In the past 30 or so years an air raid style of offense has helped evolve the college football landscape. The Run and Shoot, spread option, versatile tight end/receiver hybrids and video game style output made the games more intense shootouts than smash mouth slugfests.
That's not to say a good running game and big hogs in the trenches is not a popular thing. But the air attacks have done for football what the home run spikes of the late 90’s and early 2000’s did for baseball— put a shot in the ass of an already cherished pastime.
That being said here is a list of the greatest passing seasons by signal callers from current G5 schools. As a note this is going by passing yards.
Honorable Mention: Chase Holbrook (2006)
4,619 yards, 396/566, 34 TDs, 9 INTs
A transfer from Southeastern Louisiana, Holbrook followed his coach at SEL Hal Mumme who took the job at New Mexico State. With Mumme’s pass happy air raid offense in place Holbrook flourished in Las Cruces in 2006 which included three 500 yard plus games that season.
10. Andre Ware (1989)
4,699 yards, 365/578, 46 TDs, 15 INTs
Beginning a trend of UH passers on this list, the 1989 Heisman Trophy winner led the Cougars to a 9-2 record and a #14 ranking at the end of the season. Jack Pardee’s high powered offense had Ware leading an un-relentless Run & Shoot offense that filleted and gutted the defenses of the old Southwest Conference, posting two shutouts and five games where Houston scored 60 or more points, including 95 points dropped on SMU. When it was all said and done Ware broke 26 NCAA records en route to the Heisman.
9. Shane Carden (2014)
4,736 yards, 392/617, 30 TDs, 10 INTs
Carden led the Pirates to an 8-5 record including a huge upset win against #17 Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. While putting up consistent numbers in 2014 Carden helped ECU to a January Birmingham Bowl showdown against Florida and he finished second in the nation in passing yards behind another G5 quarterback.....
8. Brandon Doughty (2014)
4,830 yards, 375/552, 49 TDs, 10 INTs
The two-time C-USA most valuable player earned his first of two awards in 2014. With a passing rating of 167.1, Doughty captured the Sammy Baugh Trophy as the top collegiate passer in the nation. Western Kentucky’s season was capped off by a 49-48 win over Central Michigan behind Doughty’s 486 yards and five touchdowns.
7. Tim Rattay (1998)
4,953 yards, 380/558, 46 TDs, 13 INTs
Tim Rattay had a prolific career, including his 1998 campaign in which his 4,953 yards and 46 touchdowns both led the nation. That same year he also finished 10th in Heisman voting. When it was all said and done the future NFL journeyman left Louisiana Tech as the all-time leader in total offense.
6. Case Keenum (2008)
5,020 yards, 397/589, 44 TDs, 11 INTs
After a 2007 season in which he was in constant competition for the starting position with Blake Joseph, Keenum was given the reigns of the Cougar offense in 2008 and he responded with the second 5,000 yard season in college football history. The 2008 C-USA player of the year’s breakout season was a glimpse of what was to come.
5. Brandon Doughty (2015)
5,055 yards, 388/540, 48 TDs, 9 INTs
Doughty makes his second appearance with his follow up to a stellar 2014 season by surpassing his numbers and leading the Hilltoppers to a 12-2 record and a #24 ranking at the end of the year. His combined 2014 and 2015 touchdown totals (97) are the most touchdowns thrown in a two year period in NCAA history. He ended his 2015 season and career with a win in the Miami Beach Bowl and the best record in Western Kentucky history.
4. Paul Smith (2007)
5,065 yards, 327/544, 47 TDs, 19 INTs
The 2007 college football season was ridiculous with upsets galore and the cursed #2 ranking befalling teams who coveted the top position in the polls. Stats were also insanely inflated as the 2007 season produced two quarterbacks who surpassed 5,000 yards, including Paul Smith’s 5,065 yards. He led the Golden Hurricane to a 10-4 record and currently holds the record of most consecutive 300 yard games with 14.
3. David Klingler (1990)
5,140 yards, 374/643, 54 TDs, 20 INTs
Continuing the tradition of run-and-gun quarterbacks with bloated passing numbers, David Klinger’s 1990 season was one for the ages. He broke the record of touchdowns thrown in a season but as crazy as it sounds he was only second in the nation in passing yards (behind BYU’s Ty Detmer’s 5,188 yards).
His 1990 campaign saw him throw 11 touchdowns in one game and throw for 716 yards in another, all while slaughterhouse five-ing the Southwest Conference. The ‘Cougs ended up with a 10-1 record and a ranking of tenth in the nation.
1 & 2. Case Keenum (2009, 2011)
2011: 5,631 yard, 428/603, 48 TDs, 5 INTs
2009: 5,671 yards, 492/700, 44 TDs, 15 INTs
Making his second and third appearance on this list, 2009 saw Keenum reach the 5,000 yard mark for a second time in his career en route to a 10-4 record. Despite a six-interception bowl loss to Air Force, his stock was high for the 2010 season.
But three games into 2010 he blew out his ACL and his quest for the record books would have to wait. After being granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA he was back to form in 2011. The Cougars would finish at 12-1, highlighted by Keenum’s second Sammy Baugh trophy as well as his 19,217 career yards and 155 touchdown passes which are both still records for college football’s most prolific passer.