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294 yards rushing. 68 yards receiving. 161 yards on punt/kick returns.
These are the statistics for one player.
On November 19, 2005, Reggie Bush had one of the single-greatest individual performances in any sporting event I have ever witnessed.
There are a few random moments in sports that stick out in my mind for whatever reason. I can remember being 11 years old and watching Barry Bonds break the single-season home run record set by Hank Aaron. Heck, I even remember when Michael Jordan came back to play for the Wizards and I remember when he dropped 50 points in an actual NBA game against actual NBA players who were way younger and quicker and stronger than he was at that time. Sometimes things in sports happen and they don't make sense.
Reggie Bush accumulating 513 all-purpose yards in one game will stick with me forever.
The way he toyed with the defense was a sight to behold. It was quite honestly like watching someone play a video game on the lowest level of difficulty. I mean, okay, it was Fresno State, and they aren't super known for having a stout defense. But to see one player amass more yards than an entire team can in a game is insane. In later interviews he attributes his successes in that game to the receivers for keeping the corners off the line and to the offensive line for opening up those holes. It is a team sport, of course - but that night we witnessed a man single-handedly destroy a defense.
Bush’s 513 all-purpose yards performance was not the most in NCAA history, though: Emmett White posted 578 total yards in a game against New Mexico State in 2000, which is the record for most all-purpose yards in a single game. What separates these two games, though, is that White had fourteen (14) more touches than Bush did. It puts average yards-per-touch at something around 15.1 for Bush and 12.6 for White. That is actually insane. It is a game that essentially decided the Heisman Trophy race that year (an award which was later vacated, but we are not here to discuss that. We are thinking happy thoughts right now).
Could you imagine the collective freakout we all could have had had Twitter been a thing back then?
There have been other highly-impressive individual performances in higher-stakes games in NCAA football history. This night in November, though, will always be one of my favorites - not for the importance of the moment, more so due to the sheer brilliance that we bore witness to.
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