Bowls and the Heisman: Looking at the Sooners' history vs. Heisman winners

OU will face Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 4. It won't be the Sooners' first bowl game against the most-recently named Heisman winner.
by Berry Tramel Published: December 10, 2012

1994: Colorado's Rashaan Salaam was not a Heisman favorite but won the trophy with a consistent season. Part of that was a four-touchdown, 161-yard (on 25 carries) game against the Sooners, in a 45-7 Buff rout.

1988: Barry Sanders put on a Heisman-worthy show every game that season. In Bedlam, Sanders carried 39 times for 215 yards and two TDs, but OU won 31-28.

1986: Vinny Testaverde became the runaway Heisman favorite even before October, passing Miami to a 28-16 victory. Testaverde completed 21 of 28 passes for 261 yards and four touchdowns in a 28-16 victory.

1983: Nebraska's Mike Rozier cemented his candidacy with a huge game in a 28-21 victory. Rozier carried 32 times for 205 yards and a touchdown.

1981: Southern Cal tailback Marcus Allen produced perhaps the greatest tailback season ever, pre-Barry Sanders, and his play against the Sooners was among his best games. In a 28-24 victory, Allen carried 39 times for 208 yards and two TDs.

1977: The Sooners contained Earl Campbell rather well, 124 yards on 23 carries and one TD, but Texas won 13-6.

1972: Wingback Johnny Rodgers felled the Sooners the year before in the Game of the Century, but in '72, OU won 17-14 and held Rodgers to five yards on four carries, plus three catches for 41 yards.

1956: Paul Hornung didn't win the Heisman for his play against OU. The Sooners won 40-0 at South Bend in late October, and Hornung completed eight of 13 passes with four interceptions.

1953: Johnny Lattner led Notre Dame to a 28-21 season-opening victory. Lattner had two interceptions, several monster punts and a variety of clutch runs and catches.

1946: Doc Blanchard won the 1945 Heisman for Army, and his teammate, Glenn Davis, won it in '46, but not necessarily because of his play in a 21-7 victory over the Sooners. Davis had an interception and two 12-yard receptions on a key TD drive.

OU Heisman winners in bowls

Of OU's five Heisman winners, only three played in a bowl game, and only Billy Sims won. Billy Vessels in 1952 and Steve Owens in 1969 ended their Heisman seasons in the Bedlam game:

1978: In OU's 31-24 Orange Bowl victory over Nebraska, Billy Sims rushed 134 yards on 25 carries, with two touchdowns.

2003: In a 21-14 loss to LSU in the Sugar Bowl national title game, an injured Jason White completed just 13 of 37 passes for 102 yards, two interceptions and no touchdowns.

2008: In a 24-14 loss to Florida in the national title game in Miami, Sam Bradford completed 26 of 41 passes for 256 yards, two TDs and two interceptions.

by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The...
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