On Dec. 29 the wildly impressive Robert Griffin III will bring his newly-won Heisman Trophy to San Antonio to lead his Baylor Bears in the Alamo Bowl against the Washington Huskies.
While Griffin’s Heisman win was unexpected—at least at the start of the season—he was certainly deserving despite the three losses his team suffered.
For college football handicappers the trick is to figure out how Griffin is going to react to all the distractions that have become part of his life now. He has never, for example, appeared on Letterman leading up to a game before.
To get some insight into what could happen I thought I’d look back at how the last 10 winners have performed in their subsequent bowl appearances:
2010—Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
It was less than a year ago, so you probably remember that Newton won himself and his Tigers a National Championship on a field goal as time expired.
Newton was certainly solid, but not nearly as strong as he had shown he could be. He completed 20-of-34 passes for 265 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, and ran 22 times for 64 yards—a paltry 2.9 yards per carry.
2009—Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Ingram had a very good bowl game. His Tide crushed the Longhorns to win the National Championship, and Ingram had 116 yards rushing on just 22 carries and scored two touchdowns. For his efforts he was named the offensive MVP of the game.
Of note, this year’s Heisman finalist Trent Richardson had 109 yards and two scores as a true freshman in that game.
2008—Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
The newly-crowned Heisman winner had a chance to see how he measured up against the previous winner as Bradford led his Sooners into the National Championship Game against Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators.
Bradford was only mediocre in the game. He completed 26-of-41 passes for 256 yards and two touchdowns, but he was also picked off twice. The lackluster effort from the star was a big reason why Oklahoma lost to Florida, 24-14.
2007—Tim Tebow, QB, Florida
People who complained that Griffin didn’t deserve to win the Heisman because he lost three games obviously have a short memory, because it was only four years ago that we last saw a guy win the award at 9-3.
Tebow capped that season in the Capital One Bowl against Michigan in Lloyd Carr’s last game on the sidelines. Michigan had lost its last two regular-season games and four straight bowls, but the Wolverines pulled off the 41-35 win in a great game.
Tebow completed 17-of-33 for 154 yards and three touchdowns, and rushed for 57 more and another score. In other words, the loss wasn’t his fault.
2006— Troy Smith, QB, Ohio State
It was an incredible college career for Smith, but he surely wishes it had ended one game sooner.
His final game was the National Championship Game against Florida, and for Smith it was a complete disaster. He completed just 4-of-14 passes for a pathetic 35 yards, and added both an interception and a fumble to make things even worse. The Buckeyes were smoked by the Gators, with the final score of 41-14 being flattering for Ohio State.
2005—Reggie Bush, RB, USC
He has given back his Heisman now, but when he played in the Rose Bowl against Texas, he did it as the winner.
He had a solid game, with 279 all-purpose yards, made up of 82 on the ground, 95 through the air and 102 on kicks; he also scored once. He made a horrible decision to attempt a lateral, though, and that ended up as a turnover.
Texas won the game, and Bush was at best the third-best player on the field behind Heisman runner-up Vince Young and USC running back LenDale White.
2004—Matt Leinart, QB, USC
Leinart was at the helm of an incredible team, and he led them into the National Championship Game against undefeated Oklahoma. It was a surprisingly one-sided affair, with the Trojans rolling to a 55-19 win. Leinart was brilliant. He only completed 18-of-35 passes, but he made them count—he threw for 332 yards and five touchdowns.
2003—Jason White, QB, Oklahoma
White was yet another Heisman winner to lead his team into the National Championship Game, where they met LSU. The Tigers came out on top 21-14, and the blame for the loss had to fall squarely on the shoulders of White.
He connected on just 13-of-37 passes for 102 yards, and he threw two interceptions. The offensive line didn’t help him out much, though—he was sacked seven times.
2002—Carson Palmer, QB, USC
Palmer led the Trojans into the Rose Bowl to face Iowa. The Hawkeyes were the higher-ranked team, but it didn’t show on the field as USC rolled to a 38-17 win. Palmer was solid in the win, with 303 passing yards on 21-of-31 passing with a touchdown.
2001—Eric Crouch, QB, Nebraska
Crouch’s bowl game was a controversial one.
He led the Huskers into the National Championship against the stacked Miami Hurricanes despite the fact that Nebraska hadn’t won the Big 12 and was a controversial choice to play in the game.
Nebraska did little to prove they belonged—they lost, 37-14, and Crouch and the offense averaged 200 fewer yards than they had averaged all year. Crouch ran 22 times for 114 yards, but completed just 5-of-16 passes for 62 yards. It was the first game since September of 1999 that Crouch had not scored a TD in a game.
Doc Moseman is the owner of Doc’s Sports football picks Web site.
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