USC’s Caleb Williams Is On His Way To Becoming 1st Double Heisman Winner, So Look Out Archie Griffin

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USC quarterback Caleb Williams might as well have performed his Heisman Trophy pose Saturday night.

In just the first half of his first game of the 2023 season, the reigning Heisman winner has already turned in a signature Heisman moment for a possible second consecutive trophy take. Only Ohio State’s Archie Griffin has won two of the trophies (1974 and ’75) given every December to the best college football player in the nation since 1935.

USC QB Caleb Williams won the Heisman Trophy on Dec. 10 in New York. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Getty Images)

Williams started his junior season with USC in late-season form, throwing four touchdown passes in No. 6 USC’s 56-28 win over San Jose State in front of 63,411 at the Coliseum in Los Angeles. He completed 18 of 25 passes for 278 yards. His wow moment came after he fumbled a shotgun snap in the second quarter, picked it up and threw a 76-yard touchdown to wide receiver Tahj Washington. The ball flew 50 yards in the air, and he hit Washington in stride.

Williams also threw touchdown passes of 13, 25 and 12 yards. But there is much more where that came from. Williams expressed dissatisfaction after the game.

Caleb Williams Left Game Wanting More

“I feel good walking off the field,” he said. “But there is a bit of frustration. In the first half, it just felt like we weren’t hitting on certain calibers that we’re going to hit on soon.”

That kind of attitude could help Williams land college football’s most coveted award. Eleven Heisman winners before him have had a chance to win a second trophy. Eleven failed, and Florida quarterback Tim Tebow missed twice in 2008 and ’09 after winning the trophy in 2007 as a sophomore.

USC (1-0) next plays on Saturday at home against Nevada (12:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network). Williams will get to show his prodigious wares on national television on Sept. 9 against Stanford (4:30 p.m., FOX) in “The Farewell Tour” of the Pac-12.

The league is down to four teams at the moment for the 2024 season after dramatic conference realignment in recent weeks. The Pac-12 could go off into the sunset with just the second ever two-time Heisman winner if Williams can pull it off.

USC Quarterback Led Nation In Passing Yards And TDs

Williams has a tough act to follow in himself. He led the nation in passing yards (4,537) and touchdowns (42) last season while rushing for 382 yards and 10 touchdowns. He finished fourth in passing efficiency at 168.5 (333-of-500) with five interceptions for the Trojans (11-3).

Griffin was in a similar situation. He gained 1,695 yards on 256 carries in 1974 for a 6.6-yard averaged and scored 12 touchdowns as the Buckeyes finished 10-2 and reached the Rose Bowl as Big Ten champions. Griffin dipped to 1,450 yards on 262 carries in 1975 for a 5.5 average and four touchdowns. But Ohio State finished the regular season at 11-0 and No. 1 with a second consecutive Big Ten title following a 21-14 win at No. 4 Michigan on ABC. Two weeks later, Griffin won his second Heisman.

Archie Griffin (right) with Ohio State head coach Woody Hayes in 1975. (Photo by Rich Clarkson/Getty Images)

Nationally televised games still help get Heisman votes. And Williams has a second nationally televised game scheduled at the moment at No. 13 Notre Dame (1-0) on Oct. 14 (1:30 p.m., NBC, Peacock).

What else could help Williams get an historic Heisman is a new target – true freshman wide receiver Zachariah Branch. A five-star prospect from Bishop Gorman High in Las Vegas, Branch was the No. 2 receiver in the nation and No. 7 overall prospect in the 2022-23 recruiting season.

New Target For Caleb Williams

Branch did not disappoint Saturday. He returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown, caught a 25-yard TD, set up another TD with a 35-yard punt return and caught four passes in all for 58 yards.

“He did a good job not trying to do too much, which guys in their first game sometimes will do,” USC coach Lincoln Riley said of a player who did a lot. “The patience, especially on the return, was key. He heavily impacted the game.”

So did Williams. He led USC to touchdowns on six of his eight possessions before leaving the game early in the fourth quarter.

“We’ve got a special team,” Williams said. “We’ve got a long way to go and a lot to get better at. A key sense of frustration was inconsistency. Whether it was dropped balls. Whether it was me fumbling snaps.”

11 Heisman Winners Who Had A Chance To Repeat

Here are the previous 11 Heisman Trophy winners who had a chance to win a second one:

1978 – Oklahoma RB Billy Sims … Finished 2nd in 1979 To USC RB Charles White

1990 – BYU QB Ty Detmer … Finished 3rd in 1991 to Michigan WR/KR Desmond Howard and runner-up Florida State QB Casey Weldon

2003 – Oklahoma QB Jason White … Finished 3rd in 2004 to USC QB Matt Leinart and runner-up Oklahoma RB Adrian Peterson

2004 – USC QB Matt Leinart … Finished 3rd in 2005 to USC RB Reggie Bush* and runner-up Texas QB Vince Young

2007 – Florida QB Tim Tebow … Finished 3rd in 2008 to Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford and runner-up Texas QB Colt McCoy. Not a finalist in 2009 when Alabama RB Mark Ingram won it

2008 – Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford … Not a finalist in 2009 when Alabama RB Mark Ingram won it

2009 – Alabama RB Mark Ingram … Not a finalist in 2010 when Auburn QB Cam Newton won it

2012 – Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel – Not a finalist in 2013 when Florida State QB Jameis Winston won it

2013 – Florida State QB James Winston – Not a finalist in 2014 when Oregon QB Marcus Mariota won it

2016 – Louisville QB Lamar Jackson – Finished 3rd in 2017 to Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield and Stanford RB runner-up Bryce Love

2021 – Alabama QB Bryce Young – Not a finalist in 2022 to USC QB Caleb Williams and TCU QB runner-up Max Duggan.

*Reggie Bush returned his Heisman Trophy to the Heisman Trophy Trust upon request in 2010 after the NCAA ruled Bush had accepted impermissible benefits while at USC.

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

Guilbeau joined OutKick as an SEC columnist in September of 2021 after covering LSU and the Saints for 17 years at USA TODAY Louisiana. He has been a national columnist/feature writer since the summer of 2022, covering college football, basketball and baseball with some NFL, NBA, MLB, TV and Movies and general assignment, including hot dog taste tests.

A New Orleans native and Mizzou graduate, he has consistently won Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) and Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) awards since covering Alabama and Auburn at the Mobile Press-Register (1993-98) and LSU and the Saints at the Baton Rouge Advocate (1998-2004). In 2021, Guilbeau won an FWAA 1st for a game feature, placed in APSE Beat Writing, Breaking News and Explanatory, and won Beat Writer of the Year from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA). He won an FWAA columnist 1st in 2017 and was FWAA's top overall winner in 2016 with 1st in game story, 2nd in columns, and features honorable mention.

Guilbeau completed a book in 2022 about LSU's five-time national champion coach - "Everything Matters In Baseball: The Skip Bertman Story" - that is available at, and Barnes & Noble outlets. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, the former Michelle Millhollon of Thibodaux who previously covered politics for the Baton Rouge Advocate and is a communications director.

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