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Robert Griffin III wins the Heisman Trophy

The dual-threat quarterback becomes the first Baylor player to win the honor after leading the Bears to thrilling late-season wins over Oklahoma and Texas.

December 10, 2011|Chris Dufresne
  • Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III poses with the Heisman Trophy after it was announced he won the award on Saturday in New York.
Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III poses with the Heisman Trophy after… (Kelly Kline / Associated…)

Two years after Alabama claimed its first Heisman Trophy, Baylor finally bagged one of its own.

There's a first time for everything, even in Waco.

Robert Griffin III won the 77th Heisman Trophy on Saturday in New York.

The junior quarterback, who led Baylor to a 9-3 record this season, collected 405 first-place votes and 1,687 overall points to beat Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, who captured 247 first-place votes and 1,407 points.

"We're all amazed when great things happen," Griffin said on ESPN after winning the award.

"They might say it couldn't happen at Baylor, but that's why we play college football."

Alabama running back Trent Richardson finished third with 978 points, followed by Wisconsin running back Montee Ball and Louisiana State cornerback Tyrann Mathieu. USC quarterback Matt Barkley finished sixth.

Luck, who finished second last year behind Auburn's Cam Newton, took the defeat gracefully.

"I'm not going to lament on something I could have done," he said.

"It's well-deserving for Robert."

Luck completed 70% of his passes for 3,170 yards and 35 touchdowns in leading Stanford to an 11-1 record and a berth in this year's Fiesta Bowl. Luck is only the fourth player to finish second in consecutive years, and Stanford is the first school with three-straight second-place finishes. Luck sought to become Stanford's first Heisman winner since Jim Plunkett in 1970.

Griffin played on a three-loss team but had better overall numbers than Luck. Griffin passed for 3,998 yards and 36 touchdowns and also rushed for 644. Griffin's passer rating of 192.31 shattered the NCAA record, and he led Baylor to its first nine-win season since 1986.

Don Trull, who finished fourth in 1963, had been Baylor's highest-placed Heisman finisher.

Luck is expected to be the first player taken in April's NFL draft. The Heisman results should have no bearing on his pro potential. NFL passing greats who didn't win the coveted award include Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Brett Favre, Troy Aikman, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Steve Young, Bart Starr and Dan Marino.

Many Heisman-winning quarterbacks, however, have not fared well in the NFL: Matt Leinart, Eric Crouch, Jason White, Chris Weinke, Ty Detmer, John Huarte, Pat Sullivan, Steve Spurrier, Doug Flutie, Gino Torretta and Gary Beban.

Richardson was trying to become Alabama's second Heisman Trophy winner after Mark Ingram, who edged out Stanford running back Toby Gerhart two years ago.

Richardson rushed for 1,583 yards this season with 20 touchdowns and helped lead Alabama to a spot in this year's BCS title game against LSU on Jan. 9.

Ball is Wisconsin's first Heisman finalist since 1999, when running back Ron Dayne won the trophy. Ball led major colleges with 1,759 yards, and his 38 total touchdowns are one shy of Barry Sanders' record of 39.

Ball will have a chance to break Sanders' record when Wisconsin faces Oregon in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 2.

Mathieu, a cornerback and kick return specialist, leads LSU in tackles with 70 and has recovered five fumbles this season. His kick returns for scores led comeback wins against Arkansas and Georgia.

"It's just about trying to shift the momentum," Mathieu said.

Mathieu was attempting to become the first defensive back to win the award since Charles Woodson in 1997.

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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