Throughout Charles Woodsonís college football career, Woodson was known for big plays in big moments of a game. As a freshman he had two interceptions in a victory against the #2-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes. During his Heisman-winning junior year, he made an acrobatic one-handed sideline interception against the Michigan State Spartans. Woodson had two interceptions in the game. In a game against Ohio State, he returned a punt for a touchdown, made an interception in the end-zone, and had a 37-yard reception that led to Michigan's only offensive touchdown of the game. The win lifted Michigan to the Rose Bowl. Michigan played the Washington State Cougars in the Rose Bowl.
Woodson recorded another end-zone interception in the game, helping Michigan defeat the Cougars and win a share of the 1997 national championship.
With 921 ballots mailed out, Woodson captured five sections, the Northeast, Mid Atlantic, Southwest, Midwest and the Far West, while quarterback Peyton Manning of Tennessee won the South.
In his junior season in 1997, Charles Woodson became the third Michigan player to win the Heisman Trophy, joining Tom Harmon (1940) and Desmond Howard (1991). Woodson received 282 more voting points than runner-up Peyton Manning. He was the first and is still the only primarily defensive player to win the prestigious award.
Woodson is the last player to win the Heisman Trophy that is not a running back or quarterback. Woodson led the Michigan Wolverines to an undefeated season and a share of the national championship in the same year. He won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the best defensive college player. He was named to the All-Big Ten First-Team for the third year and First-Team All-American for the second year. It was his second year winning the Chevrolet Defensive Player of the Year award and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. Woodson won the Jim Thorpe Award, an award which he was nominated for the previous year.