The Greatest Season By An NCAA Running Back: 1988 - Barry Sanders


On July 1, 2020, we listed the Top 10 NFL Running Backs of All-Time and at number three, Barry Sanders found himself only behind Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton. Sanders didn't enter the NFL scene as an unknown running back. He was selected No. 3 overall in the 1989 NFL draft out of Oklahoma State University.


Sanders' 1988 season as the Cowboys' running back is considered one of the greatest individual seasons in college football history and the gold standard for college FBS running backs. No. 21 for OSU won six NCAA awards in the 1988 season, in addition, He set 34 NCAA Division 1 FBS records in his college career and currently still retains six records 32-years later.


Sanders Won the 1988 Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Award, the Walter Camp Award, was a unanimous All-American, the Big Eight Offensive Player of the Year and First-team All-Big Eight.


Sanders currently still retains the most rushing yards in a single season (2,628), the most rushing touchdowns in a season (37), the most touchdowns in a season 39 (tied with Montee Ball of Wisconsin), the most games rushing for 300+ yards in a season and career (4), the highest average rushing yards per game in a season (238.9) and most points scored in a season (234).

During his first two seasons at OSU Barry Sanders backed up All-American Thurman Thomas. Even though he didn't start, Sanders played in eight games his freshman season and 12 in his sophomore campaign. After Thomas went on to the NFL, Sanders took over, starting in all 12 games.


The NCAA doesn't include Bowl game stats in the season total. So, in actuality, Sanders rushed for a total of 2,850 yards and scored 42 touchdowns in the 1988 season.


The Oklahoma State Cowboys finished the 1988 season with a 10-2 record and ranked No. 11 in the final Associated Press poll.


Barry Sanders is considered one of the Greatest colligate running back of all-time. He is also a College and Pro Football Hall of Fame Running Back.


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