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Oklahoma Sooners

Game Primer: Big 12 Championship

5 Oklahoma

OklahomaTexas

14 Texas

Saturday, Dec. 1 / 11 a.m. CT / AT&T Stadium

OPENING KICK

• No. 5/5/5 Oklahoma (11-1, 8-1 Big 12) goes for its fourth consecutive Big 12 title and 12th overall when it meets No. 14/9/9 Texas (9-3, 7-2) Saturday at 11 a.m. CT in the Big 12 Championship Game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The game will be televised by ABC with Sean McDonough, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe announcing.

• Saturday’s game will feature the programs with the most Big 12 Championships (Oklahoma has 11 and Texas has three). This will mark the first Big 12 Championship Game between the Sooners and Longhorns.

• The contest will mark just the second Big 12 Championship Game since 2010. OU has more Big 12 Championship Game wins (eight) than any other program has appearances. It has qualified for 10 of the league’s 17 title games and owns an 8-1 record. Texas and Nebraska rank second with six Big 12 title game appearances, and the Longhorns rank second with three wins.

• A win Saturday would mark Oklahoma’s fourth straight league crown. The last time the Sooners won four consecutive conference championships was 1984-87 under head coach Barry Switzer. The last Power Five program to win four straight outright league titles was Florida (1993-96).

• Saturday’s game will mark the first AP top-10 matchup between Oklahoma and Texas since the 2008 season (No. 5 Texas beat No. 1 OU 45-35).

• The Sooners are 56-33-2 (.626) in AP top-10 matchups, and 17-8 (.680) since the start of the 2000 season. They are 37-20 (.649) as the higher ranked team in such games.

• OU has won 33 of its last 35 games (.943) against Big 12 opponents dating back to the 2015 season. The losses were to Iowa State last season (38-31) and to Texas this year (48-45 on Oct. 6). Nineteen of those 33 victories have been by at least 15 points, and nine by at least 30 points.

• Oklahoma has scored at least 45 points in eight straight games (averaging 53.4 during the stretch), which is the longest streak in school history. The previous record was seven consecutive games in 2008. It is also the longest same-season streak by an FBS team since at least 1980.

Big 12 Champions

KEY STORYLINES

• Saturday will mark the first time since the 1978 season — and just the third time in school history — for Oklahoma to face a team it lost to earlier in the same campaign. Under head coach Barry Switzer, the No. 1-ranked Sooners lost 17-14 at No. 4 Nebraska on Nov. 11, 1978. The teams met again on Jan. 1, with No. 4 OU posting a 31-24 Orange Bowl victory over the No. 6 Huskers. In 1901, the Sooners lost 12-6 at Texas on Oct. 19 and then dropped an 11-0 contest in Norman on Nov. 25.

• Texas is the only Big 12 program with a winning record against the Sooners. Oklahoma trails 62-46-5 in the series, but owns a 25-20-3 advantage since 1971. In the Big 12 era, OU is 13-10 against the Longhorns. The Sooners have won six of the last nine meetings and 12 of the last 19.

• Saturday’s game will pit the nation’s top offense against one of the Big 12’s better defenses. Oklahoma leads the country in total offense (583.8 ypg; next most is 547.6), scoring offense (50.3 ppg) and yards per play (8.9; next most is 8.0). Texas ranks third in the Big 12 in total defense (392.2 ypg), scoring defense (25.2 ppg) and yards per play allowed (5.6).

• Oklahoma has rushed for at least 300 yards and passed for at least 300 in a game a school-record five times already this year (the previous record was two times in 2012), including in four of the last five contests. Entering this season, the feat had only been accomplished six times in school history. OU has recorded five of the eight occurrences this year by Power Five teams (one each by Ole Miss, Ohio State and Oklahoma State).

• Despite losing preseason All-Big 12 running back Rodney Anderson for the season due to an injury against UCLA in the second game of the year, Oklahoma leads the Big 12 and ranks eighth nationally with its 264.3 rushing yards per game (Oklahoma State ranks second in the conference at 192.1). More impressively, the Sooners rank first nationally with their 7.0 yards per rush, which is 2.2 yards more than the next highest team in the league (OSU averages 4.8). Only one time (7.1 in 1971) has an OU team averaged more than 7.0 yards per rush for an entire season. Running backs Kennedy Brooks (99.3) and Trey Sermon (71.9), and quarterback Kyler Murray (71.1) rank third, sixth and seventh in the Big 12 in rushing yards per game, and have combined for 34 rushing touchdowns.

