After all the talk about whether Derrick Henry or Christian McCaffrey is the best running back in college football, the 2015 NCAA rushing title belongs to LSU’s Leonard Fournette.
Wait, what? How can that be?
Fournette became the first LSU running back to win the NCAA rushing title and the first SEC running back to do so since 1949. He finished the year averaging 162.8 yards per game and set a single-season school record by rushing for 1,953 yards on 300 carries. He also ran for a school record 22 touchdowns. The NCAA decides the rushing champion based on yards per game rather than total yardage for the year. The rule was established prior to the 1970 season.
Despite both Henry and McCaffrey surpassing 2,000 yards on the season and setting numerous other records, they each played at least two more games than Fournette. Stanford played 14 games and Alabama played 15. LSU’s season opener against McNeese State was canceled because of horrible weather. Stanford and Alabama also played in their respective conference championship games.
The honor was just another award to add to the already growing list of accomplishments for Fournette. He set the LSU record by accounting for four 200-yard games this season and tied the school mark for games with at least 100 yards rushing with 10.
The last SEC running back to win the NCAA rushing title was John Dottley of Ole Miss, who finished the 1949 season with 1,312 rushing yards. The only other SEC running back to win the honor was in 1941 when Georgia’s Frank Sinkwich rushed for 1,103 yards.
Fournette will enter the 2016 season with 2,987 career rushing yards, which is fourth all-time in school history. Kevin Faulk holds the record with 4,557 yards followed by Dalton Hilliard with 4,050 yards and Charles Alexander with 4,035 yards.
Henry, who won the Heisman Trophy, finished in second with 147.9 yards per game and McCaffrey finished in third with 144.2 yards per game. Rounding out the top five were Oregon’s Royce Freeman with 142.2 yards per game and Florida State’s Dalvin Cook with 140.9 yards per game.
Featured image courtesy of USAToday.