Last week, Sean Mannion took the Oregon State Beavers up to Pullman and put on the best show yet of his excellent 2013 season. Already ranked No. 1 in the country in passing yards per game coming into the game, Mannion took his game to a new level and set the Oregon State school record for yards in a game with a 493-yard, 4-touchdown showcase that he dropped on the Washington State Cougars. This week, Oregon State takes on the Cal Bears and Mannion could leave another huge mark on the record books in this one.
The all-time single-game passing record for an FBS quarterback came on December 2, 1990, when David Klingler of the Houston Cougars dropped 716 yards on the defense of the Arizona State Sun Devils. That season, Klingler would go on to also set the mark for the highest passing yards per game average with a ridiculous 467.3 yards per game. Both records have seemed pretty safe up to this point but Mannion could make a run at both of them before all is said and done.
Through six games, Mannion is averaging 418.5 yards per game and is coming off back-to-back 400-yard performances as he simply gets better as the season goes on. This week, he gets matched up against a Cal pass defense that ranks second to last in the country (No. 124), allowing 321.8 yards per game. When the Bears hosted Washington State two weeks ago, Connor Halliday had a record-setting day of his own, passing for 521 yards on the day, a full 200 yards above his yards per game average (10th best in the country). If Mannion can match that bump in production Halliday got, that puts him over 600 yards passing on the day, easily.
To get to that lofty 716, though, this game may need to turn into a shootout. No worries there as the Oregon State pass defense, ranked No. 99 in the country, will have their hands full with Cal true freshman quarterback Jared Goff. The young gunslinger ranks No. 6 in the country in yards per game and is quickly making his mark on the record books in Berkeley. The Cal offense is capable of scoring points, particularly through the air, and Oregon State has been somewhat susceptible this season. Mannion may not have any choice but to throw for 716 yards just to get the Beavers the win.
Even if he falls short of the all-time record on Saturday, though, Mannion is leaving a major mark on the program in Corvallis. He’s already set the school record for 350-yard passing games in a season, his 493-yard mark is the highest in school history and five of the 14 all-time 400-yard passing games at Oregon State belong to Mannion. His 25 touchdowns in 2013 are tied for third most for a single season in Corvallis (and he’s still got at least six games to go) and currently sits second in career passing touchdowns with 56. Even his favorite target, Brandin Cooks, is getting into the record books with him as the pair set the record for touchdown connections between a quarterback and receiver with number 17 last week.
There is no denying that Mannion has been prolific through the air this season. This Saturday, he has a chance to show just how prolific he can be. Even if he falls short of setting some all-time records against Cal, you can bet he’ll have a strong case for most of the Oregon State records by season’s end.