• Brooks has carried the rushing load for OU over the last three games, running 61 times for 518 yards (8.5 per rush) and six touchdowns. That’s an average of 172.7 yards per contest. The redshirt freshman, who was no higher than fourth on the depth chart to start the season, has run for at least 165 yards in each of the last thee outings and is now leading the country with his 9.64 yards per carry on the year. The NCAA single-season record (min. 115 attempts) is 9.63 yards per attempt by Houston’s Chuck Weatherspoon in 1989. The OU record is 8.98 by Greg Pruitt in 1971, and the Big 12 record is 8.93 by West Virginia’s Tavon Austin in 2012.

• Since returning to full (or nearly full) strength prior to the Oklahoma State game (he sustained an ankle injury during the Oct. 20 TCU contest), junior receiver Marquise Brown has caught 25 passes for 450 yards (150.0 per game) and three touchdowns over the last three outings. Brown, who was a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist, averaged 112.5 yards and caught seven TDs in OU’s six games before his injury, and then averaged 46.3 yards with no TDs over the next three contests.

EARLIER THIS YEAR VS. TEXAS

• No. 7/5 Oklahoma scored 21 straight fourth-quarter points to tie the game at 45 with 2:38 remaining, but No. 19/20 Texas kicked a 40-yard field goal with nine seconds left to register a 48-45 win in the highest-scoring Red River Showdown ever on Oct 6 at the Cotton Bowl. The loss was just OU’s second in 29 games against Big 12 opponents.

• Texas led 24-17 at half and took a 45-24 lead with 56 seconds left in the third quarter. OU quarterback Kyler Murray hit Lee Morris for a 19-yard touchdown with 8:28 to go in the fourth, and ran for a 67-yard score three minutes later. Trey Sermon’s 7-yard TD run tied the score before Texas drove 52 yards to set up the game-winning field goal.

• Murray finished with 304 passing yards and a game-high 92 rushing yards. He was 19 for 26 through the air with four TDs and an interception, and lost his first fumble of the year.

• Marquise Brown caught nine passes for 131 yards and two TDs, including a 77-yarder that was OU’s longest pass play ever against Texas. CeeDee Lamb had six catches for 75 yards and a score.

• OU averaged 9.2 yards per play to Texas’ 6.7, outgaining the Longhorns 532 yards to 501 despite running 17 fewer plays.

• Curtis Bolton (13) and Kenneth Murray (10) combined for 23 tackles. Bolton (-12 yards) had one of OU’s three sacks on the day.

UNPRECEDENTED OFFENSE

• Oklahoma’s offense has achieved or is on pace to achieve accomplishments not seen for many years, if ever. Below are just some.

• OU’s eight-game streak of at least 45 points is tied for the longest among FBS teams since at least 1980 (Baylor also did it over the 2011 and ’12 seasons) and is the longest same-season streak.

• The Sooners are the first team in FBS history to record at least 500 yards of offense in nine regular season conference games.

• At current per-game averages, OU is on pace to become the first FBS team to ever produce a 4,000-yard passer (Kyler Murray has 3,674), at least two 1,000-yard rushers (Kennedy Brooks has 993, Trey Sermon has 863 and Kyler Murray has 853) and at least two 1,000-yard receivers (Marquise Brown has 1,264 and CeeDee Lamb has 882).

• Murray has registered six games this year of at least 300 passing yards and at least 65 rushing yards, the highest single-season total since at least 1996 (see “By Air and By Land” chart on this page).

• Including his freshman season at Texas A&M, Murray owns a career passing efficiency rating of 183.68. Assuming he gets to the NCAA minimum of 325 completions to qualify (he has 306), his rating would set the FBS career record. The current career standard of 175.6 is held by former Sooner Sam Bradford (2007-09), and Baker Mayfield ranks second at 175.4. Murray’s efficiency rating in his two seasons at OU is 211.3.

Brooks

MODEL OF EFFICIENCY

• Oklahoma ranks 110th out of 130 FBS teams with just 65.4 offensive plays per game, but it ranks first nationally with its 583.8 yards per contest (next highest average is 547.6). That’s because the Sooners lead the nation with a staggering 8.9 yards per play, a figure that would shatter the FBS single-season record of 8.6 by Hawaii in 2006. The OU single-season record of 8.3 yards per play was set last year, and the program’s second-best figure is 7.6 in 1971. Alabama ranks second this year with its 8.0 yards per play, and Georgia third at 7.4. OU also leads the nation by gaining at least 10 yards on 32.4 percent of its plays (254 of 785). Alabama ranks second at 29.4 percent (see “Big Gains” chart on page 2 of these game notes).

