Greatest Individual Season in the Pac-12
The greatest individual season in the history of the Pac-12 was LaMichael James' 2011 season.
Ha Ha! Just kidding, Trojan fans!
You know I am a huge fan of LaMichael James. James strung together three of the best seasons of running the ball in college football history.
However, when it came to deciding who in the Pac-12 (and going way back to the Pac-8 and Pac-10) had the greatest individual season ever, it was an easy choice.
For those of you not alive in 1981, I'm sorry you never got the chance to see USC's Marcus Allen run the ball that year.
Let's look at why Allen's record-breaking performance in 1981 was the greatest individual season in conference history.
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First 2,000 Yard Rusher
I remember this like it was yesterday. Marcus Allen rushed for more than 2,000 yards in 1981, becoming the first player in NCAA history to do so.
His 1981 senior season total was 2,342 yards. I never thought I would see that record broken until Barry Sanders did it in 1988 (2,628).
LaMichael James, by comparison, rushed for 1,805 yards in 2011. We'll never know, of course, what he would have done his senior season.
Being the first player to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season was impressive. But, to me, this next stat is even more impressive.
Allen rushed for 200+ yards in eight games in his 1981 season. At one stretch, he rushed for 200+ yards in five consecutive games. Both were NCAA records at the time.
It's not like his opponents didn't know what was coming with USC's offense in those days. It didn't matter; no one could stop him.
Allen set 14 NCAA records in 1981 and tied two others.
Among the records he set were most yards rushing in a single season (2,342), highest per-game average (212.9), most 200 yard games in a career (11), most 200 yard games in a season (8), and most 200 yard games in a row (5).
Only 14 running backs in college football history have rushed for more than 2,000 yards in a single season since Allen did it first.
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images
Of course, Marcus Allen won the Heisman Trophy in 1981, the fourth running back from USC to do so.
There was no one more outstanding that year than the RB who broke the record book. However, some of the athletes who finished behind Allen will jog your memory.
Herschel Walker from Georgia finished second to Allen, 1,199 total points compared to Allen's 1,797. It was the first time since 1944 that a sophomore had finished second.
Jim McMahon was third and Dan Marino was fourth—two pretty good players.
After the Heisman
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Marcus Allen went on to a brilliant NFL career after being drafted the 10th overall selection by the Los Angeles Raiders.
Playing for the Raiders, Allen was named the NFL MVP, and was the Super Bowl XVIII MVP. He is one of only four players to win both the Heisman Trophy and the Super Bowl MVP.
Allen finished his career with the Kansas City Chiefs after a very public dispute with the Raiders' Al Davis. He was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2003.
It may be some time before we see another individual effort in the Pac-12 like Marcus Allen's 1981 season.