No matter the disappointing outcome of Saturday night's 60-59 loss to California, one thing is undeniable: WSU's Connor Halliday turned the greatest passing performance ever seen in major college football when he threw for 734 yards -- yes, in one game -- against the Golden Bears.
Houston's David Klingler held the previous record of 716 yards for nearly 24 years.
The entirety of the numbers are staggering: 734 yards on 49-of-70 passing (70 percent), 10.5 yards per attempt, six touchdowns, zero interceptions. To put that in context, there are 11 teams in FBS who haven't thrown for 734 yards this entire season.
The thing that I always find interesting about single-game records is that it usually takes a crazy confluence of events for them to happen. In Halliday's case, it was a perfect storm created by a close game against a terrible defense that has a propensity to give up big plays plus a couple of kickoff returns. The latter two factors resulted in extra possessions for the WSU offense, which Halliday made the most of.
As you know, though, this isn't a one-off. Halliday has now thrown for 3,052 yards this season; only two other QBs have even eclipsed 2,000, and Halliday is nearly 900 yards clear of the next closest player, Western Kentucky's Brandon Doughty. The greatest passing season in WSU history before the Air Raid came along was Ryan Leaf's 3,968 in 1997. He did that in 12 games; Halliday has eclipsed 75 percent of that in six. He also has thrown 26 touchdowns, four clear of his foil last night, Cal's Jared Goff.
This is special, even in the context of Air Raid QBs. No Leach QB has thrown for more yards through six games:
With that, let's take another look at the single-season and career passing records that remain squarely in Halliday's crosshairs after last night's epic performance. It won't reduce the sting of last night's loss, but perhaps it will give a reason to half-heartedly smile. Especially since the road is about to get tougher with Stanford's defense on tap.
Because Halliday and his receivers -- who were open and making plays all night long -- deserve to be recognized right about now.
Thanks again to Kirt Onthank for the graphs, and remember that this uses linear regression rather than simple extrapolation for the projections; this reduces the effects of outlier performances.
Pac-12 single-season yardage record: Sean Mannion - 4,662
Halliday remains on pace to shatter the Pac-12 single season record -- he's got just over 1,600 yards to go with (at least?) six games remaining -- and remains on pace to break Sean Mannion's record at Oregon State in about a month. The new development here is that Halliday is now on pace to break B.J. Symons' NCAA record without the help of a 13th game.
Pac-12 career yardage record: Matt Barkley - 12,327 yards
This is where you see the biggest difference. Halliday has really narrowed the gap between himself and Mannion, who seemed a foregone conclusion to be the career Pac-12 yardage record holder at the end of the season. That's no longer the case now that Halliday has thrown for more than twice as many yards this season than Mannion, who has mustered just 1,304 yards in five games. Whether he'll pick up the pace remains to be seen, but it should be noted he's not throwing to Brandin Cooks anymore.
Pac-12 single-season touchdown record: Matt Barkley - 39
Interestingly, Halliday actually lost a little ground on Goff last night. That's because despite his overall lead, he's played one more game than Goff, who had five touchdowns against WSU.
Here's an explanation from Kirt:
Despite Goff throwing for fewer TDs than Halliday he gained distance on Halliday in final projected TDs. This is a consequence of how I am projecting, which, to anthropomorphize a bit, doesn't like either Halliday or Goff to keep up the pace of the last couple weeks. Simple extrapolation would actually have Goff further ahead of Halliday. Goff, having two more TDs through five games, would be a nearly 5 TD advantage for Goff over the full season, but his TD production has also been more uneven than Halliday's over the course of the season, dragging down his projection. 5 TDs last night helped Goff's projection by providing more evidence that he can keep the pace up, so to speak.
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