College Football's 25 Most Prestigious Records and Will They Ever Fall?
The NCAA FBS Football record book is 124 pages long and lists a mind boggling number of records from 141 seasons of play.
Everything from all-time home field records to most consecutive games throwing for 300 yards and rushing for 100 yards is tracked and carefully preserved for our appreciation and future reference.
But which amongst these sacred high statistical water marks in college football are the most esteemed, prominent and exalted?
Well, friend, that’s a really tough call, because frankly, they are all, every single one of them, impressive and worthy of celebration.
Regardless of the inherent dangers presented by doing so, the following slideshow attempts to boldly choose 25 of the most prestigious of the all-time records and further discuss whether these high marks will remain atop the heap of greatness.
Career Passing Yards
Current Record: 17,072 yards, Timmy Chang, Hawaii, 2000-04
When Timmy Chang wrapped up his 17,072 yard career in 2004, he surpassed Ty Detmer’s 15,031 yard mark that had stood since he finished at BYU in 1991.
In today’s pass happy environment, Chang’s mark will inevitably fall at some point, but it will likely mean that a prolific quarterback will have to stay put for four full seasons to reach the 17,000 yard mark.
Oklahoma’s 2010 QB Landry Jones finished last season with 4,718 yards (No. 2 nationally) and has 7,916 career passing yards going into his junior season.
If Jones were to stay through his senior year, he would need to average 4,600 yards per season over the next two years to put him ahead of Chang in the all-time standings.
Single Season Passing Yards
Current Record: 5,833 yards, B.J. Symons, Texas Tech, 2004
The single season passing yards record has crept up over 1,000 yards since Jim McMahon of BYU threw for 4,571 yards in 1980.
Since then, the record has been held by Andre Ware (Houston, 1989, 4,699 yards), Ty Detmer (BYU, 1990, 5,188 yards) and then finally B.J. Symons, who threw the ball in Mike Leach’s “Air Raid” attack in 2004.
This is another record that seems destined to fall, as teams keep finding away to rack up yards through the air.
The best candidates for such a breakthrough in 2011 include Hawaii’s Bryant Moniz (an incoming senior) who threw for 5,040 yards in 2010 (No. 1 nationally), Oklahoma’s Landry Jones (a junior next season) who accounted for 4,718 yards in 2010 (No. 2) and Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden (a senior in 2011) who amassed 4,277 yards last season.
Moinz (from Hawaii) will be hampered by the loss of some of his more prolific targets, but Jones and Weeden return with most of their top grabbers.
A wildcard could be West Virginia’s Geno Smith, who threw for 2,763 yards last season but will be playing under OC Dana Holgorsen’s system in 2011 (which completely transformed Oklahoma State’s offense in 2010).
Single Game Total Yards
Current Record: 732 yards (716 passing, 16 rushing), David Klingler, Houston (vs. Arizona St.), December 2, 1990
To give you an idea how huge 732 yards of offense in one game is, Bryant Moniz of Hawaii (who led the No. 1 ranked pass offense in college football in 2010) had season high games of 581 total yards against Louisiana Tech and 546 total yards against San Jose State.
Both these huge performance fell approximately 150 full yards short of Klinger’s mark in 1990.
This record is likely to stand for some time to come.
Current Record: 78, Travis Prentice, Miami (OH), 1996-99
Travis Prentice’s record of 78 career touchdowns (468 points) has stood for over a decade, and really, there is at least one guy that currently has a realistic shot of surpassing Prentice; that is, if he sticks around through his senior season.
LaMichael James from Oregon (who will be a junior next season) has 38 career touchdowns thus far, which means he would need an average of 21 total TDs over the next two seasons to pass Prentice. As a gauge, James had 24 total touchdowns in 2010 (21 rushing and three receiving).
Single Season Touchdowns
Current Record: 39, Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State, 1988
Barry Sanders scored a stunning 3.5 touchdowns per game for the Cowboys in 1988 (this per game mark is also a record), and it seems highly unlikely that either mark will be surpassed anytime soon.
To give you an idea of how phenomenal this number is, since 2006, the highest number of touchdowns scored in one season was 30, which came in 2007 via RB Kevin Smith, who played for UCF.
