The Michigan vs. Ohio State series is regarded by many as college football's best rivalry. Discover which school leads...
- Written by Ed Staton
- Published: 22 May 2023
Ohio State is one of the most prestigious universities in college football history. With multiple championships, bowl wins, and an incredible number of All-Americans. The University's football program is also known for a great line of coaches that have graced the Ohio Stadium sidelines. But what sets OSU apart from other college football programs is the amazing group of Ohio State Heisman Winners. Ohio State has had a total of 7 winners of college football's top individual award, which is more than any other Big Ten school. Let us take a deeper dive into the amazing student-athletes who became Buckeye Heisman Trophy Winners.
Les Horvath QB, 1944
OSU's first Heisman Trophy winner, Les Horvath won the Heisman after leading Ohio State to an 8-0 record and national championship. He played quarterback, safety, punter, and kicker for Ohio State, making him a classic example of a "triple threat." His most impressive moment came when he led the Buckeyes to an 18-14 victory against the Fighting Irish, passing for 199 yards and two touchdowns. Horvath's athletic skill set saw him also excel in baseball and track, becoming an All-American in both sports. His No. 22 football jersey was retired by the University in 2001.
Vic Janowicz HB, 1950
Vic Janowicz became a Heisman winner during his junior year. He led the team in rushing, punting and kicking. Janowicz's most outstanding games were against Iowa and Michigan. Against Iowa, he ran for 146 yards and threw two touchdown passes. In the final minutes of the game, he intercepted the ball to secure a 27-13 win, making him the hero of the game. He also played a critical role in Ohio State's 9-3 "Snow Bowl" victory against Michigan, running 70 yards and kicking a field goal in blizzard-like conditions. He was also a standout in other sports, winning a baseball national championship at Ohio State. Janowicz's No. 31 jersey was retired by OSU in 2000.
Howard Cassady HB, 1955
Howard "Hopalong" Cassady was a legendary player for Ohio State. He led the team in rushing and receiving during his senior season and won the Heisman Trophy. His most significant moment came against Michigan when he ran for 146 yards and scored two touchdowns, leading Ohio State to a 17-0 win over their rivals.
While becoming the next Ohio State Heisman Trophy winner, Cassady was a versatile running back who rushed for 958 yards and scored 15 touchdowns. His quickness and agility made him a nightmare for opposing defenses. Following his college football career, Cassady was drafted by the Detroit Lions with the 3rd pick of the 1956 NFL Draft. Cassady's Lions won an NFL championship in 1957. The former Buckeye played eight NFL seasons. Cassady had his No. 40 jersey retired by OSU in 2000.
Archie Griffin HB, 1974 and 1975
Archie Griffin is one of the most legendary players in Ohio State football history and the only player to win the Heisman Trophy twice. He led Ohio State to four consecutive Big Ten titles and two Rose Bowl victories. His most iconic season came in 1975 when he rushed for over 1,500 yards and 4 touchdowns, leading Ohio State to an 11-1 record, their fourth consecutive Big Ten championship, and a victory in the Rose Bowl.
Archie Griffin is perhaps one of the most famous Ohio State football players of all time. He made history by becoming the only two-time winner and led Ohio State to four consecutive Rose Bowl games. Griffin was a consistent and reliable running back and played a key role in Ohio State's success in the 1970s. His iconic status in Ohio State history is reflected in the fact that the school named its student-athlete award after him. The University retired Griffin's No. 45 jersey in 1999.
Griffin was a first-round draft choice of the Cincinnati Bengals in the 1976 NFL Draft. As a Bengal, Griffin amassed more than 4,500 yards of total offense and scored 13 touchdowns in seven seasons.
Eddie George, TB, 1995
Eddie George had a remarkable 1995 senior season, rushing for 1,927 yards and 24 touchdowns. He led Ohio State to an 11-0 regular season and was awarded the Heisman Trophy. George played a critical role in Ohio State's remarkable offense that broke several school records, including scoring a record 475 points. His performance that season earned him the stiff-armed trophy, as well as the distinction of being drafted by the Houston Oilers in the first round of the NFL draft.
Following his college football success, George earned NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Honors and rushed for 10,441 yards and 68 TDs. The workhorse back also snagged 268 passes for 2,227 yards and 10 scores. George is a member of the Oilers/Titans Ring of Honor and the NFL franchise retired his No. 27 jersey. Ohio State retired his No. 27 jersey in 2001.
Troy Smith, QB, 2006
Troy Smith led the Ohio State Buckeyes to a Big Ten Championship and a perfect 12-0 regular season in his senior year. The Ohio State quarterback completed 203 passes for over 2,500 yards and 30 touchdowns, earning him Heisman Trophy winner status in a landslide victory. He was known for his outstanding performance against arch-rival Michigan, where he completed 29 of 41 passes for 316 yards and four touchdowns, leading Ohio State to a 42-39 dramatic win to close the regular season.
Smith later earned a spot in professional football with the Baltimore Ravens. He played four seasons with the Ravens, San Francisco 49ers and Pittsburgh Steelers. Ohio State retired Smith's No. 11 jersey in 2012 to honor his remarkable accomplishments as a Buckeye.