Heisman vs. Gators: UF will face at least 9 candidates this season

Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford is sacked by Florida linebacker Brandon Hicks during the first quarter of the BCS National Championship game in Miami on Jan. 8, 2009. [The Lakeland Ledger/Pierre DuCharme]

[Edited] Florida has faced plenty of Heisman Trophy winners in the past and there is a chance it will again this year.

There are nine players on the UF schedule who are on the betting board as having odds to win the coveted award, according to the latest Vegas numbers, with Georgia’s Jake Fromm at the top of the list of players on teams we know Florida will face. The others Cam Akers (FSU), Deondre Francois (FSU), D’Andre Swift (Georgia), Drew Lock (Missouri), Nick Fitzgerald (Miss State), Jake Bentley (South Carolina), Benny Snell (Kentucky) and Deebo Samuel (South Carolina).

In the history of Florida football, the Gators have played 14 players who went on to win the Heisman that season or won it before facing Florida in a bowl game.

Florida is 4-10 in those games. The good news is that the Gators beat four Heisman winners, two of them to win national titles. The bad news is that some of those players used the Florida game as launching points to win the award.

Of course, Florida has three Heisman winners of its own, but that’s a different story.

Here is how Florida fared against players who won the Heisman that year:

1942, Frankie Sinkwich, Georgia

Score: 75-0, Georgia.

What happened: UF had lost most of its upperclassmen to the war effort and it showed, as Georgia recorded the most lopsided win in the history of the series. Sinkwich was 5-of-9 passing with two touchdowns and ran for 71 yards and scored twice.

1959, Billy Cannon, LSU

Score: 9-0, LSU

What happened: Cannon did it all, running for 59 yards and the only touchdown of the game and returning punts and kickoffs while also punting. He had 114 return yards in the game. It was in the next game when he won the Heisman with his famous 89-yard punt return against Ole Miss.

1971, Pat Sullivan, Auburn

Score: 40-7, Auburn

What happened: Sullivan went 15-of-30 for 241 yards. He threw two touchdowns and was intercepted once. It was two games later that he threw four TD passes against Georgia, which was his Heisman moment.

1982, Herschel Walker, Georgia

Score: 44-0, Georgia.

What happened: Walker owned the Gators during his three years, but the first two games came down to the wire. Not so much in this game. He finished with 221 yards rushing on 35 carries, scoring the first two touchdowns of the game.

1985, Bo Jackson, Auburn

Score: 14-10, Florida

What happened: Jackson suffered a bruised thigh and only rushed 48 yards on 16 carries before leaving the game. The following day, Florida moved up to No. 1 in the nation for the first time ever.

1986, Vinny Testaverde, Miami

Score: 23-15, Miami

What happened: Florida’s defense held Testaverde in check, limiting him to 12-of-25 passing and picking him off three times. Alas, it wasn’t enough.

1993, Charlie Ward, FSU

Score: 33-21, FSU

What happened: In one of the loudest games ever in The Swamp, Ward’s short pass to Warrick Dunn went the distance to clinch the game. He finished 38-of-53 for 446 yards and four TDs with two interceptions.

2000, Chris Weinke, FSU

Score: 30-7, FSU

What happened: Florida had no answer on offense in Tallahassee and Weinke was 23-of-44 for 353 yards. He threw three touchdowns, but the Gators did pick him off twice.

2006, Troy Smith, Ohio State

Score: 41-14, Florida

What happened: The Gator defense was awesome in the national title game, limiting Smith to 4-of-14 passing for 55 yards and sacking him for 29 yards in the game. He threw for no scores and was picked off once. Might have been the banquet circuit jinx.

2008, Sam Bradford, Oklahoma

Score: 24-14, Florida

What happened: Another national title game, another Heisman winner and another win for the Gator defense. Bradford was 26-of-41 for 256 yards and threw two touchdown passes but he also threw two interceptions, the most memorable being Ahmad Black’s in the fourth quarter.

2009, Mark Ingram, Alabama

Score: 32-13, Alabama

What happened: This was most likely the game that secured Alabama’s first Heisman Trophy. Ingram was a workhorse rushing 28 times for 113 yards and three touchdowns in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.

2012, Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

Score: 20-17, Florida

What happened: This was A&M’s first SEC game and Manziel’s first for the Aggies. He was 23-of-30 for 173 yards and ran for 60 yards and a touchdown, but Florida prevailed. He went on to become the first redshirt freshman to win the award.

2013, Jameis Winston, FSU

Score: 37-7, Florida State

What happened: Florida was a depleted team by the time the Gators faced Winston, losing the previous week to Georgia Southern. Winston was 19-of-31 for three scores and was intercepted once.

2015, Derrick Henry, Alabama

Score: 29-15, Alabama

What happened: In the SEC title game, Florida hung in there but Henry just kept pounding. He rushed 44 times for 189 yards and a touchdown in Alabama’s win.

Editor’s Note: Dooley got carried away with all the SEC guys receiving odds. Florida is facing nine players who have received Vegas odds to win the Heisman and not 10.


  1. Well, don’t know what I learned here except the feeling that all is lost, but what the hell, it was an interesting article save for the timing. Then again, all is not lost — not by a long shot — and we’re just getting started! In the words of the immortal GatorGI — Just do it! Go Gators….

    • We learned that we have a losing record against Heisman winners. I’m sure we played many candidates that didn’t win in those years. That said if we lose against the winner we could still have a great year. Assuming there isn’t a10 way tie.

  2. I like these trips down memory lane, though I watched a bunch of those brutal losses. Still, this is a good column and I appreciate the research. This year we will ruin a lot of Heisman phonies’ chances. Count on it!

  3. Still remember that 1993 game, the very first against fsu as an ACC opponent. When Ward threw that pass on third down, fsu WR Tamarick Vannover clearly clipped the UF defender in the back to open the play for Dunn to score. The ACC ref actually looked like he was reaching for his flag and then thought better of it. I still remember hundreds of Gators around me in the North Endzone screaming for the clipping flag as Dunn arrived in the opposite end zone.

    It was the start of numerous games with ACC officials protecting their precious criminoles (1999 game also comes to mind), until the Swindle In The Swamp in 2003 not only ended visiting ACC officials in The Swamp, but also caused the NCAA to begin using instant replay.

    But it’s always something fsu is starting, isn’t it?

    – Deion Rules…
    – Sports agent investigations division at the NCAA…
    – Instant Replay.

    • I was also in the north end zone that day. As that play began, and the crowd tools it’s noise level to a previously unreached decibel level, I turned to the stranger standing (no one was sitting at that point) next to me, an FSU fan, and saw a mirror of the combo of excitement and ear pain everyone felt. The rush almost got Ward and then…I didn’t see the clip. I just knew that there was no way the Gator D, which played phenomenally in the second half, would have misplayed that so badly without “assistance.” Most crushing loss I witnessed, because they came back so strong and were setting themselves up for a game-winning drive. Still…one of my weirdly favorite memories

  4. Pat, you should’ve listed the 10 candidates you had in mind.

    I’d say Fromm is NOT on that list. He may be on a Heisman watch list but I don’t think he has a prayer. Drew Lock at Mizzou could definitely be a candidate. Nick Fitzgerald at Miss St will be a candidate if his leg holds out after recovering from that awful injury. I’m not sure who else on UF’s schedule makes me think “Heisman.”

    On the local front, if the offense improves as much as we’re all hoping for and the OL steps up, I could see Jordan Scarlett being a Heisman Hopeful. Lack of carries might be the only thing that holds him back.