-- Southern California running back Reggie Bush, who dazzled fans and frightened opponents with his ability to alter a college football game every time he touched the football, won the 71st Heisman Trophy by a landslide vote on Saturday night during ceremonies at the Nokia Theatre in Times Square.
Bush, whose big-play abilities and elusive running have rarely been seen in college football, won the award over Texas quarterback Vince Young and teammate Matt Leinart, the quarterback who won the Heisman Trophy last year and has guided the Trojans to two consecutive national titles. Bush and Leinart will try to make it three in a row when No. 1 Southern California plays the No. 2 Longhorns in the Jan. 4 Rose Bowl, the national championship game.
Bush, who led Division I-A with 217.6 all-purpose yards per game and averaged 8.9 yards per carry, received 784 first-place votes in voting by 892 media members and past Heisman Trophy winners. Bush was on 99 percent of the ballots, the highest percentage ever, and his first-place votes and 2,541 points overall were second-most in history -- another Southern California running back, O.J. Simpson, had 855 first-place votes and 2,853 points in winning the 1968 Heisman Trophy.
The Heisman Trophy voting, administered by the Downtown Athletic Club of New York, is tabulated on a 3-2-1 basis, with the first choice receiving three points.
"It's a little bit of a relief, excitement, anticipation, all of that," said Bush, who finished fifth in Heisman Trophy voting last year. "It's been a long time coming. I really put in a lot of extra work coming into this season to get back up there and win this thing."
Young, who led the country in passing efficiency and whose 78 touchdowns (passing and running) are the most in Texas history, finished second with 1,608 points and 79 first-place votes. Leinart finished third with 797 points and 18 first-place votes. A quarterback won the Heisman Trophy in each of the previous five years.
"I was shocked because Vince Young and Matt are great players," Bush said, of winning by 933 points, the second-largest margin ever. "It's an honor and I'm humbled by it."
As a former Heisman Trophy winner, Leinart voted this year and said he put Bush first and Young second. Leinart said he left himself off the ballot and didn't choose a third-place finisher.
"I won it last year and he deserved to win it," Leinart said. "Obviously, his play on the field shows why he's the best college football player in the country. Playing really big in the big games and becoming more of a leader, he's a perfect description of a Heisman Trophy winner."
It is only the fourth time players from the same school won the Heisman Trophy in consecutive seasons -- most recently, Ohio State running back Archie Griffin, the only two-time winner, won the award in 1974 and '75. Army running backs Felix "Doc" Blanchard and Glenn Davis, known as "Mr. Inside" and "Mr. Outside," respectively, while leading the academy to three consecutive national titles, won the Heisman Trophy in consecutive years, Blanchard in 1945 and Davis in '46.
Bush is the seventh Trojans player and the fifth USC running back to win the Heisman Trophy, tying Notre Dame for the school with the most winners. Southern California also is the first school to have three winners in four years -- quarterback Carson Palmer won the award in 2002.
Bush, a junior from San Diego, turned what was expected to be a close vote into a landslide with his record-setting performance in the Trojans' 50-42 victory over Fresno State on Nov. 19. Bush had 513 all-purpose yards against the Bulldogs, a Pacific-10 Conference record: 294 rushing, 68 receiving, 135 on kickoff returns and 16 on punt returns.
Bush was at his best in the Trojans' biggest games this season, averaging 198.8 rushing yards and 302.2 all-purpose yards in five games against ranked opponents. In a 34-31 victory at then-No. 9 Notre Dame, Bush ran for 160 yards and then pushed Leinart into the end zone for the winning touchdown with three seconds to play.
"His ability to do so many things on the football field -- run the ball, catching the ball, even throwing the ball every once in awhile, and all the return yards -- that's what makes him so special," Leinart said. "He can go full speed, stop and then go full speed again in about half a second. It's amazing."
Note: Penn State's Paul Posluszny won the Butkus Award as the nation's best linebacker. Posluszny has 111 tackles, including 11 for a loss.