Tramel: Samaje Perine's record was in jeopardy thanks to Buffalo's Jaret Patterson
Samaje Perine trotted onto Owen Field for OU’s first possession of the fourth quarter on November 22, 2014. The Sooners led Kansas 44-7, but Perine remained in the game because his coach knew the NCAA rushing single-game record.
Six years and six days later, Jaret Patterson trotted off the UB Stadium field for the exact opposite reason. His coach did not know the NCAA rushing single-game record.
In Buffalo’s 70-41 rout of Kent State last Saturday in the Mid-American Conference, Patterson rushed for 409 yards on 36 carries, including an NCAA record-tying eight touchdowns.
Patterson fell 18 yards shy of Perine’s NCAA record of 427 against Kansas.
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Patterson’s final carry was a four-yard gain to the Kent State 19-yard line, with about two minutes left. Then he left the field, and backup Kevin Marks Jr. proceeded with a four-yard gain, then a 15-yard touchdown run.
Do the math. Four plus 15 equals 19; 19 plus 409 is 428. One yard more than Perine’s record. Had Patterson remained in the game, he almost surely would have set the record.
So why didn’t Buffalo coach Lance Leipold keep Patterson in the game?
"I didn't know any of (the statistics) until I got to the track” after the game, Leipold said, according to SB Nation's Hustle Belt. "I didn't even know he had eight touchdowns ... I wish I would have known a little bit."
Six years ago, Stoops knew. A week earlier, Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon had set the NCAA record with 408 rushing yards in a 59-24 victory over Nebraska.
A week later in Norman, OU led 41-7 with 12:59 left in the game. OU’s offense was about to take the field, and Perine had 378 rushing on 32 carries. Bob Stoops decided to give Perine a crack at the record.
Stoops said he became aware of the potential record in the third quarter, and the coaching staff wanted to balance Perine’s chances of getting the record while also protecting his health.
“I said, ‘We’re going to let him go this one series in the fourth quarter. And if he doesn’t get it, after this series, we’re going to take him out,’” Stoops said later.
Perine gained seven yards on the first carry of that drive. Then he popped free and rambled for a 42-yard gain. The record was his.
“My eyes just popped open when he broke it,” Stoops said. “I was like, ‘Yes.’”
Stoops called timeout, sent Perine back onto the field and he was presented the game ball, while his teammates celebrated. Offensive tackle Tyrus Thompson lifted Perine off the ground.
Patterson got plenty of accolades and celebration, too, but not the NCAA single-game rushing record.
“They told me about the touchdowns — I didn't know about the yards,” Patterson said. “But man, I just was trying to run out the clock so we could go in the locker room and celebrate with everybody.
“And I'm not really too pressed over the records. I know that they will come. It takes everybody. I just wanted to win."