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20 players who can break records in bowl season

David Kenyon
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Beyond the College Football Playoff’s

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Beyond the College Football Playoff, bowls are typically little more than exhibitions. However, the season finale often contributes to records.

Statistics from the contests count toward every player, and several standouts are approaching single-season or career marks.

We’re focused on those loftier goals as opposed to single-game records. Yes, those could be broken, but that’s complete guesswork.

Instead, we’ve identified 20 school and national records with a legitimate chance to be topped — primarily targeting common categories.


Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

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One of the 2018 Heisman Trophy finalists, Tua Tagovailoa already owns the Alabama record for touchdowns. He only needed 11 games to soar beyond A.J. McCarron’s 30 and has since raised that total to 37. Tagovailoa isn’t close to finished, though. Not only is the sophomore just 134 yards from the school’s single-season clip, his 202.3 rating is a contender for the best of all time. Baker Mayfield posted his high of 198.92 last season. Tagovailoa, provided his injured ankles are healthy, will attempt to snatch that record during the College Football Playoff.


Tyree Jackson, QB, Buffalo

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Buffalo’s three blowouts in November — two good, one bad — prevented Tyree Jackson from making a serious run at the single-season passing list. He’d need a remarkable game in the Dollar General Bowl to threaten Drew Willy’s 3,304 yards. Jackson’s mobility, however, has provided a tremendous shot at the target for total offense. Sack yardage dropped Willy’s total to 3,189, and Jackson boosted his output to 3,022 during the MAC Championship Game. Troy’s defense is typically tough, but Jackson only need 168 for the record.


Michael Warren III, RB, Cincinnati

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All he needs is one. Michael Warren III trotted into the end zone 17 times in Cincinnati’s first 10 games, tying the school record. But then, UCF kept the sophomore from scoring, and a shoulder injury sidelined Warren in the regular-season finale. As long as he’s available for the Bearcats in the Military Bowl, he can claim sole possession of the single-season touchdown mark. He would edge past David Small, who scored 17 in 1993. Virginia Tech has surrendered a total of 29 rushing scores this season and at least one in 10 games, so it seems likely to happen.


Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson

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If the College Football Playoff goes as planned for Clemson, Travis Etienne has two games remaining. Still, the speedy sophomore is just 64 yards from Wayne Gallman’s mark set in 2015. This is especially impressive because the Tigers’ dominance in October and November limited Etienne’s late-game involvement. Including the ACC title game, he registered 15-plus carries just four times. That should mean his fresh for Notre Dame, which ranks 33rd in yards allowed per carry. This record may be hard-earned in the Cotton Bowl.


Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State

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Last year, Allen Lazard became the first player in Iowa State history to grab 10 touchdowns in a season. Hakeem Butler enjoyed a front-row seat to that record while scoring seven of his own. Now the featured target for the Cyclones offense, Butler could join his former teammate. He the enters the Alamo Bowl against Washington State with nine touchdowns. Butler, who already owns the single-season yardage record, will face a decent challenge. The Cougs held eight opponents to zero or one passing score. But in the other four games, they ceded 14.


Benny Snell Jr., RB, Kentucky

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During his first two seasons, Benny Snell Jr. cruised past the program record for career touchdowns. As bowl season approaches, the star runner has scored 20 more than any other player in Kentucky history. It’s only fitting that Snell would finish his college days as the No. 1 in rushing yards for the Wildcats. He’s currently 81 yards behind Sonny Collins, who collected 3,835 in the 1970s. Though some NFL-bound players are understandably skipping a bowl, Snell is expected to play against Penn State and its 45th-ranked run defense.


Darrell Henderson, RB, Memphis

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Former NFL running back DeAngelo Williams put together a remarkable career at Memphis. Heading into 2018, he owned the top-three single-season rushing marks. Darrell Henderson has zoomed past 1,430, and now both 1,948 and 1,964 are within sight. Following a 210-yard display in the AAC Championship Game, the junior has amassed 1,909 this season. He’s only 55 short of Williams’ top mark and is a near-lock to smash it. Among power-conference teams, Wake Forest’s 4.9 yards allowed per carry is the 13th-worst average.


Mason Fine, QB, North Texas

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Mason Fine rewrote the record books as a sophomore, and he’s breaking out the pen again. After shattering the previous single-season yardage total of 3,103 with 4,052 last year, the signal-caller has 3,734 so far. Piling up 318 yards is far from a certainty, but he’s surpassed the mark on five occasions this season. Utah State, which awaits in the New Mexico Bowl, has surrendered 300-plus passing yards in four consecutive games. The trend certainly leans in Fine’s favor. Additionally, four touchdowns would match his single-season target of 31.


Clayton Thorson, QB, Northwestern

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It hasn’t always been pretty, but Clayton Thorson is ending his career as the most successful quarterback in Northwestern history. Never before had a signal-caller led a pair of 10-win seasons or trio of eight-win campaigns. He’s poised to become the program’s only quarterback to start four bowl games, so Thorson deserves the all-time passing record. Perhaps it’s fitting he’ll challenge a stout Utah defense in the Holiday Bowl. Ugly or not, as long as Thorson can manage 91 passing yards, he’ll wrap up his Northwestern days on top.


Nathan Rourke, QB, Ohio

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During his first year in Athens, Nathan Rourke climbed the school’s list for total touchdowns in a season. The dual-threat quarterback scored 38, evening the previous mark Tyler Tettleton set in 2011. Despite a slow start to 2018, Rourke is approaching that record once again. He’s accounted for 35 touchdowns, throwing 22 and running for 13. In five of the Bobcats’ last six games, Rourke scored at least three. Although San Diego State will present a stout defense in the Miami Beach Bowl, the recent hot streak could carry him to sole possession of the record.


Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State

Do the Ohio State Buckeyes have the fastest team in college football?

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David Boston’s post-football life is less than admirable, but the former NFL receiver ended his Ohio State career leading nearly every meaningful record. Parris Campbell has a terrific chance to unseat Boston on the single-season receptions chart. Thanks to a seven-catch day in the Big Ten Championship Game, Campbell heads into the Rose Bowl with 79 grabs this season. Boston had 85 in 1998. Washington boasts one of the nation’s best defensive backfields, so Campbell’s propensity for quick-hitting targets may be on full display in Pasadena.


Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma

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One year after Baker Mayfield set a bunch of records, his replacement is doing the same. Fresh off setting the single-season total offense clip, Murray is four touchdowns shy of Oklahoma’s record of 55. He’s thrown 40 and run for 11. Additionally, the baseball-bound quarterback has notched an efficiency rating of 205.7. He leads Tagovailoa, who is ahead of Mayfield’s 198.9. If the Sooners can upset Alabama, Murray could have an opportunity to threaten Sam Bradford’s single-season yardage output of 4,720. Murray currently has 4,053.


Dillon Mitchell, WR, Oregon

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Justin Herbert’s favorite receiver, Dillon Mitchell has twice the receptions and triple the yards of any other Oregon player in 2018. As the Redbox Bowl approaches, he’s nearing the school’s single-season receptions (77) and yardage (1,140) marks. The latter is practically a gimme, since Mitchell has collected 1,114 yards. He’s reeled in 69 passes, so an eight-catch performance would at least tie the record. Mitchell has eight-plus receptions in four games this season, and a tremendous Michigan State run defense will likely force Oregon to rely on the passing game.


Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue

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Head coach Jeff Brohm passed on a chance to take over at his alma mater Louisville. His star player, Rondale Moore, attended high school in the city. Perhaps it’s fitting that the electrifying freshman is likely to give the Boilers another reason to celebrate during the bowl. After setting the single-game all-purpose yardage mark in his debut, Moore is only 73 yards behind Dorien Bryant’s season clip of 2,121. In 12 games, Moore only failed to reach 73 yards once. He’s a relatively safe bet to secure the record in the Music City Bowl.


K.J. Costello, QB, Stanford

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Stanford’s midseason tumble dropped K.J. Costello from the national scene, but he’s quietly had a productive year. Entering the Sun Bowl, the sophomore has recorded seven 300-yard games and is threatening for the school’s single-season yardage target. Costello currently trails 1993 quarterback Steve Stenstrom by 192 yards. Should he accomplish it, Costello will also pass Andrew Luck’s career best of 3,517 along the way. Unless a shoddy running game has a surprise outburst, the Cardinal will lean heavily on Costello’s arm.


JJ Arcega-Whiteside, WR, Stanford

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One of 2018’s breakout superstars, JJ Arcega-Whiteside is on the brink of Stanford’s single-season receiving touchdowns. He currently shares the record with James Lofton, a Pro Football Hall of Famer who caught 14 scores for the Cardinal in 1977. Arcega-Whiteside evened the mark against UCLA but couldn’t crack it at Cal despite cresting 100 yards. Although he’s put together five multi-touchdown games this season, Arcega-Whiteside only needs one. When the Cardinal are in the red zone, Costello will probably be looking for JJ.


Eric Dungey, QB, Syracuse

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Eric Dungey arrived at Syracuse as the program started to head the wrong direction. The Orange mustered a 3-9 record the year before he arrived and finished 4-8 during his freshman campaign. Hiring Dino Babers made all the difference. Three years later, Dungey is 153 yards from standing atop the school’s all-time passing list. Late in the regular season, the senior passed Syracuse legend Donovan McNabb. Next up on the list is Ryan Nassib, and Dungey should have little trouble taking the No. 1 spot in the Camping World Bowl.


Trayveon Williams, RB, Texas A&M

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At risk of burying the lede, Trayveon Williams’ record pursuit is teetering on the edge of reasonable. So far, the speedy running back has collected 1,524 yards. Texas A&M’s single-season target is 1,692 set by Darren Lewis in 1988. But the 168-yard difference is at least within reach, considering Williams has posted 228, 167 and 198 in the Aggies’ last three games. While the Gator Bowl brings a formidable foe in NC State, the Wolfpack will be without leading tackler Germaine Pratt. That might be the advantage Williams needed for an explosive day.


Jordan Love, QB, Utah State

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Although he would’ve preferred a win, Jordan Love tossed a school-record 28th touchdown when Utah State fell to Boise State. The loss cost the Aggies a spot in the Mountain West Championship Game. Nevertheless, the sophomore quarterback can secure the single-season passing yardage mark in the postseason. He ranks fourth with 3,208 yards, but Chuckie Keeton’s record of 3,373 is well within reach. Love has four games of 165 yards or less, so it’s not guaranteed he’ll break it. But that 166th passing yard in the New Mexico Bowl would be enough.


Gardner Minshew, QB, Washington State

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Mike Leach and his Air Raid offense have brought six of the most prolific passing years in school history, and Gardner Minshew is poised to secure a pair of No. 1 spots. During the regular season, the East Carolina transfer racked up 4,477 yards and 36 touchdowns. The standing records are 4,597 and 38, respectively, so Minshew merely needs 121 yards and three scores. Iowa State has a quality defense and kept six opponents below 200 passing yards, but holding the near-Heisman finalist below 121 in the Alamo Bowl would be a remarkable showing.


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