clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

A look back at Ty Detmer's Heisman-winning campaign

Twenty-five years ago, former BYU quarterback Ty Detmer etched his name in the history books, and on a prestigious trophy.

The numbers Detmer achieved during his four-year college career in Provo still stand among the nation’s best, even though it’s been a quarter of a century since he won the coveted Heisman Trophy as a junior in 1990.

On Saturday, this year's Heisman Trophy winner will be announced, and it will go to one of three players: Alabama running back Derrick Henry, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson or Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey.

Here’s a look back at Detmer’s Heisman-winning season, in preparation for the 81st Heisman Trophy presentation, where Detmer will be recognized on his silver anniversary.

The win vs. Miami

While Detmer's campaign for college football's top individual honor started prior to the Cougars' home matchup against the Hurricanes, it received a Heisman-sized boost when BYU knocked off defending national champion Miami, which entered Cougar Stadium the No. 1 team in the country.

Detmer led the Cougars to the victory over the Hurricanes by completing 70 percent of his passes for 406 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Despite the Cougars turning over the ball five times in the game, BYU took a 28-21 lead in the third quarter on a Detmer-to-Mike Salido 7-yard pass, followed by a Cougar two-point conversion from Detmer to Andy Boyce.

From there, the Cougar defense twice stopped Miami drives into Cougar territory to hold on for the monumental win.

"I've never been in anything like that before," Detmer said of the postgame scene, according to the Deseret News archives. "I was just trying to high-five everybody. I took more hits going in (to the locker room) than I did the whole game."

A true 'passing' attack

During the 1990 regular season, Detmer threw for at least 300 yards in every game while throwing for 5,188 yards. That also included two games over 500 yards passing (514 vs. San Diego State, 560 vs. Utah State) and six more with more than 400 yards through the air, including the Miami victory. During a four-game stretch from the Miami game through a contest against Oregon the final week in September, Detmer threw for over 400 yards every week.

Detmer also had four games with five touchdown passes, including back-to-back victories over rivals Utah and Utah State en route to throwing for 41 touchdowns. Outside of the Cougars' season-opening win over UTEP, he threw for at least two touchdowns every game and had 14 touchdown passes in September, nine in October (in just two games), 15 in November and three in December.

If there was one black mark on Detmer's Heisman-winning year, it would be interceptions. He finished the year with 28.

Detmer also had a strong quarterback rating, finishing the year with a 155.89 rating. During a six-game winning streak from mid-October through the end of November, Detmer's QB rating always topped 150, and he had a season-high 208.09 rating against San Diego State in September.

Heisman voting

Detmer received 1,482 total points and 316 first-place votes to outpace second-place finisher Raghib Ismail, a wide receiver out of Notre Dame, by 305 votes in the 1990 Heisman voting. Rounding out the top five were Colorado running back Eric Bieniemy (798 votes), Virginia quarterback Shawn Moore (465) and Houston quarterback David Klingler (125).

Detmer received his highest amount of votes from the Far West region, where he had 267 votes. He also came in No. 1 in all six Heisman regions.

1990 Heisman votingCreate column charts

Stacking up vs. other Heisman winners

Detmer's 5,022 yards of total offense in 1990 still stand as the most put up by a Heisman winner the year they won the award. That outdistances several dual-threat quarterbacks who have taken the college nation by storm in recent years, including Baylor's Robert Griffin III, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and Oregon's Marcus Mariota.

His 5,188 passing yards that season also are the best by a Heisman winner — outdistancing second-place Andre Ware of Houston in 1989 by 489 yards — as is his 432.3 passing yards per game average in 1990. Not surprisingly, Detmer also holds the Heisman single-game record for passing yards, with 560 vs. Utah State.

Heisman records, statsCreate column chartsDetmer's 45 touchdowns in 1990, including four rushing scores, are sixth in a single season from Heisman winners, trailing only Oklahoma's Sam Bradford (53, 2008), Oregon's Marcus Mariota (53, 2014), Florida's Tim Tebow (51, 2007), Auburn's Cam Newton (49, 2010) and Houston's Ware (49, 1989).

Also, Detmer's 603 yards of total offense and 599 passing yards in 1991 at San Diego State stand as the most in a single game by a returning Heisman winner, and his 7.9 yards per play in 1990 is eighth all-time among Heisman winners in their trophy-winning season.

Where he is now

Detmer became the head football coach of St. Andrew's Episcopal School, a small private institution in southwest Austin, Texas, in December 2009, and this year he led the team to an 8-1 mark in his sixth season as coach. One of Detmer's first proteges, quarterback Preston Dewey, ended up signing with the University of Miami, though a back injury cut his football career short.

The next generation

Detmer's nephew, Koy Detmer Jr., is in his first season at BYU as a quarterback. He's completed all three of his pass attempts for 57 yards while serving as the team's third-string quarterback.

Another Utah connection has the chance to put up a Ty Detmer-like career at Washington State. Sophomore quarterback Luke Falk, a Logan native, has thrown for 4,266 yards, 36 touchdowns and eight interceptions this season and is on pace to pass Detmer in several NCAA career categories, including career passing yards and passing touchdowns. Detmer threw for 15,031 yards and 121 touchdowns in his career.

Email: bjudd@deseretdigital.com; Twitter: @brandonljudd