There have been many running backs that had great careers in the history of college football. However, there has never been a running back who has had a better season than that of Barry Sanders during his junior season of Oklahoma State University.
Just the numbers themselves are amazing. Sanders rushed the ball 373 times for 2,850 yards and 42 touchdowns. He also hauled in 19 receptions for 106 yards. On special teams, Sanders fielded 21 kick returns for 421 yards and one touchdown. He also returned 10 punts for 94 yards and one touchdown.
Just in case you're not keeping count, that is 3,249 all-purpose yards and 44 touchdowns.
His lowest yards rushing total in a game his junior season was 154 yards and two touchdowns in the Cowboys game against Missouri, in which they won 49-21.
People were glowing over Alabama running back Trent Richardson’s performance against Auburn in the season finale when he rushed for 203 yards. It was a great performance, but compared to Sanders junior season, it was just another day at the office.
Sanders rushed for more than 300 yards four times his junior season. In fact, Sanders rushed for 200 yards or more in seven of the Cowboys 12 games, including six in a row to finish the season.
This past season, one of the top conversations among media and fans was if South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier was hurting running back Marcus Lattimore’s career by giving him too many caries. Lattimore had 242 carries in his only full season
Sanders, on the other hand, carried the ball 373 times his junior season.
He was Mr. Touchdown at Oklahoma State, where he scored at least two touchdowns in 11 consecutive games, and three or more touchdowns nine times.
During his junior season Sanders set 33 NCAA records, and is still considered by most to be the greatest single season in college football history.
Sanders never had a bad game or even struggled. Even in the Cowboys two losses, Sanders rushed for 403 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Hershel Walker had the greatest career of any running back in college history. However, Barry Sanders had the greatest season of any college football player at any position, and it is not even close.
Younger fans will usually point to Sanders career with the Lions for historical reference. However, for those who have ever seen film of Sanders at Oklahoma State, it is the first thought that comes to mind.
Sanders left for the draft before his senior season, but the memory of his junior will last forever.