USC Football: 8 times a Trojan almost won the Heisman Trophy

Dec 12, 2015; New York, NY, USA; Alabama running back Derrick Henry name appears on the Heisman Trophy during a press conference at the New York Marriott Marquis after winning the trophy during the 81st annual Heisman Trophy presentation. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 12, 2015; New York, NY, USA; Alabama running back Derrick Henry name appears on the Heisman Trophy during a press conference at the New York Marriott Marquis after winning the trophy during the 81st annual Heisman Trophy presentation. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /
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O.J. Simpson (1967)

John McKay’s second national title game in 1967 came on the back of a dominant run game led by All-American tackle Ron Yary blocking for All-American tailback O.J. Simpson.

Simpson, in his first year at USC, was the best player in the college football. His 1,415 rushing yards led the NCAA, and his 64-yard run against No. 1 UCLA at the Coliseum became the most iconic run in school history. A bonafide Heisman moment.

Yet, he finished second in a close vote behind senior Bruins quarterback Gary Beban, who had a meager 8-to-7 touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio. He ran for 11 scores, but was a goal line runner only averaging 1.6 yards per carry.

Simpson’s Heisman sub is rooted in the psyche of the voters. At the time, only three juniors had ever won the award. Roger Staubach was the most recent in 1963, when he was hardly challenged.

Senior bias was a result of voters looking ahead, while bestowing the honor as a makeshift career achievement. Beban, who valiantly carried UCLA for three years in the mid-1960s, was due recognition, while Simpson still had a season ahead of him to win it.

Oddly enough, they were right. The following year would be Simpson’s year. He won the 1968 Heisman with what was the most lopsided vote on record.

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