So who has even a remote chance of scoring 39 touchdowns (234 points) in 2011?
LaMichael James (Oregon)? Justin Blackmon (Oklahoma State)? Marcus Lattimore (South Carolina)?
Single Game Rushing Touchdowns
Current Record: Eight, Howard Griffith, Illinois (vs. Southern Illinois), September 22, 1990
Howard Griffith accounted for 48 full points in Illinois’ 56-21 defeat of Southern Illinois in 1990; he scored three touchdowns on consecutive carries and scored four touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
This one seems almost impossible to beat...
Case in point, LaMichael James was ranked No. 2 in scoring in 2010 with 149 points, which means that scoring 48 points in one game would equate to scoring 32 percent of his points in one game.
James’ best game performance in terms of TDs came four times (Stanford, Washington State, USC and Washington) when he scored three times during a game, five full scores short of the Griffith mark.
Career Touchdown Passes
Current Record: 134, Graham Harrell, Texas Tech, 2005-08
Ty Detmer of BYU finished his illustrious career in 1991 with 121 touchdown passes and held the record for career TD throws for 16 years until Hawaii’s Colt Brennan wrapped up his college tenure with 131 TD passes.
Brennan’s mark lasted just one season before Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell left Lubbock with 134 touchdown tosses, a record he has held ever since.
Again, you have got to think that these passing records are made to be broken, eventually.
If QB Landry Jones sticks around in Norman through his senior season (he will be a junior next year), he needs an average of 35 touchdown passes per season to knock Harrell off the top of the heap. As a gauge, Jones threw 38 touchdowns in 2010 and 21 in 2009.
Kellen Moore of Boise State is another guy with a shot at the top spot; he has 99 career touchdown passes thus far, and with a senior season left to play, he will need 36 TD tosses to do it. Realistic? He threw 25 in 2008, 39 in 2009 and 35 in 2010.
Single Season Touchdown Passes
Current Record: 58, Colt Brennan, Hawaii, 2006
Dennis Shaw of San Diego State threw 39 touchdown passes way back in 1969, a record setting total that stood until Jim McMahon of BYU tossed 47 TDs in 1980.
McMahon’s mark survived a decade until Houston’s David Klinger threw 54 in 1990, which was finally surpassed in 2006 when Colt Brennan lit it up for 58 touchdown passes in 2006.
This is the passing record that seems the most difficult to surpass.
The only guys that have even come close are Texas Tech’s BJ Symons in 2003 (52), Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford in 2008 (50) and Tech’s Graham Harrell in 2007 (48). But these guys were still all six plus throws short of Brennan.
Who could throw 58 touchdown passes in 2011?
Here is the short list (including the number of TD passes they threw last season): Bryant Moniz (Hawaii, 39), Landry Jones (Oklahoma, 38), Dominique Davis (East Carolina, 37), Kellen Moore (Boise State, 35) and Brandon Weeden (Oklahoma State, 34).
But for one of these guys to do it, they will have to throw an additional 20 TD passes (120 points) in 2011 (above and beyond what they managed in 2010). This equates to 1.5 more touchdowns per game over a 13 game season.
Single Game Touchdown Passes
Current Record: 11, David Klinger, Houston (vs. Eastern Washington), November 17, 1990
David Klinger hurled 66 points worth of touchdown passes in the Cougars' 1990 84-21 beat down of Eastern Washington, which hardly seems like a mark anyone will surpass in the near future (even given the pass happy pulse of our nation).
Bryant Moniz of Hawaii, who was the number one TD tosser in 2010, had a season high of six TD throws in a 66-7 score fest over Charleston Southern on September 25, 2010, but this is still five full scores short of Klinger’s mark.
Brandon Weeden of Oklahoma State also hurled six in a game against Tulsa.
Landry Jones of Oklahoma managed a season high five TD passes in a 45-7 win over Texas Tech, Dominique Davis of East Carolina threw five touchdown passes three times last season (Tulsa, Navy and UAB), and Taylor Potts of Texas Tech threw five TDs in a 52-38 loss to Iowa State.
All these season high performances aren’t even half of what Klinger managed against Eastern Washington 20 years ago.
