10 unbreakable records in college football
I sat in awe, refreshing ESPN.com’s GameTracker last season after every carry from Melvin Gordon, waiting on Wisconsin’s star running back to surpass the 400-yard barrier and inch closer to Ladainian Tomlinson’s all-time mark.
Gordon’s incredible 408-yard performance — through three quarters, no less — against Nebraska was short-lived.
Oklahoma freshman Samaje Perine eclipsed the total the following week after the Kansas Jayhawks forgot how to tackle, carrying the pill 27 times for a new NCAA-record 427 yards.
Some records are meant to be broken. But others, at least on the surface, appear untouchable.
Here are 10 current college football records one man at SDS has deemed unbreakable:
Longest winning streak (47 games)
Who holds it: Oklahoma, from 1953-57
Why it’s untouchable: Coached by the legendary Bud Wilkinson, the Sooners won two national championships during their record-setting stretch in the mid 1950s. Only twice since the turn of the century has a team surpassed 30 or more straight wins — USC and Miami. Jameis Winston led Florida State to 29 consecutive victories during his tenure, an impressive streak snapped in violent fashion by Oregon in last year’s first College Football Playoff semifinal at the Rose Bowl.
Interceptions, single game (9)
Who holds it: John Reaves, Florida, 1969
Why it’s untouchable: You’ve got to feel for Reaves, the Gators’ errant passer who tossed nine completions to the opposing defense at Auburn in 1969. The truth is, Florida didn’t have a second-team quarterback to relieve Reaves of his obvious tragic afternoon on the Plains and let the future first-round pick heave it 66 times during the game. Reaves led the SEC in passing yards and attempts all three seasons in Gainesville and is the league’s all-time leader in interceptions thrown with 59. Ouch.
Passing yards, single game (734)
Who holds it: Connor Halliday, Washington State, 2014
Why it’s untouchable: Houston quarterback David Klingler’s single-game FBS passing record of 716 yards stood for nearly 25 years before Halliday, a lesser-known quarterback and Air Raid product, eclipsed the mark last season. If any quarterback is going to approach this record in the future, he’ll be another Mike Leach understudy. During the 2013 campaign at Washington State, Halliday also set a new NCAA record with 89 passing attempts at Oregon. The Cougars simply refused to run the football. Attaboy, Leach.
Touchdown passes, single quarter (6)
Who holds it: David Klingler, Houston, 1991
Why it’s untouchable: Klingler set several single-game and career passing records during his time at Houston (that were later broken), but this one could be his most notable. He tossed six touchdown passes in the second quarter of a blowout win over Louisiana Tech in 1991. Offenses rarely get six possessions in a quarter, much less time to throw it to the end zone six different times. Klingler also holds the NCAA mark for most touchdown passes in one game (11).
Sacks, single season (27)
Who holds it: Derrick Thomas, Alabama, 1988
Why it’s untouchable: The NCAA didn’t start collecting sacks as an official FBS statistic until 2000, but we’re putting Thomas’ insane number of 27 quarterback faceplants with the Crimson Tide in 1988 inside the Top 10. He was a man among boys off the edge in Tuscaloosa and later set an NFL record with seven sacks in a single game for the Kansas City Chiefs in 1990. Thomas is a member of both the College Football and NFL Hall of Fame. Officially, Arizona State’s Terrell Suggs holds the NCAA’s single-season record with 24 sacks in 2002.
Receiving yards, career (5,005)
Who holds it: Trevor Insley, 1996-99
Why it’s untouchable: Insley, the NCAA’s all-time receiving yards leader, managed just 574 yards as a freshman in 1996 before exploding for 4,431 yards and 30 touchdowns over his final three seasons. Those gargantuan numbers would only be approached within a pass-happy offense with literally two or fewer reliable targets. Twelve players, including 2014 Biletnikoff winner Amari Cooper from Alabama, have surpassed the lofty 1,700-mark in a single season since 2008, but that often means NFL dollars will soon come calling once the three-year removed from high school rule has passed. Cooper would’ve had to post last season’s jaw-dropping numbers three consecutive seasons to pass Insley. It would take a dynamic talent like Randy Moss, who was interested in playing four seasons, to come close. Insane.
Total offense, single game (1,021)
Who holds it: Houston offense led by QB Andre Ware in 1990
Why it’s untouchable: The Cougars waxed SMU, 95-21, in a biblical beating that featured an all-out aerial assault from Ware, who threw for 517 yards and later won the Heisman. In today’s game, for the most part, teams take their foot off the gas once they hit the 63-point plateau and play out the stretch. Recently, Oregon and Baylor have each topped the 700-yard mark with their no-huddle attacks, but hitting quadruple digits in a single game just seems unfathomable.
Margin of victory, single game (222 points)
Who holds it: No. 1 Georgia Tech trampled Cumberland Gap (Tenn.) 222-0 in 1916
Why it’s untouchable: Could it be more obvious? The football gods skipped over this game pitting the nation’s best team against a small college from Tennessee at legendary Grant Field and let the bloodletting continue for four horrific quarters. The Yellow Jackets posted two 63-point quarters in the first half during a beating that will never be forgotten. It was reported that Georgia Tech coach John Heisman didn’t let up after Cumberland Gap had beaten the Yellow Jackets in baseball, 22-0, earlier that year.
Rushing yards, career (7,125)
Who holds it: Ron Dayne, Wisconsin, 1996-99
Why it’s untouchable: College football’s Heisman winner in 1999, Dayne topped 2,000 yards for the second time in his Big Ten career to finish with an incredible NCAA-record 7,125 yards on the ground on a record-breaking 1,220 carries. Elite running backs rarely play four seasons in today’s game where the shelf life for ballcarriers has diminished and players aren’t often asked to carry it 30 times-plus every Saturday to save tread. Dayne’s record is safe.
Touchdown responsibility (178; 155 pass, 23 rush)
Who holds it: Case Keenum, Houston, 2007-11
Why it’s untouchable: Kevin Sumlin’s facilitator of the Air Raid during his time in college, Keenum was fearless from the pocket channeled visions of high-powered Cougars offenses of old, slinging it around like record-setting quarterbacks Andre Ware and David Klingler before him. The raw video game-like numbers — nearly 20,000 yards passing and 155 touchdowns — jump off the page. Keenum was granted a medical hardship in 2010 after tearing a knee ligament, but his five touchdowns over three games prior to injury count. As a senior, Keenum was spectacular, throwing 48 touchdowns passes to just five interceptions — a ratio of nearly 10:1. Keenum’s NCAA record of 1,546 career completions also won’t be touched.