater could not afford a loss and, despite a stellar season, his candidacy never recovered from this upset.

#9 — Bryce Petty and Baylor get crushed by Oklahoma State

It was all there for the taking for Baylor and its star quarterback, Bryce Petty. A possible BCS title berth. A Heisman Trophy. All the Bears had to do was beat Oklahoma State in Stillwater for the first time since 1939. The late-November showdown was cold and dreary and not amenable to the Baylor offense, which produced its worst showing of the season in a 49-17 drubbing. The general drop-off by Petty in November was accentuated by his out-of-this-world September and October, which probably set expectations too high for Heisman observers.

#8 — Jordan Lynch sets the NCAA quarterback rushing record…twice

Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch was the only player to rush for over 300 yards twice this season. Each time, he broke the NCAA record for rushing yards in a game by a quarterback. His last time was a 321-yard effort against Western Michigan that probably assured he would become a Heisman finalist and, potentially, log the highest non-BCS-conference Heisman finish of the BCS era.

#7 — Andre Williams tops the 2,000-yard rushing mark

One week after rolling for an FBS-season-best 339 yards against North Carolina State, Boston College running back Andre Williams became the 16th player to top the 2,000-yard rushing mark by rushing for 263 yards against Maryland. One week later, he became the ninth player to surpass 2,100 rushing yards. The feat propelled him into the thick of the Heisman race, but a shoulder injury in his final game against Syracuse sapped whatever late-season momentum he had.

#6 — Tre Mason rolls for 304 yards and four touchdowns against Missouri in SEC title game

Tre Mason vaulted himself to New York as a Heisman finalist on the strength of his 46-carry, 304-yard, 4-touchdown performance in Auburn’s 59-42 victory over Missouri in the SEC title game. With one fell swoop, he overcame a season’s-worth of relative anonymity to become a late-breaking Heisman candidate. Doesn’t happen like that very often.

#5 — Johnny Manziel launches furious comeback against No. 1 Alabama

The most anticipated matchup of the early part of the season saw the defending Heisman winner rip the vaunted Alabama defense for 562 total yards and five touchdowns. Manziel led his team to 21 fourth quarter points, including a 95-yard touchdown pass to receiver Mike Evans. It wasn’t enough. Alabama won, 49-42. But Johnny Football showed he was back…and better than ever.

#4 – Winston inserts himself into the upper echelon of candidates as Florida State obliterates Clemson

Jameis Winston threw for 444 yards and three touchdowns as No. 5 Florida State destroyed No. 3 Clemson, 51-14. This game established Winston as a legitimate Heisman candidate and moved him into second in the HeismanPundit Straw Poll. He wouldn’t stay there very long.

#3 — Braxton  Miller hurts knee, misses almost three full games

Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller was the front runner for the Heisman heading into the season, but he hurt his knee in week two during the first series of the Buckeyes’ game against San Diego State and was forced to sit out the next two contests. No Heisman winner has ever missed that many games, so Miller was basically done as a serious candidate. His late-season production showed the potential of his candidacy, however, and it’s likely that if he had stayed healthy all season, his name would be the one announced on the podium in New York on Saturday.

#2 — Marcus Mariota drops the ball against Stanford

Marcus Mariota of Oregon was the front runner in the race from mid-October until early November. His numbers were extraordinary and, following good performances against ranked UCLA and Washington teams, he looked capable of running away with the Heisman. All he had to do was get by nemesis Stanford — which owned a victory over the Ducks from the prior season — and he’d be home free. The Thursday night matchup of top five teams quickly turned into a nightmare for Mariota and his team. Oregon fell behind 26-0 and Mariota looked shaky, at one point fumbling the ball away in Stanford territory. He led a furious rally to make the score respectable but the damage was done. The Ducks never really recovered psychologically from that loss and they dropped another game in embarrassing fashion to Arizona two weeks later. Despite his stellar numbers, Mariota — who was playing with a sprained knee, as it turns out — dropped off the Heisman radar.

