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5 Biggest Landslides in Heisman Trophy Voting History

Joe Burrow set a new standard for Heisman runaway winners in 2019.
5 Biggest Landslides in Heisman Trophy Voting History

In 2019, Joe Burrow was nearly 1,900 points clear of runner-up Jalen Hurts in the Heisman voting. 

There really is no clearcut leader in this year’s Heisman Trophy race. Who will win the all-quarterback quartet of USC's Caleb Williams, Ohio State's C.J. Stroud, TCU's Max Duggan and Georgia's Stetson Bennet is anyone’s guess. One thing is for certain. This year will not see one of the biggest landslides in Heisman Trophy history.

Related: 5 Closest Outcomes in Heisman Trophy Voting History

To help understand why, here are the five biggest voting landslides in Heisman history. As you will see below, to make this list, the recipient needs to win by at least 1,600 points.

NOTE: Ohio State running back Archie Griffin, the Heisman Trophy winner in 1974 and ’75 is the only player to win the award twice and each time he was clear of the runner-up by more than 1,100 votes.

5. Desmond Howard, WR/PR, Michigan, 1991 — 1,574 Points

As his team was spanking Ohio State, Howard returned a punt 93 yards for a touchdown and did the Heisman pose in the end zone. He would have looked like a first-rate boob if he had not actually won the stiff-armed trophy, but like a good politician, he knew he had the votes. Howard led the nation in touchdown receptions and finished with 23 total scores (19 receiving, 2 rushing, 1 kickoff return and 1 punt return). He received 640 first-place votes and a total of 2,077 points, which were 1,574 more than Florida State quarterback Casey Weldon, who came in second.

4. Charlie Ward, QB, Florida State, 1993 — 1,622 Points

Ward was ahead of his time in many ways. If he played in the NFL today, the dual-threat quarterback would likely be mentioned in the same breath as Russell Wilson and Cam Newton. In 1993, Ward’s options for pro football were limited and he chose to play point guard for 10 seasons in the NBA instead. However, in college football, he was sensational. Ward powered Florida State’s fast-break offense, which averaged 43 points a game, and led the team to the school’s first national title. He garnered 740 first-place votes for a total of 2,310 points. Tennessee quarterback Heath Shuler finished a distant second, with just 10 first-place votes and 1,622 points behind Ward.

3. Troy Smith, QB, Ohio State, 2006 — 1,662 Points

Ohio State was ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll and held the top spot through the entire regular season. The Buckeyes won all but two of their regular-season games by double digits and their final one was a 42-39 victory over No. 2 Michigan in one of the most hyped contests in college football history. Ohio State had many weapons, but the heart and soul of the team was its quarterback. Smith threw for 30 touchdowns and only six interceptions and led the Big Ten in passing efficiency. Smith dominated the voting, picking up 801 first-place votes and a total of 2,540 points. Arkansas running back Darren McFadden finished second with 45 first-place votes and 878 points. That’s a difference of 1,662 points or nearly double McFadden’s total.

2. O.J. Simpson, RB, USC, 1968 — 1,750 Points

The second spot on this list belongs to someone who doesn’t even own his trophy anymore. After finishing second to UCLA quarterback Gary Beban in 1967, Simpson had an even better season in 1968. He blistered defenses by rushing for 1,880 yards and 23 touchdowns as USC won the Pac-10 and earned a trip to the Rose Bowl. Simpson received 855 first-place votes and 2,853 total points, 1,750 more than the runner-up, Purdue halfback Leroy Keyes. To put it another way, Keyes and the other eight players that received votes that year had a total of 147 first-place votes combined.

In 1997, a civil court jury ruled ordered Simpson to pay $33.5 million in damages to the families of murder victims Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. His assets, including his Heisman trophy, were seized and auctioned. In 1999, Triad Metals International owner Tom Kreissman purchased the trophy for $230,000 and a 15 percent sales commission. It now sits in a safety deposit box in a Philadelphia bank.

1. Joe Burrow, QB, LSU, 2019 — 1,846 Points

Burrow was the front-runner, but his 1,846-point margin over Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts was still surprising. In hindsight, it probably shouldn't have been. Burrow set SEC records for passing yards and touchdowns and he lived up to the award by leading his team to the national title.

— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.