Michigan Overall Record vs. Heisman Winners

Submitted by dankbrogoblue on August 11th, 2018 at 7:07 PM

There was a reddit post with little attention about how teams have fared against teams with a Heisman winner, and I unwittingly got myself into a lot of research by compiling our record in such games.

I haven't seen this research compiled anywhere else (only Michigan vs. OSU Heisman winners), so I'm posting it here for the submarine times. If anyone has additions/corrections, I'd be happy to update. This is mostly copied/pasted from the reddit post, with a few additions.


Against Heisman winners the year they won the Heisman Michigan is 5 - 13

Against teams that contained a current, future, or past Heisman winner as a significant contributor, Michigan is 19 - 24 - 2

Against teams with a current, future, or past Heisman winner enrolled at their school, Michigan is 21 - 26 - 3



Games compiled with * representing a year that a Heisman winner contributed to the team, but did not win the Heisman that year:

Michigan Vs. Heisman winners.jpg

Included the table here for continuity's sake, but you can see it with slightly less JPEG below, or follow this link: Michigan Vs. Heisman winners.jpg



Non-significant contributions (will fall under "enrolled" record):

-Troy Smith was not a significant contributor to '03* Ohio State (win for Michigan)

-'92* Ohio State - Eddie George only had 37 carries for that team. The game was a tie.

-'91* #1 Florida State - Charlie Ward only had 9 attempted passes for that team. Who cares about the game result :'D

-'84* against #1 Miami - Testaverde only had 34 attempts for that team. This was a win.

-'75 against #3 Oklahoma - Billy Sims only played in one game for that team. Michigan lost.


Other Notes/Interesting facts:

-I don't know why I did all of this

-Really don't like Archie Griffin

-Somehow Michigan avoided playing Wisconsin for all four years of '53 Heisman Winner Alan Ameche's career

-"Significant contributions" are hard to track pre-1970 so if someone offers an argument for any of those determinations at all I will update

-'55 and '56 victories over Army are a bit dubious, as Pete Dawkins would have been a freshman/sophomore. I  can't prove he contributed much to these teams. But who cares, we need W's.

-Are Michigan's victories over Nile Kinnick the reason we are cursed in Iowa City? Or is it the pink locker room?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

-Michigan's current streak of 10 years without playing a Heisman winner is the longest since the creation of the award in 1935


BONUS (including Michigan Heisman winners):

So, it's not really fair to count up Michigan's games against Heisman winners without considering that we have a few of those ourselves. The results here aren't super significant, since this includes games against potentially sub-par teams. Sub-par teams wouldn't be likely to be included in the list compiled for teams we played against with a Heisman winner--you can assume if the team has a Heisman winner on the roster, that they are at least somewhat competitive--whereas they would while Michigan is sporting a Heisman winner. However for fun, and better records:

In games Michigan played containing a Heisman winner the year they won the Heisman, Michigan is 34 - 16

Containing a current, future, or past Heisman winner as a significant contributor, Michigan is 83 - 40 - 4

In games with a Heisman winner enrolled at either school Michigan is 95 - 43 - 4


Michigan additions:

Heisman Year (Michigan's record):

'97 Woodson (12-0)

'91 Howard (10-2)

'40 Harmon (7-1)

Other years with Heisman winner as significant contributor:

'96 Woodson (8-4)

'95 Woodson (9-4)

'90 Howard (9-3)

'39 Harmon (6-2)

'38 Harmon (6-1-1)

Desmond Howard's 9 catches in the '89 season (10-2) are not seen as a significant contribution


Again, please let me know if you see any corrections to be made, and I will edit this.




August 11th, 2018 at 8:54 PM ^

Nice job!

One addition: Charles White had a 114 yards in the 1977 Rose Bowl as a freshman; per Wikipedia (here) UCS's starter and Heisman runner-up Ricky Bell was injured in the first quarter.

Also, the 1979 Rose Bowl needs a big SIGH for the phantom touchdown.


August 11th, 2018 at 9:32 PM ^

Ah good find! Alas the edit button hasn't made its way to the diaries yet, so I can't even edit out the part where I promise to edit. I will do it when the button appears for posterity.

On the subject of corrections, I also see that I had the 1951 OSU game in Columbus when it was in Ann Arbor.

Human Torpedo

August 11th, 2018 at 8:57 PM ^

Interesting enough, I don't think Bama has ever faced a Heisman in the postseason since Saban has been the coach. That would be a dandy of a matchup when that happens (if it's in the CFP)

Human Torpedo

August 11th, 2018 at 8:57 PM ^

Interesting enough, I don't think Bama has ever faced a Heisman in the postseason since Saban has been the coach. That would be a dandy of a matchup when that happens (if it's in the CFP)


August 12th, 2018 at 3:40 PM ^

Interesting, thanks for doing this.

Figure there's at least a little self-fulfillment in the 5 - 13 number. A big game against us would increase the likelihood of both his team winning and him getting the vote.


August 12th, 2018 at 6:16 PM ^

Interesting note, Michigan's record of 34-16 with a Heisman winner on the roster is a worse winning%(.68) than the programs all time winning% in the .77 range.

The Heisman has only been awarded since 1935, and Michigan won a lot of games before then.  Would be interesting to know the winning% since then.


August 12th, 2018 at 9:04 PM ^

Thanks for posting this.

Your list is missing Michigan's stats against the very first Heisman winner, Jay Berwanger from the University of Chicago. Michigan didn't play Chicago in 1935, Berwanger's Heisman year, but did play them in 1933 (a 28-0 Michigan victory) and 1934 (a 27-0 Chicago victory).

Berwanger was a significant contributor to the 1934 squad, and he gave Michigan's Gerald Ford a cut below his left eye in that game, resulting in a scar, according to an obituary. I'm not sure how much Berwanger contributed to the 1933 Chicago squad.

Ali G Bomaye

August 13th, 2018 at 10:46 AM ^

5-13 against Heisman winners seems pretty good. The Heisman places so much emphasis on team success that it's relatively rare for a player to win the Heisman with more than 1-2 team losses, so there's a selection bias strongly in favor of Heisman winners winning games.

Section 1.8

August 13th, 2018 at 11:58 AM ^

I actually saw the game in which South Carolina (with George Rogers) came to Ann Arbor.  I always remembered that game, and that Rogers played like a 9th grader playing against 6th graders.  He was an NFL back, wearing a collegiate uniform.  (And in fact, Rogers may have been 22 at the time.)

Rogers ran for like 140 yards, but it seemed like he ran for 240 (in a tight, defensive game).


August 15th, 2018 at 1:45 PM ^

I counted it as one loss.

My justification is you don't lose to a player, you lose to a team. So even though they had two players on the team, the data is considering teams with Heisman winners. As we all know, the quality of the team has a huge effect on a players' ability to win the Heisman even if it's not in the spirit of the award.


August 14th, 2018 at 10:54 AM ^

Sobering data.  Griffin and T. Smith paint a bleak picture, but I'm looking for M to create some new trends.  I'm grateful for our D which has buoyed our team recently. Hopefully the we can create a similar culture of excellence with our O!