#1 — Willie Meggs decides not to press charges against Jameis Winston

The news that Jameis Winston was under investigation for an alleged rape came out on Nov. 13 and, for the next three weeks, the race was in a state of limbo. Some Heisman voters recoiled at the idea of voting for a player who might be charged with rape. Others wanted to wait to see if more information came out before making a decision. Still others gave him the benefit of the doubt and defended Winston’s right to be presumed innocent. Looming over everything was the seriousness of a matter involving the lives of two young adults, which made the whole business of the Heisman seem rather trivial by comparison. Nonetheless, if Winston had been charged, or if the the matter was not adequately resolved before Heisman ballots were due, we would today be looking at a radically different Heisman race and, potentially, a nightmare of a Heisman ceremony. Instead, Florida State Attorney Willie Meggs held a press conference on Dec. 5 announcing that Winston would not be charged with a crime. Among the byproducts of that decision was that it cleared the way for voters to pick Winston without the stench of controversy hanging over their decision. As a result, he’s on his way to a landslide victory on Saturday.


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Six for New York


The finalists have been announced for the 2013 Heisman ceremony.

As told to us by 1996 Heisman winner Danny Wuerffel of Florida, they are:

Jameis Winston

Johnny Manziel

AJ McCarron

Tre Mason

Andre Williams

Jordan Lynch

This is the first time since 1994 — and only the second time in Heisman history — that six finalists have been invited to New York for the Heisman ceremony.

Congrats to the six finalists!

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Jameis Winston tops final 2013 HeismanPundit Heisman Straw Poll

For the second year in a row, a redshirt freshman has topped the college football season’s final Heisman Straw Poll.

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston collected seven out of 10 possible first-place votes and totaled 23 points from the weekly survey of Heisman voters, putting him on the verge of becoming a landslide winner of the most prestigious trophy in sports.

The result comes just five days after Florida state authorities decided against charging Winston for felony sexual assault and two days after the freshman led the Seminoles to a 45-7 victory over Duke in the ACC title game to complete an undefeated regular season.

To get to this point, Winston set NCAA freshman records this season for passing yards (3,820) and passing touchdowns (38) and produced a passer rating of 190.06, just below the all-time efficiency mark of 191.78 held by Russell Wilson of Wisconsin. If, as the poll predicts, Winston goes on to win the Heisman, he’ll do so with the highest passer rating in the trophy’s history.

He will be the third Florida State player to win the Heisman and first since Chris Weinke did so in 2000, which was also the last time the Seminoles made it to the BCS national title game. He’s also set to be the youngest player to win the trophy, beating out Alabama’s Mark Ingram by 14 days.

“He’s been spectacular all season,” said one voter. “Florida State has been a juggernaut on offense and he’s the main reason for it. No other candidate has been as consistent as he has been.”

The lack of consistency by other candidates in the race is reflected in the poll’s results, which includes a HeismanPundit Straw Poll-record 12 players in the final balloting, topping the 11 selected in 2009′s final poll (when Mark Ingram defeated Toby Gerhart by the closest vote in Heisman history).

If this year’s poll is correct, Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch will take second in the race and claim the highest Heisman finish by a non-BCS-conference player in the BCS era. Lynch grabbed two first-place votes to finish with eight points, well behind Winston’s total.

Defending winner Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M and running back Tre Mason of Auburn tied for third, as Mason picked up the last first-place vote.

Alabama’s AJ McCarron was fifth with six points.

Now in its eighth season, the Heisman Straw Poll is the college football world’s most trusted gauge of Heisman voter sentiment. It has been the most accurate Heisman poll in the country during the past seven seasons, with the final 2012 poll correctly picking the top five finishers and the final 2011 poll picking the top seven. This year’s poll is made up of 10 anonymous Heisman voters from across the country. Each week during the season they picked three players. Tabulations for the preseason poll are tabulated like a real Heisman ballot, with three points awarded for a first-place vote, two points for a second-place vote and one point for a third-place vote.

Each week’s poll was released on Tuesdays throughout the season at Heisman votes are due on Monday, Dec. 9 at 5 p.m ET. The finalists for the 2013 Heisman Trophy ceremony will be announced at 6 p.m. on Dec. 9 and the trophy will be awarded on Saturday, Dec. 14.