Career Rushing Yards
Current Record: 6,397 yards, Ron Dayne, Wisconsin, 1996-99
The college football career rushing yard record has been held by such greats as Archie Griffin (Ohio State), Tony Dorsett (Pittsburgh) and Ricky Williams (Texas).
Ricky Williams’ 6,279 yard mark set at the close of the 1998 campaign lasted only a year before Ron Dayne capped off his career at Wisconsin with 6,397 yards rushing.
Rushing for over 6,400 yards in a career means carrying a 1,599 yard per year average over a four-year career or managing a 2,133 per year average over a three-season campaign.
Both are huge orders to fill.
Who could pull it off?
Well, even LaMicheal James of Oregon (who was the leading rusher in 2010) would need to average 1,561 yards per season over his junior and seniors to surpass Dayne. Yes, he ran for 1,731 yards last season, but is that something he can sustain for two more seasons, and will he even be around for his senior year?
Single Season Rushing Yards
Current Record: 2,628 yards, Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State, 1988
In 2007, Kevin Smith of UCF came within 61 precious yards of ending Barry Sanders' long reign as the single season rushing champion of college football.
But the interesting bit is that Kevin Smith had to run the ball 106 more times than Sanders did and played in three additional games than Sanders; all this makes Sanders' 2,628 yard mark even more impressive.
Whoever bests Sanders’ 1988 mark (which topped Marcus Allen’s 2,342 yard performance in 1981) will be a beast.
Since 2006, only three backs (other than Kevin Smith) have even reached the 2,000 mark. In 2007, Matt Forte from Tulane posted 2,127 yards, and Ray Rice from Rutgers racked up 2,012 yards and in 2008 Donald Brown of UConn ran for 2,083 yards.
These guys all had 12 plus games to work with, while Barry Sanders only had 11.
Single Game Rushing Yards
Current Record: 406 yards, LaDainian Tomilson, TCU (vs. UTEP), November 20, 1999
Before LaDainian Tomlinson racked up 406 yards against UTEP in 1999, Tony Sands of Kansas hung up 396 yards on Missouri in 1991, Anthony Thomas from Indiana rushed for 377 yards against Wisconsin in 1989, Ruben Meyers from Washington State ran for 357 yards versus Oregon in 1984 and Eddie Lee Ivory from Georgia Tech hung up 356 yards on Air Force in 1978.
Well, last season, Illinois’ Mikel Leshoure ran for 330 yards in a game against Northwestern, but that equaled a full 19 percent of his 1,697 total season rushing yards, and he was the No. 3 ranked rusher in the country.
The No. 1 ranked LaMichael James' season high in 2010 was 257 yards against Stanford, a full 149 yards short of Tomlinson’s record.
You have to figure for a prolific rusher to topple the 406 yard record, he will have to flat go off on an under matched defense that epically struggles against the run.
Career Receiving Yards
Current Record: 5,005, Trevor Insley, Nevada, 1996-99
Breaking the record that Trevor Insley has held on to for over a decade may come down to keeping a fruitful receiver out of the NFL draft until after his senior year.
Justin Blackmon from Oklahoma State is a perfect example; he has 2,042 career receiving yards through his sophomore season, and if he stays in Stillwater for two more years, he only needs an average of 1,482 yards per season to beat the record (he had 1,782 in 2010).
Even more probability can be found in the case of Ryan Broyles of Oklahoma, who will bring 3,429 career yards (and his starting QB) with him into his senior season, which means he needs only 1,576 yards to topple Insley.
But Broyles is no “sure thing”, as his 1,622 receiving yards in 2010 was a career high (he posted 1,120 in 2009 and 687 in 2008), an injury or drop in production means it’s still someone else’s record to beat.
Single Season Receiving Yards
Current Record: 2,060, Trevor Insley, Nevada, 1999
The nearest anyone has come to besting Insley’s single season receiving yards record is when Michael Crabtree (Texas Tech) racked up 1,962 yards in 2007.
Can anybody among the current top receivers go over 2,000 yards in 2011?
You’d have to think that Oklahoma’s Ryan Broyles (1,622 yards in 2010) and Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon (1,782 yards in 2010) both have as good of a chance as anyone since they both return in 2011 with their starting quarterbacks (Landry Jones and Brandon Weeden, respectively).
