We love records. In the past here at NCAA.com, we have searched the individual sport record books up and down for some of our favorite records we could find (more on that later). But what about sizing up a list of unbreakable records that standout across all of college sports?
The old cliché says records were made to be broken. Except for the following, which may never be matched again in the history of NCAA college sports.
Unbreakable records in college football
Barry Sanders 1988, 2,628-yard college football season
The Oklahoma State Cowboy running back had the single-most dominating season on the ground in the history of college football. He reeled off 238.9 yards per game — also a record likely never to be broken, with Marcus Allen a distant second by 26 yards per game — for the highest single total in a season at 2,628 yards. Sanders had four 300-yard games with at least three touchdowns and totaled 37 TDs.
Oh, one other small note. College football didn’t include bowl games officially a part of season stats until the 2002 season. Sanders actually played a 12th game that season, the Holiday Bowl, in which he ran for 222 yards and five more touchdowns. That’s 2,850 yards in 12 games, ladies and gentlemen.
Here’s how we know the record (probably) won’t be broken. Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor became the 25th rusher to eclipse the 2,000-yard mark in 2018 and fell 434 yards shy of Sanders. In 2007, UCF running back Kevin Smith ran for 2,567 yards, third-most ever, and he did it in three more games and 106 more carries (an NCAA record 450 in a season) and still fell 61 yards shy of Sanders mark. People may come close, but even with more games and rushing attempts, Sanders’ mark is one for the ages.
Andre Ware’s 517-yard passing day (in the first half!) in 1989
The Houston Cougar quarterback took home the Heisman trophy one year after Barry Sanders. He had a monster 1989 season but it was a 95-21 victory over Southern Methodist on Oct. 21 that may stand out as his most memorable game that award-winning year.
Ware threw for 517 yards in that game, with a total of six touchdowns. Now, while there have been plenty who have surpassed that mark since, Ware did it all in the first half. He didn’t play one down in the second half, handing the ball to David Klinger, who threw for 254 more yards in the second half, for a total of 771 passing yards. The 1,021 total yards dropped by the Cougars that day are still the record 30 years later.
Georgia Tech beats Cumberland 222-0 in college football
Does this even need an explanation? This record is over 100 years old. There have been two other schools — King (TN) who scored 206 in 1922 and St. Viator that dropped 205 in the same 1916 season as Georgia Tech — to break the 200-point mark in history. We get excited when a team creeps toward the 100-point barrier, there isn’t a defense in the land that will allow 200.
The 1939 Tennessee football defense
The Volunteers were pretty darn good in 1939. They finished with 10 wins and were a perfect 6-0 in SEC play. There was also something else that was perfect in the 1939 calendar year: the Tennessee defense. Ten games played, nary a point scored on them. It was a streak of 15-straight shutouts that dated back to Nov. 5 of the 1938 season. That Tennessee football team lost that Rose Bowl for its first loss of the season. The final score? Tennessee was blanked 14-0.
Unbreakable records in college basketball
Pistol Pete’s NCAA basketball scoring record
LSU’s Pete Marovich put up scoring records that will never be touched. Whether it’s his single-season mark of 1,381 or career mark of 3,667, it just seems like a near impossibility to see either number touched. In fact, his 1,381 points in 1970 are the most ever, his 1,148 in 1969 are the fourth-most ever and his 1,138 points in 1968 are the fifth-most ever. He averaged a mind-boggling 44.2 points per game over his 83-game, three-year career with the Tigers. To put it in perspective, Chris Clemons of Campbell led DI this past season with an impressive 30.1 points per game. He scored 993 total.
Courtney Paris’ ENTIRE career for Oklahoma women’s basketball
From 2006-2009, Paris was the queen of the boards in NCAA women’s basketball. Though she’s not the single-season record holder, she’s the only player in history with three 500-rebound seasons: 539 in 2006, 526 in 2007, and 503 in 2009. She was the first four-time All-American in the history of the sport and ended her career with 2,500 points and 2,000 rebounds, the first student-athlete to do it at any level and any gender. Obviously, Paris was a master of double-doubles, recording 112 straight, but it’s her career 2,034-rebound record that will likely never be matched.
The winning streaks of Geno Auriemma, John Wooden and Pat Summitt
These three coaches have set marks in the college basketball world that would be quite impressive if anyone ever matched.
- 111: From Nov. 23, 2014, to April 1, 2017, Auriemma and his UConn Huskies reeled off 111-straight wins, 108 of which came by double digits, and two national championships.
- 88: Those vaunted UCLA teams that seemed to forget how to lose between 1971 and 1974 under Wooden’s tutelage took home three national titles over the stretch (closing out a run of seven championships in a row). There has been one undefeated national champion since.
- 38: The Tennessee Volunteers icon put women’s basketball on the map. Summitt coached 38 seasons. Not one of them was a losing record.
Unbreakable records in college baseball
Mike Martin’s 2,029 wins, all at Florida State
Speaking of coaching streaks, Florida State baseball IS Mike Martin. The lovable coach, a fan and coach favorite no matter what uniform they are wearing, is college sports all-time wins leader and the only head coach in any college sport with over 2,000 wins. He spent 40 years in Tallahassee and every single one of them was at least a 40-win season. Like many of the coaches jokingly said at the 2019 College World Series — where Martin picked up career win 2,029 — when they are Martin’s age (75), they’ll be sitting back watching baseball, not coaching it. Martin’s record is in no way in any sort of jeopardy.
