Halliday's pace sets up intrigue down stretch

WHO COULD HAVE imagined it? Cougar QB Connor Halliday entered the 2014 campaign ranked No. 34 on the Pac-12 career passing list and the notion of climbing past OSU's Sean Mannion en route to record-holder Matt Barkley looked well beyond reach. But now at the season’s midpoint, it appears Halliday and Mannion are going to be neck-and-neck on the climb to, and beyond, Mount Barkley.

After six games Halliday (incredibly) has an excellent shot at becoming the Pac-12's career passing leader.

Barkley, the former USC standout now with the Philadelphia Eagles, stands alone atop the all-time conference passing list with 12,327 yards.

After breaking the FBS single-game record for air yards on Saturday against Cal, Halliday's career total stands at 10,487. He is averaging a nearly absurd 508.7 yards per game, which puts him on track for an NCAA-record 6,104 yards this regular-season ... and 13,539 career.

In short, at the current pace, Halliday will surpass Barkley in four weeks and put him far into the the rear-view mirror by the time the season ends.

The true duel for No. 1 is going to be with Mannion.

If the current trend-lines hold, Mannion's career passing total -- at least through the regular season -- would edge Halliday's by a mere 27 yards. Mannion is averaging 260.8 yards per game this season.

The fact Halliday is within striking distance is remarkable when you consider this: Mannion has started nine more games in his career than Halliday and started this season with a decided edge.

Let the second half of the 2014 season begin.

  • Halliday was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week after the Cal loss. He set the FBS single-game record with 734 passing yards. He threw 6 TD passes and no interceptions, on 49-of-70 passing (70 percent).
  • The single-season Pac-12 passing record is held by Mannion, with 4,662 yards, set last season. Halliday had 4,597 yards last season.

  • No. 2 on the career Pac-12 passing list is Carson Palmer (USC, 11,818). Cougar Alex Brink (2004-07), who holds the WSU record, is fourth on the Pac-12 list with 10,913 yards.

  • The all-time NCAA passing record is safe. Case Keenum (Houston, 2007-11) holds the top mark with 19,217 yards -- 2,000-plus yards over No. 2 Timmy Chang (Hawaii, 17,072.)

  • Halliday already owns the NCAA single-game record for pass attempts with 89 and shares the mark for completions with 58.

  • Halliday likely faces his toughest defensive test of the season tonight against Stanford. The Cardinal are allowing a mere 107.4 passing yards per game (No. 2 nationally) and just 8.6 points, (No. 1).

  • But it's also worth noting that of Stanford's five opponents thus far, Army is dead last nationally in passing offense and Washington ranks 114th out of 124 FBS teams. While USC and Notre Dame are far from poor, they don't crack the top 25 and UC Davis is ranked No. 88, in the FCS, in passing offense.

  • Halliday leads the nation with 26 TD passes on the season. He is on pace to tie B.J. Symonds (Texas Tech under Mike Leach in ’03) for third place on the all-time single season list with 52. Colt Brennan holds the top spot with 56, (Hawaii, 2006). His 84 career TD passes moved him past Andrew Luck and into fourth all-time in Pac-12 Conference history. His next TD pass will put him into a tie with ASU's Andrew Walter (85).

    It’s not quite the full-page, color photo treatment Jack Thompson received from Sports Illustrated in the late 1970s, but Washington State’s Connor Halliday still earned the Mother of All Compliments when SI included this mention and photo on the left in this week’s edition of the magazine. Of course, it only took the breaking of a 24-year national passing record to earn this modicum of recognition. But given how hot Halliday’s hand has been of late, one would have to think it’s just the beginning of the national attention he’ll attract by the time the season is done.

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