In advance of the 2019 season, we went through the official NCAA record book and identified some records – single-game, single-season and career – that could potentially be broken this season.
For each record selected, we identified a player who could etch his name into the record book this fall.
Most Rushing Yards Gained in a Career
Record-holder: Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego State: 6,405 yards
Challenger: Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin: 4,171 yards
We’ll call this the Luke Kuechly-level of fast tracking your way to the record books. Kuechly had 532 tackles in three seasons at Boston College, leaving him just 14 tackles shy of the all-time career tackling record.
So if he had returned for his senior season, he would’ve set the career tackle record by somewhere in the neighborhood of 170 to 190 tackles.
Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor needs 2,235 yards to set a new FBS career rushing record, which is certainly a lofty mark, but he ran for 2,194 last season (the seventh-most ever in FBS history) for an 8-5 Badgers team that ranked 119th in passing offense.
If Jack Coan can be an improvement over Alex Hornibrook at quarterback, that could prevent defenses from loading the box to stop Taylor. Even if Coan can take better care of the ball than Hornibrook (11 interceptions in nine games in 2018), that would allow the Badgers to extend more drives, hence more carries for Taylor.
Highest Passing Efficiency Rating in a Career
Record-holder (min. 325 completions): Kyler Murray, Oklahoma & Texas A&M: 181.3
Challenger: Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama: 195.1
This almost feels like an inevitability, and while it won’t make up for Murray winning the 2018 Heisman Trophy over Tagovailoa, there would be some irony in the Alabama quarterback breaking Murray’s record one year later.
Tagovailoa needs just 31 more completions to reach the necessary 325-completion cut-off, which shouldn’t take him more than two games. Given how Alabama’s season ended against Clemson in the College Football Playoff national championship, backup Jalen Hurts now playing for Oklahoma and Tagovailoa likely only having one more chance to win the Heisman (assuming he leaves school after the season), there are several reasons to believe the Crimson Tide, its coach and quarterback will be as motivated and have as much opportunity as ever to put up big numbers on offense this fall.
It doesn’t hurt that his top three receivers return and four of his top five, including reigning Biletnikoff Award winner Jerry Jeudy, returned to Tuscaloosa to give Tagovailoa one of the best receiver corps in the country.
Team Having a 3,000-yard Passer, 2,000-yard Rusher and Two 1,000-yard Receivers in the Same Season
Record-holder: 2007 Rutgers – Mike Teel (3,147 passer), Ray Rice (2,012 rusher), Kenny Britt (1,232 receiver) and Tiquan Underwood (1,100 receiver)
Challenger: 2019 Clemson – Trevor Lawrence (3,280 passer in 2018), Travis Etienne (1,658 rusher in 2018), Justyn Ross (1,000 receiver in 2018), Tee Higgins (936 receiver in 2018)
Man, it’s weird seeing Rutgers holding a (positive) college football record.
This isn’t so much a record as it is a really exclusive club and it’s one that the Scarlet Knights barely founded as Ray Rice eclipsed 2,000 yards rushing by only 12 yards in 2007.
It’s the 2,000-yard rusher that’s the hardest of the four criteria to accomplish and it’s the one that will likely keep 2018 Clemson from joining 2007 Rutgers.
And that’s no knock on Travis Etienne. It’s just that rushing for 2,000 yards is a really difficult feat, especially on a team as deep and dominant as the Tigers, who will want to keep their starters fresh and healthy and give snaps to second and third-string players when games get out of hand this fall.
As long as Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is healthy, he’ll surpass 3,000 yards passing. You’d assume Justyn Ross’ role will significantly increase after he was a backup as a freshman who blew up in the College Football Playoff. It’s not hard to envision Tee Higgins being a 1,000-yard receiver as well.
Most Field Goals Made
Record-holder: Billy Bennett, Georgia: 31
Challenger: Andre Szmyt, Syracuse (30 in 2018)
As a redshirt freshman, Syracuse kicker Andre Szmyt won the Lou Groza Award, which is given to the nation’s top kicker, after he converted on 30-of-34 field goal attempts and all 61 of his PATs. He needed just two more makes to set the FBS record and it may have been an issue of attempts, rather than makes, that kept him from setting the record.
Georgia’s Billy Bennett needed 38 attempts to make 31 field goals in 2003.
With the graduation of quarterback Eric Dungey, Szmyt could actually get more attempts in 2019 if the Syracuse offense can’t move the ball as well in the red zone with Tommy DeVito under center.
Rushed for 40 Touchdowns and Passed for 40 Touchdowns
Challenger: Sam Ehlinger, Texas
Only 15 players have joined the career 40-40 club, most recently Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald last season. Unless Sam Ehlinger dominates Texas’ red zone offense with his legs, it’s unlikely – but not impossible – that he could join this elite group this fall. If he doesn’t, he absolutely will in 2020.
The Longhorns’ signal-caller enters the season with 36 career passing touchdowns and 18 career rushing touchdowns in two seasons. It may not take him more than two games to crack the career 40 passing touchdown mark and he’d need 22 rushing touchdowns this fall to reach 40 for his career.
That’s certainly a big number, especially for a quarterback, but he had a team-high 16 rushing touchdowns last season and if Texas plays 14 games this season like it did last season, he’d only need to average roughly 1.5 rushing touchdowns per game to get there.
He averaged 1.4 over the final nine games last fall and he ran for three scores against Oklahoma and Georgia, so there’s a non-zero chance he gets there this fall.
Most Consecutive Games Scoring Two or More Touchdowns
Record-holder: Montee Ball, Wisconsin: 13 (2011)
Challenger: Travis Etienne, Clemson
Etienne led the FBS with 26 touchdowns from scrimmage last season so the production and potential is there. Now it’s just a matter of consistency of multiple touchdowns.
His longest streak last season of scoring at least two touchdowns was just four games.
But he had a few really productive games, like eight rushes for 153 yards and one touchdown against Louisville and 14 carries for 109 yards and one touchdown against Notre Dame, which would’ve prevented him from tying or breaking Montee Ball’s record.
Similar to Clemson’s 3,000-yard passer/2,000-yard rusher/two 1,000-yard receiver pursuit, the “issue” of the Tigers’ dominance and depth could prevent Etienne from scoring at least two touchdowns in 13 or 14 consecutive games. If Clemson builds a big lead at halftime, he may not see much action after halftime.
Plus, there are a lot of mouths to feed, metaphorically, for the defending national champions. Even with Etienne rushing for 24 touchdowns last season, three other backs ran for at least five touchdowns, so it’s not like he’ll have a monopoly at the position. But if anyone in the country is capable of scoring multiple touchdowns in at least 13 consecutive games, Etienne seems like the best bet.