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College Sports: Good news for Oklahoma? A look at how recent Heisman Trophy winners have fared in semifinal, championship games

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Not too long ago, winning the Heisman Trophy was seen as a curse against national title hopes.

But in recent years, that trend has shifted in a way that could be favorable to Oklahoma and 2018 Heisman winner Kyler Murray.

Four of the last six Heisman Trophy winners who played in either the College Football Playoff or BCS National Championship Game have gone on to win it all. A fifth — Oregon’s Marcus Mariota — won a semifinal matchup before falling in the CFP title game.

Of the last six winners to compete for a ring, only Baker Mayfield failed to reach the final game of the college football season.

But before this run of success, there was a long drought of Heisman Trophy winners who also came away with the national title. Between 2000 and 2008, only USC’s Matt Leinart won the title game. During that span, Heisman winners went 1-6 in the BCS National Championship Game — including a pair of losses for Sooners quarterbacks Jason White (2003) and Sam Bradford (2008).

Year

Heisman winner (Team)

Win national championship?

2017

Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma)

No (Lost in CFP semifinal)

2015

Derrick Henry (Alabama)

Yes

2014

Marcus Mariota (Oregon)

No (Lost in CFP final)

2013

Jameis Winston (Florida State)

Yes

2010

Cam Newton (Auburn)

Yes

2009

Mark Ingram (Alabama)

Yes

2008

Sam Bradford (Oklahoma)

No (Lost BCS Championship Game)

2006

Troy Smith (Ohio State

No (Lost BCS Championship Game)

2005

Reggie Bush (USC)

No (Lost BCS Championship Game)

2004

Matt Leinart (USC)

Yes

2003

Jason White (Oklahoma)

No (Lost BCS Championship Game)

2001

Eric Crouch (Nebraska)

No (Lost BCS Championship Game)

2000

Chris Weinke (Florida State)

No (Lost BCS Championship Game)

With Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa coming in second place in this year’s Heisman race, would that give the Tide any extra motivation in the Orange Bowl? Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams suggested it wouldn’t have an impact.

“For me personally it won’t,” Williams said. “I can’t speak for everybody, the whole defense in general, but we never brought it up. We never talked about it. If (Murray) won the Heisman or if he didn’t win the Heisman we were still going to try to get after him, discourage him and just affect him.”

Another suspected factor in Heisman winners not having great success in national championship situations: The grueling press tour that precedes and follows the ceremony.

Murray admitted Thursday that the time between the Big 12 Championship Game and arriving in Miami for the Orange Bowl was a whirlwind. He partially blamed his illness from earlier in the week on his travel schedule in December.

“I was surprised I made it this long (without getting sick),” Murray said. “Flying, Oklahoma, Atlanta, New York, back home, going to Dallas, all this stuff. I actually hadn’t felt anything up until this point. I think for me, just trying to just be as healthy as possible come Saturday.”

Murray’s illness and physical fatigue are now in the rear-view mirror. Still ahead? The 2018 Orange Bowl, slated for a 7 p.m. (CT) kickoff Saturday.

“For me, I’m going to do my job regardless,” Williams said. “I don’t care if you’re a Heisman or not a Heisman. The Heisman is a trophy, just an accolade to me.”

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