CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 21: Former NFL player Barry Sanders at the EA SPORTS Madden NFL 13 Pigskin Pro-Am Eve on June 21 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images for EA Sports)
As you've probably seen, this year's version of EA Sports NCAA Football contains a feature that allows you to take Heisman Trophy winners and place them on different teams. Find out what would happen if Tim Tebow wore Georgia Bulldogs' red. See what it would look like to put Ricky Williams in Oklahoma Sooners' cream and crimson.
At Syracuse, it's been a long time since anyone's hoisted a Heisman Trophy. We all know Ernie Davis did it in 1961. Since then, there have been a few close calls, namely Don McPherson in 1987 and Donovan McNabb in 1998. Walter Reyes received preseason Heisman hype before getting injured but other than that, a Syracuse Orange football player hasn't even sniffed anything close to Heisman potential.
The same thing goes for National Titles. We've got the one from 1959 but after that there's really only been one close call (1987) and otherwise nothing even close.
So that got me wondering...looking back, was there a season that Syracuse could have put itself in a position to win the National Title if it had that year's Heisman Trophy winner on the roster? Who would have made that difference that erased a couple wins and propelled a great team into an immortal team?
1987 seems like a cheat. We didn't lose any games and turning a tie (Pat Dye is and always will be a p***y) into a win seems easy. Plus, we had the No. 2 guy in Heisman voting already that year.
But how about 1988? The Syracuse football team went 10-2 and outscored their opponents 341-189. Their only blemishes were a 28-9 pasting by Ohio State and a 31-9 drubbing by West Virginia in Morgantown. Certainly tough games to win no matter who's involved.The team ended the year with a 23-10 win over LSU in the Hall of Fame Bowl. A solid season.
But if Heisman Trophy winner Barry Sanders played for Syracuse, could it have made the difference between 10-2 and 12-0?
The obvious cause for concern is that Syracuse was a hardcore, barely-legal option squad and Sanders wasn't exactly the kind of runner that worked under such constraints. That said, talent overrides system and the guy who was the workhorse behind an Oklahoma State offense that generated 584 points would probably be allowed to do as he pleased, especially with Todd Philcox and not Don McPherson behind center.
Syracuse' running game was a two-headed monster that year. Robert Drummond ran for 869 yards and nine touchdowns while Daryl Johnston ran for 719 yards and five touchdowns.also added 460 yards and five scores to a running game that totaled 2,177 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Sanders, meanwhile, rushed for 2,850 yards and 42 touchdowns that season all by himself.
Even the Cowboys lost with Sanders at running back so he was no sure thing. But you can't help but wonder what could have happened if he had traded in OSU orange for Syracuse orange in 1988. Who knows, maybe he would have even worn #44...
This post was sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 13. Check out the video for the game below.
EA SPORTS NCAA Football 13: "Tiger" (via EASPORTS)