The Heisman Straw Poll, 12/9/2013

Total Points (with first place votes in parentheses)

1. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State — 23 (7)

2. Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois — 8 (2)

3. (tie) Tre Mason, RB, Auburn — 7 (1)

Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M — 7

5. AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama — 6

6. (tie) Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon — 2

Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State — 2

8. (tie) Andre Williams, RB, Boston College — 1

Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor — 1

Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville — 1

Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford — 1

Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh — 1

Number of ballots
Winston — 8
Lynch — 4
McCarron — 4
Manziel — 4
Mason — 3

Everyone else — 1

Past 2013 Poll Leaders

Preseason, Johnny Manziel
Sept. 3, Tajh Boyd
Sept. 10, Teddy Bridgewater
Sept. 17, Johnny Manziel
Sept. 24, Johnny Manziel
Oct. 1, Johnny Manziel
Oct. 8, Johnny Manziel
Oct. 15, Marcus Mariota
Oct. 22, Marcus Mariota
Oct. 29, Marcus Mariota
Nov. 5, Marcus Mariota
Nov. 12, Jameis Winston
Nov. 19, Jameis Winston
Nov. 26, Jameis Winston
Dec. 3, Jameis Winston

The Last Six Years of the Straw Poll

Final 2012 HP Poll
1. Johnny Manziel
2. Manti Te’o
3. Collin Klein
4. (tie) Marqise Lee
4. (tie) Braxton Miller
6. Kenjon Barner

Final 2011 HP Poll
1. Robert Griffin III
2. Andrew Luck
3. Trent Richardson
4. Montee Ball
5. Tyrann Mathieu
6. Matt Barkley
7. Case Keenum

Final 2010 HP Poll
1. Cameron Newton
2. Andrew Luck
3. (tie) LaMichael James
3. (tie) Kellen Moore
5. Justin Blackmon
6. Denard Robinson

Final 2009 HP Poll
1. Mark Ingram
2. Toby Gerhart
3. Colt McCoy
4. Ndamukong Suh
5. Kellen Moore
6. Tim Tebow

Final 2008 HP Poll
1. Sam Bradford
2. Tim Tebow
3. Colt McCoy
4. Graham Harrell
5. Michael Crabtree
6. Shon Greene

Final 2007 HP Poll
1. Tim Tebow
2. Darren McFadden
3. Colt Brennan
4. Chase Daniel
5. Pat White
6. Dennis Dixon

2012 Actual Results
1. Johnny Manziel
2. Manti Te’o
3. Collin Klein
4. Marqise Lee
5. Braxton Miller

2011 Actual Results
1. Robert Griffin III
2. Andrew Luck
3. Trent Richardson
4. Montee Ball
5. Tyrann Mathieu
6. Matt Barkley
7. Case Keenum

2010 Actual Results
1. Cam Newton
2. Andrew Luck
3. LaMichael James
4. Kellen Moore
5. Justin Blackon
6. Denard Robinson

2009 Actual Results
1. Mark Ingram
2. Toby Gerhart
3. Colt McCoy
4. Ndamukong Suh
5. Tim Tebow
6. C.J. Spiller

2008 Actual Results
1. Sam Bradford
2. Colt McCoy
3. Tim Tebow
4. Graham Harrell
5. Michael Crabtree
6. Shon Greene

2007 Actual Results
1. Tim Tebow
2. Darren McFadden
3. Colt Brennan
4. Chase Daniel
5. Dennis Dixon
6. Pat White

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The race for place

The big question in this year’s Heisman race is: Who will finish second?

Voters obviously give great care to who they put in the first spot on their ballots. They tend to be less predictable and maybe a little more frivolous with the 2nd and 3rd spots. With no consensus counterbalance to Jameis Winston’s candidacy, there’s no telling who could end up there.

I believe that the following players stand the best chance of finishing second:

Braxton Miller
Andre Williams
Jordan Lynch
AJ McCarron
Johnny Manziel
Tre Mason

McCarron, Manziel and Miller have excellent name recognition and could claim the two spot thanks to the sheer volume of ballots on which they may appear.

If Lynch or Williams get there, it will be due to the intensity of support for them in their home region.

I’m a bit skeptical of Mason’s chances, but he could catch a late wave based on his 304 yard performance against Missouri in the SEC title game.

We’ll know who the Heisman finalists are on Monday at 6 p.m. ET.

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