Other options are Alshon Jeffery from South Carolina, who managed 1,517 yards in his sophomore season and Houston’s Patrick Edwards, who gained 1,100 yards last season and will have QB Case Keenum back on the other end of the transaction in 2011.
Current Record: 29, Al Brosky, Illinois, 1950-52
The career interception mark has stood for a jaw-dropping 58 years, which makes it hard to believe that anyone can topple Al Brosky and his 29 picks anytime soon.
Last season’s No. 2 finisher in interceptions, Mana Silva from Hawaii, had eight picks as a senior capping off his career with 14 interceptions, which falls short of being even half of Brosky’s total.
To reach 29, a defender would have to play all four seasons of eligibility and average 7.25 picks per season, or play three seasons and average 10 interceptions per year.
Two younger guys with an outside shot are Jayron Hosley from Virginia Tech, who finished off his sophomore season with nine picks (he’ll need 21 more over the next two seasons to pass Brosky) and Robert Lester of Alabama, who finished his sophomore campaign with eight interceptions (he’ll need 22 more picks to get over the 29 mark).
Sadly, Al Brosky (who was born in Cincinnati in 1928) passed away in November 2010.
Single Season Interceptions
Current Record: 14, Al Worley, Washington, 1968
At least on this list, the interceptions records (as a pair) take the cake for being long standing and near impossible to overtake.
Al Worley’s 14 pick record in 1968 has stood for over 40 years, which is easy to understand when you consider the fact that since 2006, only one player has managed even 10 interceptions in a season: Rahim Moore from UCLA in 2009.
Reaching the 14 mark in interceptions in a single season will be, statistically speaking, a bit of a freak event when some really talented defender is in the right place at the right time on many occasions in the same season; of course, he has to hold on to the ball too.
What makes you think this record will eventually fall, regardless of how tall of an order it seems like, is the fact that teams throw the ball so many times now, which gives more opportunity for defenders to pick the ball off.
Perhaps this is a record that will eventually be broken by someone who plays defense in the pass happy Big 12 conference (wait, does anyone play defense in the pass happy Big 12?).
Current Record: 316, Taylor Stubblefield, Purdue, 2001-04
Taylor Stubblefield has held off Taurean Henderson (Texas Tech, 2005, 303 receptions) and Antonio Brown (Central Michigan, 2009, 305 receptions) since becoming the career reception leader at the end of his career in 2004.
This is a record that is destined to go down probably sooner than later.
Oklahoma’s Ryan Broyles is likely the next in line to take the lead; he takes his 266 career receptions into his senior year and needs only 50 grabs to overtake Stubblefield’s record of 316.
Can he get 50? Well, he had 46 in 2008, 89 in 2009 and 131 in 2010.
Single Season Receptions
Current Record: 155, Freddie Barnes, Bowling Green, 2009
Freddie Burns' 155 receptions in 2009 broke the 20 year standing record of 142 catches compiled in 1989 by Manny Hazard from Houston.
Barnes’ record may have staying power, as 155 single season receptions won’t be easy to beat. Case in point, only two receivers (other than Burns himself) had had more than 130 catches in a season since 2006: Michael Crabtree (Texas Tech) with 134 grabs in 2007 and Ryan Broyles (Oklahoma) with 131 catches in 2010.
Career Sacks (since 2000)
Current Record: 44, Terrell Suggs, Arizona State, 2000-02
The NCAA record book only lists records for certain defensive stats (sacks, tackles, forced fumbles, passes defended, etc.) since 2000.
This fact takes nothing away from Terrell Suggs performance during his time as a Sun Devil, when he managed 44 sacks in three seasons, which equals an average of 14.6 per season.
This record will not fall easily; to illustrate, Von Miller wrapped up his stellar career at Texas A&M recently with 33 total sacks (including a career high 17 sacks in 2009). This is 11 sacks short of Sugg’s mark.
Guys with a shot include Brandon Jenkins from Florida State, who finished his sophomore season with 14 career sacks, meaning he needs an average of over 15 sacks per year over his junior and senior seasons (if he stays) to topple Suggs.