• Fifty-nine of Oklahoma’s 76 offensive touchdown drives (78 percent) have taken less than three minutes of game clock. That excludes the overtime TD drive vs. Army that took two plays.

• The Sooners are averaging 0.73 points per offensive play this season. Going back to 1996, the highest end-of-season figure was 0.69 by Florida State in 2013. OU’s number in the first half of games this season is 0.82.

• OU has averaged 3.88 points per offensive possession this season, putting points on the scoreboard on 60 percent of its possessions, and scoring touchdowns 52 percent of the time.

• With Kyler Murray leading the offense, the scoring rate has been even higher. The Sooners have averaged 0.75 points per offensive play and 4.10 points per possession.

• Oklahoma opponents have run 897 plays this season to the Sooners’ 785. That’s an average of 9.3 more per game. Despite that, OU has outgained its foes by 1,617 yards on the year (+134.8 per game).

• Texas has run 114 more plays than OU on the season (899-785), but the Sooners have gained 2,039 more yards (7,005-4,966). The Longhorns are averaging 5.5 yards per play.

MURRAY ANOTHER OU HEISMAN HOPEFUL

• Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year Kyler Murray leading the nation in yards per completion (17.0) and yards per pass attempt (12.0), and ranking second in passing efficiency rating (206.8; the NCAA single-season record of 198.9 was set by Baker Mayfield last year), total offense (377.3 ypg; didn’t play in second half vs. Florida Atlantic or final 23:20 vs. Kansas State; OU only ran 40 plays vs. Army) and points responsible for per game (24.0), fourth in passing touchdowns per game (3.1) and sixth in completion percentage (.706). He is the only player in the country averaging at least 300.0 passing yards (306.2) and at least 50.0 rushing yards (71.1).

• Murray has thrown at least two touchdown passes in all but one game this year, and has thrown at least three TD passes in nine of 12 contests. He had his school- and Big 12-record streak of eight games with at least three TD passes snapped in a win against Oklahoma State on Nov. 10.

• In Big 12 play, Murray led the league in total offense at 409.3 yards per game (next most was 335.1 by West Virginia’s Will Grier), passing efficiency rating with his 208.2 mark (next best was 176.7 by Iowa State’s Brock Purdy) and in total TDs with 37 (next most was 31 by Grier).

• A 5-10, 195-pounder from Allen, Texas, Murray is looking to become OU’s fourth Heisman Trophy finalist in the last three years (Baker Mayfield in 2016 and ’17 and Dede Westbrook in 2016), and its second straight winner (Mayfield). He has accounted for 48 touchdowns (37 passing, 11 rushing) against nine turnovers (5.3-to-1 ratio). He leads all Big 12 QBs with 853 rushing yards (7.5 per carry) and 11 rushing TDs.

• Only 10 times since the start of the Big 12 Conference in 1996 has a Sooner thrown for at least 300 yards and rushed for at least 65 in a game, and Murray has done it on six occasions this year. That’s the highest single-season total by an FBS player since at least 1996.

• Through 12 games this season, Murray has a better passing efficiency rating (206.8), more yards per pass attempt (12.0), more yards per completion (17.0), more rushing yards per game (71.1) and more rushing TDs (11) than Baker Mayfield, Sam Bradford and Jason White did through 12 games the years they won their Heisman Trophies while at OU.

HOORAY FOR HOLLYWOOD

• Biletnikoff Award semifinalist and first-team All-Big 12 selection Marquise Brown, who hails from Hollywood, Fla., was one of the country’s most explosive receivers last year, and 2018 is no different. Brown ranks eighth nationally in receiving yards per game (105.3) this season, and among players averaging at least 5.0 receptions per game he ranks first with his 18.1 yards per catch.

• Brown is tied for first nationally this season with 11 catches of at least 40 yards, his seven receptions of at least 50 yards and his four grabs of at least 60 yards. His long receiving plays this season have gone for 77 yards (TD), 75 yards (TD), 65 yards (TD), 65 yards, 58 yards (TD), 51 yards (TD), 50 yards (TD), 48 yards, 46 yards, 45 yards (TD) and 40 yards (TD).

• Since the start of the 2017 season, Brown leads the nation with his 14 catches of at least 50 yards. The 14 grabs have gone for 87, 84, 77, 77, 75, 66, 65, 65, 58, 56, 52, 51, 50 and 50 yards. Ten of those 14 receptions have resulted in a TD.

• Brown has started his OU career with 127 catches for 2,359 yards (18.6 average) and 19 TDs. His 2,359 receiving yards are the most in the first 25 games of a Sooner career.

