When the Southeastern Conference went to a league-only regular-season schedule in 2020, it was pretty much assumed that most of the record chases that this year's Alabama players were poised to chase would be unreachable. There wouldn't be enough games, and the competition too formidable.
Well, that was a stupid notion.
Alabama's offense has been so prolific that redshirt junior quarterback Mac Jones is considered a strong contender for both the Heisman Trophy and the Davey O'Brien Award (which has never been won by a Crimson Tide player).
Senior wide receiver DeVonta Smith has to be the frontrunner for the Biletnikoff Award for the best receiver in college football.
Senior running back Najee Harris is in the running for the Doak Walker Award (pun intended).
Records have already started to fall. Consider:
• Jones set the Alabama mark for most consecutive completions with 19 during the Oct. 17 game against Georgia and at Tennessee a week later. He also had a streak of 13 against Texas A&M and Ole Miss.
• His four passing touchdowns of 85 yards or more set an Alabama career record.
• Smith set both the Alabama and SEC record with his 32nd career touchdown reception during the second quarter of the Kentucky game on Nov. 21. He's added to that total, and has 35 heading into the LSU game.
• Harris scoring a rushing touchdown in 12 straight games wasn't a record, but was impressive. It was the third-longest streak in SEC history two shy of Tim Tebow (14, 2006-07) for second. Derrick Henry holds both the school and league record at 20.
All three may just be getting started, although no one knows how many more games Alabama will play this season. There are two more regular season games on the schedule followed by the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta on Dec. 19 (should the Crimson Tide not collapse). After that there's either a bowl game or the College Football Playoff, which could include two games.
Consequently, the highly-unlikely minimum of games yet to play is two (which would require both regular-season games to be canceled), with the maximum of five.
Here's a look at some of the high-profile records they have a shot at, including some that seemed way out of reach this season:
Completion percentage: The Alabama single-season mark, minimum 200 completions, is Greg McElroy at 70.9 percent in 2010. Tua Tagovailoa was on pace to top that last year at 71.4 percent, but only had 180 completions. Jones is at 76.2 percent.
400-yard games: Jones has topped 400 yards three times this season, trying Tagovailoa's mark last season. The SEC record is four: Tim Couch (1998), Johnny Manziel (2013) and Joe Burrow (2019).
Passer efficiency: Jones is third in the NCAA in passing efficiency with a 210.3 rating, but the two quarterbacks ahead of him have only played in three games each. Kaleb Eleby of Western Michigan has a 240.40 rating, while Justin Fields of Ohio State is at 222.40. According to the NCAA record book the minimum standard is 15 attempts per game. Burrow set the record last year at 202.0.
Passer efficiency career: Jones has a career efficiency rating of 197.9. Tua Tagovailoa set the career mark last year at 199.4. Jones would need 325 completions to qualify and he's at 275. He's averaging 21.6 per game this season, he would only need three more games to be on the all-time list.
Single-season receptions: Smith has 72, already a career-best, while Amari Cooper holds the Alabama record of 124 (2014). Smith is averaging nine receptions per game. If he did over five games Smith would be four short at 120.
Single-season receiving yards: Smith has 1,074 yards, while Cooper has the record at 1,727. At his current average of 134.25 yards per game he would accumulate 671 over five games, giving him 1,745 and the record.
Single-season touchdown receptions: Smith has 12. Cooper holds the record with 16. Smith's on pace to top him in three games.
Career receptions: Smith has 190, while Cooper had 228 catches from 2012-14. Smith is on pace to surpass him late in the first quarter of the fifth game.
Career receiving yards: Smith is already second on the all-time list with 3,183 yards, and is closing fast on Cooper's 3,463. He's on pace to be the Crimson Tide's all-time leader during the first quarter of the third game.
Career 100-yard receiving games: Cooper holds the record with 14. Smith has five this season, and 10 for his career.
Career rushing yards: Alabama’s all-time rushing king is Henry with 3,591 yards from 2013-15. Harris has 3,270. He's averaging 111.6 rushing yards per game this season, which means he's on pace to break the record near the end of the third game.
Single-season rushing touchdowns: Harris has 17, and with five additional games is on pace for 27.6. Henry had 28 in 2015.
Career rushing touchdowns: Mark Ingram II (2008-10) and Henry share the Crimson Tide record of 42, one ahead of Shaun Alexander (1996-99). Harris is already fourth at 37. He's on pace to top them in three games.
More on the Heisman ...
Oddsmakers are beginning to call the Heisman a two-person race between Florida quarterback Kyle Trask and Jones, with Fields and Clemson's Trevor Lawrence the only ones who can bridge the gap, and Smith the top contender among non-quarterbacks.
Considering the disparity in the number of games played by the teams involved, average-, percentage- and rating-based statistical categories figure to get extra attention.
Passing efficiency (which is how the NCAA determines its passing champion): Fields is second nationally (222.40), Jones is third (210.30), Trask is sixth (197.50), Lawrence is 13th (178.60).
Completion percentage: Fields is first (86.7 percent), Jones is second (78.5), Lawrence is ninth (70.7) and Trask is 10th (70.1).
Passing yards per game: Jones is third (366.0), Trask fourth (361.8), Lawrence 12th (305.5), Fields 14th (302.7).
Total offense: Trask is third (374.8), Jones fourth (364.5), Fields 15th (321.7), Lawrence 17th (317.3).
Working against Fields and Lawrence is time missed. Ohio State can't get on the field and the Clemson quarterback was sidelined after testing positive for the coronavirus plus the Florida State game was canceled.
Neither has much of a Heisman moment, either. While the Buckeyes have faced two ranked teams, Lawrence's most high-profile game was against Miami way back on Oct. 10.
While the window of opportunity is closing on both, voters may be left with one decisive factor between Jones and Trask heading into the SEC Championship Game: Trask couldn't lead his team to a win against Texas A&M, one week after Alabama crushed the Aggies.
Consequently, if Alabama beats Florida in the SEC Championship Game, there's almost no way Trask tops Jones for the Heisman.
Not an Alabama Record, but Really Impressive
A Crimson Tide wideout has topped 100 receiving yards in the first half during 10 of Alabama's last 21 games. It's happened in five of the eight games this season as well.
Player Opponent (Date) Catches-Yards-TDs
- DeVonta Smith Auburn (Nov. 28, 2020) 4-104-1
- DeVonta Smith Mississippi State (Oct. 31, 2020) 9-159-3
- DeVonta Smith at Ole Miss (Oct. 10, 2020) 7-105-1
- John Metchie III Texas A&M (Oct. 3, 2020) 4-118-1
- Jaylen Waddle at Missouri (Sept. 26, 2020) 7-121-2
- Jerry Jeudy vs. Michigan (Jan. 1, 2020) 4-132-1
- Jaylen Waddle Western Carolina (Nov. 23, 2019) 3-101-1
- Jerry Jeudy at Mississippi State (Nov. 16, 2019) 6-104-0
- DeVonta Smith Ole Miss (Sept. 28, 2019) 8-221-4
- Henry Ruggs III Southern Miss (Sept. 21, 2019) 4-148-2
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