LSU baseball’s ridiculous 77-game home run streak
The 2019 New York Yankees recently got the MLB world excited with a power surge that saw them homer in a record 31-straight games. That’s not even half of what LSU accomplished between June 8, 1996, and Feb. 21, 1998.
The Tigers hit at least one home run in a game spanning three different seasons, including all 70 of their 1997 national championship run. The Geauxrilla Ball era was a fun one, as LSU launched an unthinkable 188 home runs in 1997. Vanderbilt set a program record in leading DI baseball with 100 in 2019, just to give you an idea of how many that is.
John Kerr’s incredible doubleheader in the 1962 NCAA baseball regionals
If you watched any of the 2019 College World Series, you know all about the Kerrs by now. Grandfather John pitched for the 1962 national champions, while father Derek was on the early 80s CWS teams, and grandson Jimmy became the first Michigan player to hit two home runs in a CWS game in leading the 2019 Cinderella Wolverines to the CWS finals.
In today’s pitch-count driven era of molding pitchers, what John Kerr accomplished in the 1962 regionals will never be matched. Michigan played two games that day, and Kerr pitched every inning of both of them — 19 total — while throwing an unfathomable 313 pitches. In one day. That’s four starts worth of pitches for some pitchers these days.
More unbreakable records in college sports
Hannah Perryman’s record-setting college softball career
Perhaps you heard the name Nicole Newman quite a bit during the 2019 DI college softball season. Newman set the DI record when she tossed her fifth perfect game of the season. While it’s quite the accomplishment, it’s still one game short of the NCAA single-season record.
Perryman, who spent four years at Division II’s Missouri-St. Louis had a record-setting career in which she struck out 1,725 of 3,757 batters she faced, also a DII record. She also went 30-5 in 2015, with six of those games ending in perfection. Her final 2016 senior season also saw some untouchable records when she struck out a ridiculous 567 batters as she and UIndy’s Morgan Foley — who once struck out 30 batters in a game herself — seemingly went strikeout-for-strikeout for the single-season and all-time strikeout record.
Tracy Compton’s microscopic ERA for UCLA softball
Staying in the circle for softball, how about UCLA ace Tracy Compton? In 1983, Compton hurled 168 innings and allowed one earned run for a 0.04 ERA, the best single-season mark in DI history. Two years later in 1985, Compton allowed two earned runs in 167.3 innings in leading UCLA to the championship, her 0.08 ERA the second-best mark in history. As a freshman in 1982, Compton allowed three whole runs in 101.7 innings for a 0.21 ERA, yet another top 20 mark all-time. She pitched just 85 games, 62 of which were shutouts, which led to a 0.15 career ERA, allowing just 13 runs over 612.3 innings pitched.
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Cael Sanderson’s 159 NCAA wrestling wins
Sanderson’s 159 wins aren’t the all-time mark. He’s not the only wrestler to finish undefeated. But what Sanderson did was borderline insane. The Iowa State superstar recorded all 159 wins without a loss, winning four national championships along the way. Think about that? That’s 40-wins a season, a mark most wrestlers don’t even sniff on today’s schedules. Penn State’s Zain Retherford made waves, finishing his career with 126 wins and going 93-0 over his final three seasons, and is still a far cry from the record. His head coach? Yup, it’s Cael Sanderson.
Thompson Usiyan’s men’s college soccer career point total
It’s usually a strong sign that you have an unbreakable record when your closest competition is yourself. That’s how it happened for Appalachian State’s Thompson, who was a point-scoring machine in his four years of men’s college soccer.
In Usiyan’s final season in 1980, he tallied 6.35 points per game, still the NCAA single-season record, breaking his own mark of 6.00 points per game in 1978. There have been only two instances in which a player averaged six or more points per game in men’s soccer, and those two instances are Thompson Usiyan and Thompson Usiyan. His 49 goals in that 1980 season are also seemingly unattainable, with the next closest player — Wake Forest’s Mark Erwin in 1983 — at 36 goals. His 255 career points are 25 points better than the second-highest mark, making him the greatest offensive men’s college soccer player in the history of the sport.
Mia Hamm’s 1992, 97-point women’s soccer season
The former North Carolina Tar Heels’ name has become synonymous with women’s soccer, and it all started with her collegiate career in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels won a national championship in all four seasons Hamm played without losing a single match, and the 1992 season was arguably her best.
There is only one player to break the 90-point barrier in women’s college soccer history, and it’s Hamm with 32 goals and 33 assists in 1992 as the model of consistency leading the Tar Heel charge. She is one of six players to score 100 career goals (103 to be precise) and finished fourth all-time with 72 assists. Any record that has lasted over 25 years begins to get that unbreakable feeling.
Super fast college hockey and men’s lacrosse goals
Tom Meeker of Clarkson hockey and Jordan Hall of Delaware men’s lacrosse may as well be holding wands instead of sticks. On March 11, 2006, Hall needed just three seconds to score the opening goal for the Blue Hens lacrosse team against Albany. Meeker? On Feb. 12, 1955, Meeker recorded a hat trick for the Clarkston hockey team. … in 15 seconds. He scored more goals in a quarter of a minute than some players score in a season.
More records to savor
As we said, we love the record books. If you like records as much as we do, take a look into some of these:
You can find all the regular-season and championship official NCAA record books at NCAA.org.