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A History of Heisman Underdog Winners

December 8, 2022
Crouch was an underdog who won the Heisman trophy

The Heisman Trophy is the top official NCAA award given to the best player in college football. Former Heisman Trophy winners along with important members of the media and coaches vote to establish the winner of this award. See more about who votes and how they vote here

Below is a list of the biggest underdogs to ever win the Heisman Trophy.

2001: Eric Crouch, Nebraska

The Cornhuskers were still in dynasty mode at this point. Crouch ran the Huskers triple-option offense to perfection. However, Nebraska got smoked by Colorado late in the season and then took a solid whoopin’ from Miami in the BCS national championship game. That game came after Crouch won the Heisman defeating Florida QB Rex Grossman and Miami QB Ken Dorsey. 


2009: Mark Ingram, Alabama

In 2009, Texas QB Colt McCoy was the odds-on favorite to capture the Heisman. His Longhorns won the Big 12, but he threw three picks in a tight season-ending win over Nebraska. At the same time, Ingram collected 189 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns in a win over Florida in the SEC title game. Ingram went on to win the award and a few weeks later his Crimson Tide beat McCoy’s Longhorns for the national championship.

Heisman trophy underdog winners


2011: Robert Griffin III, Baylor

Stanford QB Andrew Luck and Alabama RB Trent Richardson were the favorites to win the Heisman in 2011. When Alabama lost to LSU and Oregon beat Stanford, the Heisman picture started to blur. RGII and Baylor was just 4-3 at the time, but Griffin would lead the Bears to five straight wins, including one over fifth-ranked Oklahoma. In the process, Griffin threw for 1,623 yards, ran for 322 more, and totaled 19 touchdowns…in five games. That vaulted Griffin to the top of the Heisman heap and he pulled the upset.


2018: Kyler Murray, Oklahoma

Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield had won the Heisman in 2017. Murray took over what was a juggernaut of an offense. Still, he was not a favorite to win the award in 2018. The favorite title belonged to Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa. Unfortunately, Tua went 10-for-25 for 164 yards and two picks in the SEC title game. He ended up leaving the game after getting hurt. Murray’s stats were outstanding and he led his Sooners to a revenge win over rival Texas. In that game, Murray threw for 379 yards, ran for 39, and threw three touchdown passes. It was enough for him to move past Tagovailoa and capture the 2018 Heisman Trophy:

See List of Heisman Winners Here