Exactly 30 years ago, Oklahoma State running back Barry Sanders was getting ready to embark on a journey to the greatest individual season in college football history that ended with the Heisman Trophy. No player has even come close to topping it since, but Stanford running back Bryce Love sure might try to in 2018.
In a rather shocking move, the Heisman Trophy runner-up last season decided to return to the Stanford Cardinal program for his senior season and enters his final collegiate campaign as a preseason All-American and a favorite to win the 2018 Heisman Trophy.
Love, the nation’s leading returning rusher, is arguably the best running back in college football, which makes him the leading candidate for the annual “Will (Insert Name) Even Come Close to Breaking Barry Sanders’ Records” debate this season after racking up 2,118 yards and 19 touchdowns on 283 carries in 13 games in 2017.
Love, a 5-foot-10, 200-pound track star, is ridiculously good, probably the greatest Stanford running back of all time (sorry, Christian McCaffery). That doesn’t mean he can even sniff what Sanders did during the 1988 season in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
To put it into perspective, Love, who already averaged an insane 163 rushing yards per game to be a unanimous All-American in 2017, would need to average over 55 more yards each game and find the end zone 35 more times than he did one year ago.
Even then, that would mean he would tie Sanders’ records and would have played one more game than the Hall of Fame running back did during his magical season.
That’s absolutely insane.
Since this is the 30-year anniversary of Sanders iconic run to 34 NCAA records, this is the perfect time, or excuse, to explain just how dominant the 5-foot-8 legend from Wichita, Kansas actually was, and forever forget that anyone will ever come close to what he did.
In 1988, the Oklahoma State Cowboys superstar running back compiled 2,850 rushing yards — averaging 237.5 yards per game — and scored 44 total touchdowns.
Sanders was the ultimate cheat code and a human video game at the same time Tecmo Bowl was the newest gaming fad.
Seriously, look at these numbers:
To make the argument even more valid, the best game by a Power 5 running back each week in 2017 didn’t even top what Sanders did all by himself. They were 14 yards and 15 rushing touchdowns short.
Sanders was simply remarkable, a once-in-a-lifetime talent with a once-in-a-lifetime season as part of a once-in-a-lifetime career.
So could Bryce Love, who will undoubtedly have another good season, even come close to breaking Sanders’ records? For those who claim nothing is impossible, sure, but it would take more than a Herculean effort to make it happen.
Even coming close would be an impressive feat.