Another less visible candidate is Jonathan Massaquoi from Troy, who also finished his sophomore season with 14 sacks and also needs to get over 15 sacks over the next two seasons to make a run at the record, but Massaquoi is probably more likely to stay for four full seasons than Jenkins (the NFL draft phone doesn’t have the same reception in Troy, Alabama as it does in Tallahassee, Florida).
Any way you slice it, 44 sacks in a career is flat amazing.
Single Season Sacks (since 2000)
Current Record: 24, Terrell Suggs, Arizona State, 2002
Terrell Suggs 24 sack mark in 2002 is simply legendary.
To put the number in perspective, consider the fact that only three guys have registered 16 or more sacks since 2006 (Ameer Ismail from Western Michigan with 17 in 2006, Greg Middleton from Indiana had 16 in 2007 and Von Miller from Texas A&M had 17 in 2009).
Even the high water mark of 17 falls seven full sacks short of even tying Terrell Suggs mark.
A guy will have to absolutely go insane in a single season to achieve 24 sacks; over a 13 game season, it means almost two sacks per game.
Total Career Tackles (since 2000)
Current Record: 545, Tim McGarigle, Northwestern, 2002-05
This is another record that will more than likely be broken by a guy who forgoes the NFL draft for his senior season.
Reaching 545 total career tackle mark means posting 136.25 tackles per year over a four year campaign or 181.6 over a three year career. It's important to keep in mind the No. 1 tackler in 2010 posted 183 tackles and the all-time single season record is 193 (see next slide for details).
The perfect candidate to break McGarigle’s 545 career tackles is Luke Kuechly of Boston College. He posted 142 tackles in his freshman season in 2009, followed up with 183 last season as a sophomore and has only 221 remaining to get to go over 545.
Technically Kuechly has two seasons to get it done, but, there is already talk of his place in the 2012 draft which would, of course, mean all bets are off (unless he blasts the single season record with 221 tackles in his junior year).
Single Season Tackles (since 2000)
Current Record: 193, Lawrence Flugence, Texas Tech, 2002
Though it’s odd to see a Red Raiders’ name atop the defensive record book (especially from early in the Mike Leach era), Lawrence Flugence holds the single season tackle record at 193, a mark that has stood for eight seasons.
This record will fall eventually, and with Luke Kuechly from Boston College around for at least another season, it may be sooner than later.
From 2006 to 2009, the top tackler in college football averaged 162 tackles per season until Kuechly posted 183 in 2010 as a sophomore.
Longest Field Goal
Current Record: 67 yards; Joe Williams, Wichita State (vs. Southern Illinois, 1978), Steve Little, Arkansas (vs. Texas, 1977) and Russell Erxleben, Texas (vs. Rice, 1977).
Is this record prestigious? Well, that point is definitely up for debate, but how many times have you watched a guy line up for a long field goal and asked your buddy, “Hey, what’s the record for the longest field goal in history?”
The answer is 67 yards. Three guys are tied for it, and it hasn’t been equaled or beaten since 1978.
Most Consecutive Non-Losing Seasons
Current Record: 49, Penn State, 1939-87
This is a phenomenal record and one that is still attainable.
In the running to knock Penn State out of the top spot in most consecutive non-losing season are Florida State, who has 34 winning seasons between 1977 and 2010, and Florida, who owns a current streak of 31 between 1989 and 2010.
As close as these guys seem to making it to the top, the Seminoles need to go over .500 through 2026 to beat Penn State, and the Gators will have to post winning records until after 2029 for their shot at record books.
Longest Streak of Games without Being Shut Out
Current Record: 361, BYU, 1975-2003
This is another interesting team record, and it is absolutely “prestigious” to go almost 30 seasons without being shut-out.
BYU's 361 game scoring streak ended on November 22, 2003 when they lost 3-0 to Utah in Provo.
Teams that are in the running to catch and surpass BYU include:
Michigan, 336, 1984-present
Florida, 284, 1988-present
TCU, 229, 1992-present
Air Force, 220, 1992-present
Tennessee, 210, 1994-present
The Wolverines need to finish 2011 and 2012 with zero shutouts (given they play 13 games each season) to topple BYU.
This looks like a record that could be beaten and then extended, but just one slip up means it’s back to point A with 30 years to go.