This second MNC Wednesday miniseries evaluates only Heisman Trophy history: In 38 seasons overall, we have confirmed just 14 winners—demonstrating that a lot of the voting process really came down to hype and ignorant voting. We’re trying to correct that (post de facto, of course), as we have done with all sports, really, over the past 2.5 years running now … enjoy our Hypesman revisionist experience!

1994 Heisman Trophy winner: Rashaan Salaam, RB, Colorado (original); Ki-Jana Carter, RB, Penn State (revised)

The Colorado Buffaloes posted a 10-1 regular-season record against the No. 27 schedule in the nation, led by running back Rashaan Salaam. The team’s only loss came on the road against eventual (voted) national champion Nebraska, and Salaam posted 2,349 scrimmage yards and 24 touchdowns to lead his team to a Fiesta Bowl bid and a No. 3 overall poll ranking. Oh, yes, he also won the Heisman vote, readily.

But, of course, there are always other candidates to consider. As a result, this is our final list of properly vetted Heisman candidates for the 1994 Heisman Trophy, which is short and semi-sweet:

  • Ki-Jana Carter, RB, Penn State: 1,743 total yards and 23 TDs (No. 8 SOS)
  • Kerry Collins, QB, Penn State: 2,679 passing yards with 21 TDs and 7 INTs for a 172.9 QB rating
  • Lawrence Phillips, RB, Nebraska: 1,894 total yards and 16 TDs (No. 40 SOS)

Carter led his team to an undefeated record and a Rose Bowl bid—not to mention our MNC designation. That SOS is really impressive, as is the undefeated part; Carter was second in the vote. Yet Collins led the nation in passing efficiency, creating a challenge here. The Nittany Lions QB finished fourth in the Heisman voting, so at the time, it was perceived that Carter made the Penn State offense go ’round.

We will agree with this take, as Collins only posted QB ratings in the mid-110s during the prior two seasons, so Carter advances to a showdown with Salaam. Meanwhile, Phillips falls short due to that SOS issue, of course, just as his team did in our MNC analysis noted above. In the end, we’re looking at Carter’s SOS as being pretty superior here, but Salaam has a huge yardage edge, nonetheless.

It’s not that Colorado’s SOS was bad, either—it’s good. Yet we have to consider usage here, too: Salaam had 322 touches, while Carter had just 212 touches. So, the PSU star gained 0.5 yards more per touch against a much harder schedule. Plus, again, his team went undefeated against that better schedule. In the end, by a slim margin, we’re giving this hardware to Carter.

Congratulations to Ki-Jana Carter, the real Heisman Trophy winner from 1994.