In advance of the 2019 season, we took a deep dive into the FBS record book and identified some records and historic achievements that we think could be broken and accomplished this season.
Now we’re going in the opposite direction.
Which records are so impressive that we don’t think they’ll ever be broken?
Here they are.
Most all-purpose yards gained in a quarter
Record-holder: 305 yards, Corey Dillon, Washington vs. San Jose State (1996)
The incredible part of this record isn’t just the total, but it’s the fact that it’s not inflated by a couple of long kick or punt returns. Plus, it came in the first quarter, so Dillon was sitting at 222 rushing yards and 83 receiving yards entering the second quarter.
At that point, what do you even tell your unit if you’re a defensive coordinator?
So if this record is ever to be broken, it would probably be accomplished by a player (likely a running back who’s also a returner on special teams) running back a kickoff 90-plus yards and having another one or two return opportunities — on top of having a really productive quarter as a rusher and receiver.
Essentially, it would take three explosive plays of at least 50 yards and probably 10 to 15 touches in the quarter to surpass Dillon’s mark. That’s why we don’t think it’ll be broken.
Most consecutive passes completed for touchdowns
Record-holder: 6, Brooks Dawson, UTEP vs. New Mexico (1967)
The fun fact about this record is that Dawson set this record to start that game. So at one point, Dawson’s stat line was 6-for-6 with six touchdowns. Those are video game numbers.
Most consecutive passes intercepted
Record-holder: 4, Denard Robinson, Michigan vs. Notre Dame (2012)
Four interceptions in a game is a huge number and a total that could lead to a temporary benching if not a permanent change at quarterback. Now imagine not just four interceptions in a game and not just four interceptions on consecutive possessions but four interceptions on consecutive attempts.
Odds are a quarterback gets pulled after the third one, right?
Not if you’re Denard Robinson, who set this notorious record against the Fighting Irish back in 2012.
Most punt yards in a game
Record-holder: 1,318 yards, Charlie Calhoun, Texas Tech vs. Centenary (LA) (1939)
Calhoun punted 36 (!) times in Texas Tech’s game against Centenary. It’s unlikely in a given college football game that a team will even possess the ball half that number of times, and it’s even more unlikely that all those possessions would end in a punt.
Luckily for TV execs and fans of the sport, football has evolved where this record will likely never be in danger of being broken.
Record-holder: 99 yards, Pat Brady, Nevada vs. Loyola Marymount (1950)
Beyond the near-impossible physics regarding the difficulty of punting a football 99 yards, there’s no way for a punt to travel more than 99 yards without being a touchback, so this is a rare record that has been maxed out.
It can (theoretically) be tied, but it can’t be topped.
Consecutive games with a kick return touchdown
Record-holder: 4, Ashlan Davis, Tulsa (2004)
Returning four kickoffs for a touchdown over the course of a college career is pretty admirable for a kick returner. Returning four in a season likely sends a returner to first-team all-conference honors on special teams and maybe even All-American status.
Scoring on a kick return in four consecutive games is rarified air for return men, and there’s a good chance that after a streak gets to two or three games, opposing kickoff specialists will start kicking away from the returner or electing to go with a squib kick.
But it didn’t stop Tulsa’s Ashlan Davis in the early aughts.
Scoring a touchdown on your team’s opening kickoff in two consecutive seasons
Record-holder: Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State (1987-88)
Barry Sanders was a different kind of special and this is a record that only someone of his legendary status could have on his resume. The fact that both kick returns were 100 yards makes it even more impressive.
Imagine it’s the day of your season opener, and after months of training camp, spring practice and offseason weight training, you take it to the house the first time your team gets the ball.
Now imagine doing that two seasons in a row.
That’s what Barry Sanders did.
Most combined fumbles in a game
Record-holders: 27, Wichita State (17) vs. Florida State (10), 1969
27 fumbles in a matchup is more than there are in a typical game of greased watermelon polo in a community swimming pool on the 4th of July.
It’s what happens if you adjust your “Madden” settings so that the fumble slider is on 99.
It’s like playing “NFL Street,” but the defense always has Gamebreaker activated.
OK, you get the point. We will never see a game with 28 fumbles.
Fewest first downs by a winning team
Record-holder: 0, NC State vs. Virginia (1944); Michigan vs. Ohio State (1950)
It’s hard to even imagine how NC State beat Virginia 13-0 or Michigan defeated Ohio State 9-3.
Actually, it’s pretty tough to fathom Michigan beating Ohio State at all.
Jokes aside, imagine scoring on one or two big plays, or using great field position from a turnover or long return to score with a short field, but your team’s offense never moves the chains.
Not once. Not even from a penalty!
Like several records on this list, it can be tied, but it can never be topped.
Fewest pass yards allowed
Record-holder: -16, VMI vs. Richmond (1957; two completions)
This is pretty self-explanatory.
It’s not just a defense hounding the opposing quarterback and forcing a high percentage of incompletions, but for the net yardage to be minus-16 is pretty incredible and given the way football has embraced the passing game since VMI’s defensive performance against Richmond in 1957, it’s unlikely that a team will ever have fewer passing yards in a game.
Most combined punts in a game
Record-holders: 77, Texas Tech (39) vs. Centenary (LA) (38) (1939)
We already referenced this game with Charlie Calhoun’s 1,318 single-game punting yards record. Well guess what, Calhoun’s 36 punts didn’t even make up half of the number of total punts in the game.
Here’s how this one happened, according to the FBS record book:
The game was played in a heavy downpour in Shreveport, Louisiana. 42 punts were returned, 19 went out of bounds, 10 were downed, 1 went into the end zone for a touchback, 4 were blocked and 1 was fair caught. 67 punts [34 by Texas Tech and 33 by Centenary] occurred on first-down plays, including 22 consecutively in the third and fourth quarters. The game was a scoreless tie.
And there you have it. Imagine the state of football in the ’30s (as well as the state of weather in Shreveport that day) that both coaches decided it was a tactical advantage to punt on first down and the two teams simply traded punts on 22 consecutive plays in the second half.
Fewest points allowed per game
Record-holders: 0.0, Duke (1938; nine games); Tennessee (1939; 10 games)
Here’s yet another record that can’t be broken because a scoring defense can’t get any better than zero points per game over the course of a season. It’s almost impossible to imagine a team coming even close to this record — say, within six or seven points — in the modern era of college football.
Clemson, the reigning national champion whose defensive line was full of future NFL players, led the country with a 13.1 points allowed per game average last season.
In the last 10 seasons, 2011 Alabama has the best scoring defense at 8.2 points allowed per game, so even a historically great defense will allow more than a touchdown per game, on average.
Most consecutive passes caught for touchdowns
Record-holder: 6, Carlos Carson, LSU (1977; first receptions of career); Gerald Armstrong, Nebraska (1992)
It feels like it would require someone in a role like current Tennessee Titans Head Coach and former New England Patriots LB Mike Vrabel to break this record. Vrabel occasionally lined up on offense for the Patriots on the goal line, catching 10 of his 14 targets in his career for 10 touchdowns (postseason not included). Those 10 receptions were for a total of 14 yards, so he had a very specific role on offense.
While there’s no questioning the elite play-making ability of returning wide receivers like Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy, Oklahoma State’s Tylan Wallace and Purdue’s Rondale Moore, it’s highly unlikely they’d be able to pull off this feat. So it might actually be more likely that a non-wide receiver would break one of the most impressive receiving records as a player who’s used in a Vrabel-esque goal line or red zone role where any reception would almost certainly be for a touchdown.