Troy Smith ran away with the 2006 Heisman Trophy, nearly tripling the point total of the second-place finisher, Darren McFadden. It was (and remains) the second-largest margin of victory in the award's 85-year history. It was also the start of a bizarre trend.
Smith had a nice season in 2005, scoring 27 total touchdowns in leading Ohio State to a 10-2 record and shared Big Ten Championship, but he didn't receive a single Heisman vote as Reggie Bush and Vince Young battled for the most prestigious individual award in college sports. Smith didn't return to college football in 2007, nor did Brady Quinn (third place), Dwayne Jarrett (ninth), or Calvin Johnson (10th), but the other six top-10 finishers did: McFadden, Steve Slaton (fourth), Michael Hart (fifth), Colt Brennan (sixth), Ray Rice (seventh), Ian Johnson (eighth).
McFadden had more yards and touchdowns but played for a worse Arkansas team and finished second to Tim Tebow in the 2007 Heisman voting. Tebow joined Smith as the second straight winner who didn't finish in the top 10 the previous season. It happened again a year later when Sam Bradford narrowly edged Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow…and again in 2009 (Mark Ingram) and every year until Baker Mayfield finally snapped the streak in 2017. Mayfield finished third in 2016.
A new streak began with Kyler Murray's win in 2018 and as Joe Burrow leaves returning 2018 top-10 finishers in his dust (Tua Tagovailoa, Travis Etienne, and Jonathan Taylor), should extend in 2019.
Burrow, win or lose, won't be back next year to win another a top-10 finish, nor will projected top-10 finishers Jalen Hurts or Chase Young. If Jonathan Taylor declares for the draft, obviously he won't be back to win the 2020 Heisman. Maybe Justin Fields can do it? Or Chuba Hubbard?
For now, Joe Burrow should continue the bizarre Heisman trend.