Navy seems to be enjoying their first year as a member of the American Athletic Conference. The Midshipmen have already secured two victories in conference play, including yesterday’s 28-13 victory against Connecticut. As is typically the case, Navy’s success starts with the performance of quarterback Keenan Reynolds, who continues to be moving closer to making some NCAA history more commonly reserved for running backs.
Reynolds rushed for three touchdowns in Navy’s win this weekend, giving Reynolds 73 career rushing touchdowns. That puts him just four touchdown runs away from tying the NCAA’s all-time rushing TD record of 77, currently held by former Wisconsin running back Montee Ball. Reynolds is also easily on pace to set a Division 1 career rushing touchdown record as well. Among all Division one programs, Georgia Southern’s Adrian Peterson (must be something with that name) had 84 career rushing touchdowns between 2004 and 2006.
Reynolds may be too far removed from the NCAA all-division career rushing touchdown mark, which is 125 career rushing touchdowns. That belongs to Mount Union’s Nate Kmic, between 2005 and 2008. The Division 2 record is owned by Germaine Race of Pittsburg State (2003-2006).
Reynolds already owns the NCAA FBS record for most career rushing attempts by a quarterback, most career rushing touchdowns by a quarterback, most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a season, and most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a single game.
This week Reynolds and Navy host Air Force. Last season Reynolds rushed for just 27 yards and one touchdown on 21 rushing attempts against the rival service academy. He did rush for three touchdowns against Air Force in 2013, the last time Navy hosted the Falcons.
Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon set a new FBS single-game rushing record by running for 408 yards (in three quarters!) against Nebraska Saturday. Gordon, now likely among the top Heisman Trophy candidates, sits just 91 yards away from becoming the 17th player in college football history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. Gordon could also be on the cusp of some even more significant history; the all-time single-season rushing record.
Barry Sanders still holds the all-time single-season FBS rushing record of 2,628 rushing yards during his 1988 Heisman Trophy season. Of course, Sanders piled up his stats in just 11 games. The official NCAA record book does not include the 222 rushing yards Sanders racked up against Wyoming in the 1988 Holiday Bowl victory over Wyoming either. Including those yards, Sanders actually rushed for 2,850 yards in 1988 in 12 games. The official NCAA all-division single season rushing record is held by Mount Union’s Nate Kmic, who rushed for 2,790 yards over a 15-game season.
Gordon receives the benefit of having postseason games count in the NCAA record book, something the NCAA decided to start doing in 2002. The NCAA has never decided to go back and retroactively count postseason stats, which is rather silly. With Wisconsin now in a decent position to play in the Big Ten Championship Game, Gordon could have four more games to accumulate rushing yards. At the rate Gordon is running, history could very likely be made.
Gordon is averaging 190.9 rushing yards per game. If Gordon continues on that pace, he would end the season with 2,672.6 rushing yards at the end of the bowl season. That would set the new NCAA record according to the record book. Regardless of how many games are counted toward the record, we are not in unrealistic territory.
Next up for Gordon and Wisconsin is Iowa. The Hawkeyes shut down the Illinois running game this weekend, but Iowa was gashed for 291 rushing yards by Minnesota the previous week. Minnesota is Wisconsin’s finale opponent during the regular season. The Gophers just gave up 289 rushing yards to Ohio State.
Getting to 3,000 rushing yards is quite a stretch, but setting a new single-season rushing record is within realistic reach. And setting records is what Wisconsin running backs have a knack for doing.