Beyond the numbers: What makes these 6 college football stats so unbelievable
I like research. I enjoy combing through numbers, discovering a trend and providing context.
Take Joe Burrow’s historic season, for instance. Everybody knows he set the NCAA record with 60 TD passes. You read that everywhere. But even before it happened, we put his pursuit in context. LSU QBs had thrown 59 TD passes combined in the previous 4 seasons. Before he became a member, we broke down how many QBs in FBS history belonged to the exclusive 50-TD, 5,000-yard club, etc.
Just this week, I stumbled upon another Burrow stat, probably something I should have pieced together during the season. It’s one of 6 stats from the 2019 college football season that are almost too mind-boggling to believe.
1. Joe Burrow had 13 300-yard games in 2019
That’s obviously the SEC and LSU single-season record. (He just missed tying the NCAA record of 14, shared by Case Keenum and Paul Smith.)
But you want to know what truly makes it ridiculous?
In the 11 previous seasons (2008-2018), LSU threw for 300+ yards just 11 times combined — and Burrow provided 2 of those in 2018.
2. Joe Burrow won the SEC passing title by 2,730 yards
Yes, that’s the largest margin in SEC history. Just that gap alone — 2,730 yards — would have been the 6th-most passing yards in LSU history.
Burrow, who finished with 5,671 yards, broke Tim Couch’s single-season SEC record by 1,396 yards. The knee-jerk reaction might be, “Of course he did. He played in 4 more games than Couch did.”
True enough. But Couch still threw 26 more passes than Burrow.
3. Tua Tagovailoa still had a better TD/attempt ratio than Burrow
Tagovailoa finished his injury-marred season with 33 TD passes on 252 attempts — 1 TD for every 7.64 passes. (That was even better than his 2018 ratio — 43 TDs in 355 attempts, 1 every 8.25 attempts.)
Burrow threw 60 TDs on 527 attempts — 1 TD every 8.73 passes.
4. Tua Tagovailoa became the 1st QB in Alabama history to throw 30+ TDs twice in a career
Tagovailoa, who set the program record with 43 TD passes in 2018, added 33 in 2019. He now ranks No. 1 and No. 2 in single-season TD passes in Alabama history.
AJ McCarron is the only other Tide QB who threw 30 TD passes in a season — and he only did it once, in 2012.
5. Jalen Hurts became the 1st QB in FBS history to do this
The former Alabama QB set career highs for passing yards and rushing yards in his lone season at Oklahoma.
He threw for 3,851 yards and ran for 1,298 more.
Five other Power 5 QBs belong in the 3,000/1,000 club.
However, Hurts became the only QB in FBS history to throw for 3,800 yards and rush for 1,200 in the same season.
6. Justin Fields threw more TD passes in 2019 than passes in 2018
Fields led the Big Ten with 41 TD passes in 2019.
Fields threw just 39 passes as Georgia’s misused/little-used backup in 2018.
Those 41 TD passes? That total would have broken the Georgia single-season record, which Aaron Murray set in 2012 with 36.