Oklahoma sophomore quarterback Sam Bradford took home the 2008 Heisman Trophy award Saturday night in New York, beating out Texas quarterback Colt McCoy and Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, denying Tebow the elusive repeat.
Bradford becomes the first Oklahoma player since 2003 (Jason White) to win the award and the school's fifth overall winner. Bradford will guide BCS No. 1 Oklahoma into the National Championship Game January 8 in Miami against runner-up Tim Tebow and BCS No. 2 Florida.
This will be only the second matchup in college football history to feature Heisman Trophy winners, the first being the 2005 Orange Bowl where 2004 winner Matt Leinart and USC defeated 2003 winner Jason White and Oklahoma for the BCS National Title.
Bradford, who leads the nation in touchdown passes with 48, received 1,726 points. Texas quarterback Colt McCoy was second with 1,604 and Tebow, who received the most first-place votes, was third with 1,575 points.
It was the closest margin between the top two since Nebraska's Eric Crouch edged Florida's Rex Grossman by 62 points in 2001. The only other time the gap between first and third was smaller was also 2001, when Miami's Ken Dorsey was 142 points behind Crouch.
The decision to name Bradford as the winner now puts even more pressure on the Sooners, whom have not won a BCS game since the 2000 Sugar Bowl where they won the national championship quarterbacked by Heisman runner-up Josh Heupel.
Even more so, the last four non-USC quarterbacks (Tebow, T. Smith, White, Crouch) to win the Heisman have not even won their bowl game, and three of the four played in the national title game.
The craziness surrounding the Big 12's whirlwind season, including the highly criticized non-invitation of Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell to the Heisman ceremony as well as Texas not being selected to play for the Big 12 conference championship along with the national title itself, has fueled the ire of many college football fans who have craved a playoff in favor of the much flawed BCS system.
Many believe that the eyes of the football world will be on Colt McCoy as he takes on Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. If he puts up a big performance and Bradford stumbles against Florida, it is the belief of many that there should be a split national championship, as there was in 2003 between USC (AP Champion) and LSU (BCS Champion).
The Big 12 South was the epicenter of college football this season, with both the national championship and Heisman chase turning weekly on games played by its three powerhouse teams: Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech.
McCoy was the early leader after leading the Longhorns to the No. 1 AP ranking with a victory against Oklahoma in October, winning 45-35 in Dallas. Texas Tech's Graham Harrell, who finished a distant fourth in Heisman voting, then moved to the forefront after he tossed a last-second, game-winning touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree to beat Texas a month later.
But Bradford closed strongest, leading his team to a string of blowout victories, highlighted by an NCAA record five straight 60-point performances, and a spot, albeit a controversial decision, in the BCS title game.
Now Bradford must prove his Heisman stock, the BCS decision and Oklahoma's place in history as they play in their fourth national championship game this decade and seek to deny the SEC its third straight title.