There’s little reason to watch a 3-5 MAC team waddle its way through the rest of the season, unless said team has a guy on pace to break an NCAA record.
Meet Freddie Barnes. A converted quarterback, the BGSU senior caught 14 passes for 176 yards and a touchdown in a 24-10 loss to Central Michigan. The total brought him up 99 catches, a number which is quite ridiculous to comprehend. Take away his 22-reception game against Kent State, and he still leads the country. He also leads the country in total yards (1,054), yards per game (131.8) and receiving touchdowns (nine). And on Monday afternoon he was named one of 10 semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award, given to college football’s top receiver. The list will be narrowed down to three on November 19.
The last MAC wide receiver to win the Biletnikoff was Marshall’s Randy Moss in 1998, and the last finalist from the MAC was Ball State’s Dante Ridgeway in 2004. One has to think Barnes has has a better-than-good chance to win it, considering how far ahead stat-wise he is this season. He has 37 more receptions and 173 more receiving yards than the second place guy in those respective categories. BGSU enjoys a bye for Halloween weekend, but the task of catching Barnes in catches borders on Sisyphean.
Winning the Biletnikoff would be nice, but somebody wins that every year. What doesn’t happen annually is the chance to set the NCAA record for receptions in a season, held by the indefatigable Manny Hazard, who collected 142 for Houston in 1989. Currently Barnes is on pace to shatter it. It’s not a shoe-in that Barnes can collect 43 passes in their final four games (a bowl game, which would certainly help, is probably wishful thinking), but that’s only 10.75 receptions per game, which is lower than his current average of 12.375.