Barry The Great
By Scoop Fox
The number 25 is a number we are all too familiar with in the month of December. But at the same time, this year marks a very special year in college football history. In this month, 25 years ago the college football world saw what many have proclaimed to be the best college football season anybody could. It was 25 years ago that one Barry Sanders showed everybody a skill set that nobody, even to this day, could ever replicate.
We all remember Barry Sanders for his career in the NFL. He played 10 years, all with the Detroit Lions, and rushed for 15,269 yards (3rd all-time) on 3,062 carries for 99 touchdowns, including a 1997 season where he rushed for 2,053 (4th highest single-season mark). Barry was also famous for his agility and finesse, able to stop on a dime and make a devastating cutback that made defenders look foolish.
Here's the kicker that makes Barry's '88 season even more mind boggling. The average point difference in OSU's games was 20.25 ppg during their 10-2 season. So when the fourth quarter started, Barry was already resting on the sidelines in a majority of those games. Just think about it: 31 carries for 239 yards and 3 TDs in only three quarters of play when most college running backs hit those numbers after four quarters.
Naturally, Barry was recognized for his stellar year. He won the Walter Camp Player of the Year award (for most outstanding player), the Maxwell Award (for player of the year), and was a Consensus 1st Team All-America. In the '88 Heisman Trophy votes, there was no contest. Barry Sanders took the highly-covenant trophy home with him. In the voting tally, he received 559 1st place votes, nearly 8 times the amount the 2nd place University of Southern California QB Rodney Pete (70). Barry also doubled Rodney's point total in the Heisman Trophy standings, 1,878 to 912.
Much has changed in 25 years since Barry won the Heisman. Nowadays all the rage in college football is quarterbacks, quarterbacks, and, oh yes, quarterbacks. Very rarely do we see running backs put up tremendous rushing statistics or even have a fighting chance in the Heisman Trophy race. But for those who were able to watch Barry Sander's '88 college football season can tell you that they witnessed greatness that has never been matched or surpassed. It might take another 25 years for somebody to come close to those marks, but there will never be anybody that could overtake #21.
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