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August 29, 2011
Nearly three decades have passed since a Heisman runner-up came back to eventually win college football's most prestigious individual award.
That was Georgia's Herschel Walker in 1982,who was runner-up to USC's Marcus Allen in 1981. To find another player who won the Heisman the year after finishing second requires a longer look back, to 1968, when USC's O.J. Simpson won it after finishing as the runner-up in 1967.
Indeed, the only other players to win the Heisman the year after they finished as runners-up were Army's Glenn Davis in 1946 and Michigan's Tom Harmon in 1940.
That could be a source of concern for Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, last year's runner-up to Auburn's Cam Newton. That is, if Luck was concerned about the Heisman at all. Although Luck is considered the leading candidate to win the trophy, he's tried to avoid all conversation about the subject.
"When you're the quarterback of one of the top teams in the country, that's going to come with the territory," Luck told reporters over the summer. "There are so many great players out there. It's not something I'm going to give a lot of thought to."
He's trying to join Jim Plunkett (1970) as a Stanford Heisman winner. And while Luck has history going against him this year, he has a lot more going for him. He's intelligent, strong-armed and mobile, and he has great leadership skills. What else does one want from a quarterback? Oh, yeah, production and wins. Luck has provided that, too.
Stanford had endured seven consecutive losing seasons until Luck took over as the starting quarterback two years ago. Stanford has gone 20-5 in the past two seasons with Luck as the starter.
Last season, he passed for 3,338 yards and 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions in leading Stanford to a 12-1 record and a No. 4 national ranking, the Cardinal's highest finish since 1940.
Should Luck play as well this season as he did in 2010, the Cardinal could finish higher in the polls. And Luck could finish higher in the Heisman voting.