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August 18, 2022 5 min read

The 2022 college football season is upon us and like every year, there is plenty to look forward to. The Heisman watch is well underway. In fact, ESPN has had the 2022 Heisman watch list put together since December of last year! This of course, means little. Rarely does the college football season play out as predicted. Sometimes a record-breaking season is looming, but even those require healthy and productive players/teams. What makes this year slightly more interesting is that players are taking advantage of the extra year of eligibility given to them post Covid. The list of records that could be broken soon is far shorter than the list that may never be broken. Here are a few of both, along with a running list of the running backs who have set the pace for years to come.

Records to Watch

University of Michigan remains at the top of the all-time wins list with 976 wins. “They will be looking to be the first program to hit 1,000 wins, but that likely won’t happen until early in the 2024 [season] unless the Wolverines make a national title run this year or next.” Alabama and Ohio State are closing in at 942 wins apiece.

“Coastal Carolina’s Grayson McCall is in position to take over the top overall spot in NCAA history in both Passing Yards per Attempt (y/a) and Adjusted Passing Yards per Attempt (Ay/a). He currently trails Mac Jones (11.01 Y/A) with 10.88 yards per attempt and Tua Tagovailoa (12.7 Ay/a) with 12.5 Ay/A. Using 200 pass attempts as a marker, McCall needs about 11.37 y/a this season to take over the top spot for both categories.”

Rushing Leaders

A record that doesn’t appear to be in jeopardy this year is all-time rushing leader, a stat that has been confused by a NCAA rule change back in 2002. Wisconsin RB Ron Dayne is generally considered the all-time rushing leader with 7,125 career yards, but some of those yards came in bowl games. When Dayne was playing in the late 90s, bowl game yards weren’t counted, so he’s “officially” rushed for 6,397 yards. That means that the “official” career rushing yards leader is San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey. Pumphrey rushed for 6,405 yards, but that includes bowl games, which are included in his stats because he played after the rule change. Once again, the NCAA complicated matters.

Dayne set the rushing record in a home game against Iowa in 1999, breaking a record that had been set barely a year earlier by Ricky Williams. Williams went on to win the Heisman in 1998. His 6,279 career rushing yards were widely celebrated at the time. Not only was Williams a thrill to watch play, It had been 22 years since the rushing record was previously broken. A young man named Tony Dorsett led the Pitt Panthers to a national championship in 1976. In addition to a career 6,082 rushing yards in Pittsburgh, he enjoyed quite the pro career to go with that lengthy stretch with the all-time rushing crown.

It's notable that Dayne isn’t the only Badger running back to leave his mark. Wisconsin has three players in the top 20 among all-time D-1 rushing leaders; Ron Dayne (7,125, 1996-99), Johnathan Taylor (6,174, 2017-20), Montee Ball (5,140, 2009-12). There’s also a guy named Alan Ameche. “The Iron Horse” previously set the all-time rushing record, but back in 1954.

All Purpose Yards Leader

Another record not currently in jeopardy is the all-time NCAA record for All-Purpose yards currently held by Brian Westbrook of Villanova. The versatile running back amassed 9,512 yards in his career at Villanova. In 46 career games, he scored 543 points with 84 touchdowns, carried the ball for 4,298 yards, caught 219 passes for 2,582 yards and gained 2,289 yards and four touchdowns on kickoff returns. Westbrook became the only player in 1-AA history to score 160 or more points twice in a career and the first player in the history of college football at any level with1,000 rushing and 1,000 receiving yards in one season (1989)

Records that will be hard to break:

Fewest Rushing yards allowed per game – Penn State 17 yards per game – 1947. Amazing to think that Nittany Lion defense allowed only 153 rushing yards TOTAL, in nine games that season.

Can’t imagine someone breaking Glenn Davis’ NCAA record for most yards per carry in a career – 8.3 yards. Davis won the Heisman as a senior at West Point in 1946 after Army’s third consecutive national championship. Davis was nicknamed “Mr. Outside” while fullback Doc Blanchard was “Mr. Inside”. They are regarded by some as the best backfield in college football history.

Useless trivia note:Glenn Davis was married to Yvonne when he died in in 2005. Yvonne may hold a record of her own with three Heismans in the family. Before Davis, Yvonne was married to the aforementioned Ameche. The former fullback out of University of Wisconsin won the Heisman in 1954. The third Heisman came via her daughter, Catherine Ameche Cappelletti, who's married to Michael Cappelletti, brother of John Cappelletti, 1973 Heisman Trophy winner out of Penn State.

But I digress.

Another that will likely never be broken – the 1971 Oklahoma Sooners team averaged a whopping 472.4 yards rushing per game! The offense, led by then coordinator Barry Switzer, scored at least 30 points in every game but one and at least 40 points, seven times. They finished the season 11-1, losing to Nebraska on Thanksgiving Day.

Before John Reaves was the Philadelphia Eagles first round draft pick in 1972, he was a QB at University of Florida. Reaves threw for 7,549 yards in his college career, which was an NCAA record at the time. He also broke another record, one he holds to this day… most interceptions thrown in a game. Reaves threw 9 picks vs. Auburn on Nov 1, 1969.

Let’s finish with a doozy. The record for the largest margin of victory in a game was set way back in 1916 by Georgia Tech when they defeated Cumberland (Tenn) 222-0. It’s quite the story: “John Heisman was Tech's coach, and there's no question he ran up the score on a vastly overmatched team. Cumberland had decided not to field a team in 1916, but there nevertheless was a signed contract for a game. Tech officials said they would call off the game -- if Cumberland paid a $3,000 cancellation fee. Instead, Cumberland -- which received a $500 guarantee for playing -- decided to go ahead with the game. Cumberland showed up with 13 players; three members of the team missed the train after a layover in Nashville, about a 30-minute train ride from Cumberland's campus in Lebanon, Tenn. Tech led 63-0 after one quarter, 126-0 at halftime and 180-0 at the end of three quarters. The second half was shortened to 15 minutes (Heisman's one concession to the overmatched opponent, apparently). Neither team made a first down: Tech scored on every possession and seldom needed more than two or three plays to score.”

Here’s to a great 2022 college football season. May there be many memories made again this year… and maybe some broken records, after all.