Only six players have ever completed the College Football Trifecta: Heisman Winner, National Champion, and undefeated champion. The list includes Davey O’Brien, Johnny Lujack, Matt Leinart, Cam Newton, Jameis Winston and, most recently, Joe Burrow. This elite group consists of some of the best players college football has ever seen. Many experts see Cam Newton’s 2010 season as the best ever, and it’s hard to argue against. He had 2,854 passing yards, 1,473 rushing yards, and a combined 51 touchdowns. Though Newton’s season is very impressive, it’s time to recognize Joe Burrow’s 2019-20 season as the best in NCAA history.
Burrow and Newton parallel each other in the ways that they broke out. Both of them were transfers who seemed to emerge randomly after a rough season. Newton played his freshman and sophomore years at Florida, seeing the field in only six games. He wasn’t even a part of the Heisman conversation before entering the 2010 season. This is much like Burrow, who’s 2019 season was less than desirable. He completed under 60% of his passes and threw for less than 3,000 yards in 13 games. Much like Newton, he was very much under the radar in terms of the Heisman race.
That all changed after just three weeks. Burrow became the Heisman favorite by Week 5 and never looked back. He ran away with the Heisman trophy after gaining 841 of 975 total votes while leading LSU to the National Championship. Burrow is already in an exclusive class of players, but how good was he on a historic level? The answer is really good. Maybe the best of all-time type of good. Burrow’s 5,671 passing yards were the third-best in a single season for a quarterback, he broke the record for passing touchdowns with 60, and also finished second of all-time in completion percentage at 76%.
Cam Newton, for example, had 51 total touchdowns, 4,369 all-purpose yards, and a 66% completion percentage — a whole 10 points behind Burrow. Another quarterback that is discussed as the greatest ever is Tim Tebow, who won the Heisman his sophomore year in 2007. But even Tebow doesn’t compare, as he had under 4,200 total yards and 65 total touchdowns compared to Burrow’s 6,040 total yards and 65 total touchdowns. It seems weird to say that Tebow and Newton had “only” 4,000+ yards and 60 touchdowns, but Burrow’s stats make them seem minuscule in comparison.
With Joe Burrow likely entering the NFL Draft, the National Championship will have been the last time we see him in an LSU uniform. Every CFB fan this year has been lucky to see such an amazing performance from a player and team.
Burrow’s run of greatness this year is historic, and we would be lucky to see talent like this again.