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Posted on Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 10:20 a.m.

Charles Woodson's Heisman campaign among 5 best individual B1G performances in the past 50 years

By Nick Baumgardner


Former Michigan standout Charles Woodson had one of the best individual seasons by a Big Ten player in the past 50 years, an ESPN writer says.

Angela J. Cesere |

Charles Woodson's legendary 1997 season is already regarded as one of the finest individual campaigns in Michigan football history.

But, according to, it's also one of the best in Big Ten football history. Big Ten writer Brian Bennett rated Woodson's 1997 season as one of the five best individual performances by a Big Ten player over the past 50 years.

"He had eight interceptions even though teams steadfastly avoided throwing the ball to his side of the field," Bennett wrote. "He also compiled 500 yards and three touchdowns as a receiver and punt returner, including his memorable score against Ohio State.

"Woodson had to be special to beat out Peyton Manning for the Heisman that year, and he sure was."

Woodson's dominance as a defender, versatility as a wide receiver and electrifying punt return touchdown in the regular-season finale against Ohio State helped Michigan to an unbeaten 1997 campaign, and eventual national championship share after a Rose Bowl win over Washington State.

His eight interceptions in 1997 tied for the third-best individual performance in Michigan history. He finished his three-year career with 18 picks, second only to Tom Curtis' (1967-69) 25 interceptions.

The other four individual performances on Bennett's list were former Illinois linebacker Dick Butkus' 145-tackle 1963 campaign, ex-Ohio State running back Archie Griffin's 1,620-yard year in 1974, former Nebraska running back Mike Rozier's 2,148-yard rushing year in 1983 and Wisconsin running back Montee Ball's 39-touchdown performance in 2011.

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan sports for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.



Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 9:16 p.m.

What's the big deal? Woodson only has half as many heismanns as Archie.......LOL! Don't forget, Woodson winning the heismann probably caused Michigan to share the National championship with Nebraska. That evil Fulmer put Michigan way down the totem pole, with the coaches poll.


Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 9 p.m.

Step aside, Mike Rozier and Montee Ball. Denard's going to have one of those years this fall! Certainly, Charles Woodson's '97 year was incredible. Though he wasn't a player, I'll take the year that Bo had in '69 over any of those others for the long-lasting impact it had on Michigan and Big 10 history. We are still living in its shadows!! (may it last forever)


Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 6:47 p.m.

Gotta hand it to Montee Ball. He had a beast of a season last year. But Woodson's season is one of my favorite memories of all time. I'm so glad my older brother was a student at UM then and somehow snagged a second set of student tickets that I was able to use to go to most of the home games.


Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 6:35 p.m.

Because ESPN, and the BTNetwork are a joke and made a decision to include Nebraska's history prior to 2011 as its own. They actually had a vote and came to the conclusion it was a good idea. They do the same with Penn State prior to its joining. That is why Tom Osborne is a Big Ten icon and Ndamukong Suh is the most dominant defensive player of the Big Ten for the last ten years. Best games of the Big Ten also include Nebraska games from the 1990s... its just so ridiculous. To be totally honest, I did not know ESPN did this but BTN does it for certain. I went on their BTN Facebook page to mock them - and they stand by their call! I just can't imagine being in a committee that would think that was a good idea and can only guess those making the decision are all under 30 (IE clueless) and do not include veterans of the industry or respected elder statesmen because not a single person I have talked to that is older than 30 understands this policy and most, like me, think its a joke.


Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 5:22 p.m.

One could argue that Charles Woodson was the best College Football player ever.

Jason Walker

Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 4:53 p.m.

How can they count Rozier as part of the B1G as Nebraska was almost 30 years away from joining?


Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 5:22 p.m.

I was wondering the same thing.