NEW YORK -- From John Cappelletti to Mike Rozier, running backs once walked off with 11 consecutive Heisman Trophies.
Recently, though, quarterbacks have been too tough to pass up. The last five Heisman winners have been QBs.
Reggie Bush is a good bet to snap that streak tonight and become the 41st ball carrier to tuck away college football's most prestigious individual award since Chicago halfback Jay Berwanger won the first in 1935.
Southern Cal's untouchable tailback is the favorite after capping a brilliant junior season with two breathtaking performances and an outrageous average of 8.9 yards a carry.
''That's crazy. That's ludicrous," said Tony Dorsett, the 1976 Heisman winner from Pittsburgh. ''It is just unheard of. Reggie's a game-breaker, a big-game player. That's all you need to say."
Bush will be joined by Texas quarterback Vince Young and USC quarterback Matt Leinart in midtown Manhattan when the Heisman is handed out for the 71st time.
The three finalists have been the favorites even before the season started.
Leinart, last year's Heisman winner, became a contender to repeat as soon as he decided to return for his senior season. The lefthander has thrown for 3,450 yards and 27 touchdowns this season, improving to 37-1 as a starter for the top-ranked Trojans. If Leinart wins, he'll join Archie Griffin as the only players to win the award twice. The Ohio State running back did it in 1974 and '75.
As a past winner, Leinart gets to cast a ballot.
''Reggie's got my vote," Leinart said after Bush ran for 260 yards and two scores in the Trojans' 66-19 win over UCLA that wrapped up a perfect regular season.
Leinart has already won the Johnny Unitas Award as the nation's top senior quarterback, and Bush took home two top honors Thursday -- the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award and the Doak Walker Award as the nation's top running back. Eleven of the past 15 Walter Camp winners also won the Heisman.
Young has always been one of the most dangerous runners in the country -- in last year's Rose Bowl, he scored four touchdowns on the ground against Michigan -- but this season he's developed into a top-flight passer. The junior leads the nation in passing efficiency at 168.6 with 26 touchdown passes, and on Thursday was awarded the Davey O'Brien Award for the nation's most outstanding quarterback and the Maxwell Award for the country's outstanding all-around player.
Young would be Texas's third Heisman winner. The first two were running backs. Ricky Williams won it in 1998 and Earl Campbell ('77) was part of that long run of Heisman running backs, starting in 1973 with Penn State fullback Cappelletti and ending with Nebraska I-back Rozier.
As with Leinart, Bush is being touted as a possible No. 1 pick in the NFL draft. Bush has said he'll decide whether to go pro after the Rose Bowl Jan. 4.
East Stroudsburg quarterback Jimmy Terwilliger received the Harlon Hill Trophy as the top player in Division 2.