Hollywood

OU’S 1-2 LINEBACKING PUNCH

• No duo in the Big 12 averages more tackles per game than Oklahoma sophomore Kenneth Murray and redshirt senior Curtis Bolton. Both linebackers, Murray ranks second in the Big 12 (fifth nationally) with his 11.1 tackles per outing, while Bolton ranks third (17th nationally) with 10.0. Over the last nine games, Murray has 114 tackles (12.7 average) while Bolton has 98 (10.9).

• Murray has 133 tackles on the year, the most by a Sooner since freshman linebacker Travis Lewis logged 144 in 2008. The 133 stops are 55 more than his total last season (78) when he started all 14 games, earned freshman All-America honors from the Football Writers Association of America and USA Today, and was co-Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year. His 28 tackles against Army were the most by an FBS player since at least 2000 (when the NCAA began tracking the record).

• Amazingly, Bolton’s 120 tackles are 104 more than he had in his career (16) entering the year. Playing primarily on special teams and battling injuries prior to this season, his 12 career starts have all come in 2018.

• This marks just the second time in the last 16 years that two Sooners have recorded at least 100 tackles in the same season (linebacker Travis Lewis had 109 and defensive back Jonathan Nelson had 102 in 2010).

HERE’S THE KICKER

• Senior kicker/punter Austin Seibert, who ranks seventh nationally (third among kickers) with his 9.6 points per game this season, became OU’s and the Big 12’s all-time leading scorer three weeks ago against Oklahoma State. Seibert, who has 476 career points, broke the previous school record of 450 by kicker Michael Hunnicutt (2011-14) and the previous Big 12 record of 451 by Baylor kicker Aaron Jones (2010-13) and TCU kicker Jaden Oberkrom (2012-15).

• Seibert, OU’s first-ever Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year, ranks third in FBS history among kickers with his 476 points. He needs four points to tie Auburn’s Daniel Carlson (2014-17) for the No. 2 position, and 18 to tie the record of 494 points by Arizona State’s Zane Gonzalez (2013-16).

• Seibert holds the NCAA career records for extra points made and attempted (he is now 302 for 307).

• For the third straight season, Seibert is handling OU’s placekicking, punting and kickoff duties. He is one of just three players nationally this season to lead his team in each (San Jose State’s Bryce Crawford and Rice’s Jack Fox).

• Seibert also ranks second at OU in career field goals made (58) and PAT percentage (.984; 302-307), fourth in career field goal percentage (.784; 58-74) and fifth in career punting average (41.7).

ISN’T THAT SPECIAL

• Special teams have been a major positive for the Sooners through 12 games. Among teams with at least 2.0 kickoff returns per game this season, OU ranks 17th nationally with its 23.3 average. That’s thanks largely to sophomore cornerback Tre Brown, who ranks 33rd in the country with his 23.9-yard average. He has compiled 620 yards on 26 returns, including an 86-yarder in the first quarter vs. UCLA that set up the tying touchdown after OU fell behind 7-0.

• OU ranks eighth nationally with its 16.0 yards per punt return. Sophomore receiver CeeDee Lamb ranks seventh in the country by averaging 14.3 yards on his 15 returns. He’s registered runbacks of 66 yards against UCLA, 65 yards against Oklahoma State and 34 yards versus Kansas. Junior receiver Lee Morris has one return for 28 yards.

• Last year, OU ranked 98th nationally in kick return average (19.3 yards) and 97th in punt return average (5.6).

• Opponents have only returned six punts this season and they have gone for a combined 21 yards (fifth fewest in nation). OU has also registered its first two blocked punts since 2013, and and its first two blocked punt TDs since 2002. Against Florida Atlantic in the season opener, Lee Morris blocked a punt that Curtis Bolton recovered in the end zone. And against Kansas two weeks ago, Brayden Willis blocked a punt that Bolton returned nine yards for a score.

• Eighty of Austin Seibert’s 96 kickoffs this season have resulted in touchbacks (his 83.3-percent rate is fifth best in the country). He had a streak of 32 touchbacks snapped at TCU on Oct. 20 following a 15-yard post-TD celebration penalty that was enforced on the kickoff (he still kicked the ball to the 1-yard line).

Special teams

RILEY’S FAST START

• The Football Bowl Subdivision’s youngest head coach (33) at the time of his hiring on June 7, 2017, Lincoln Riley became just the fifth mentor in FBS history with no previous head-coaching experience at a four-year college to win at least 12 games in his debut season. The previous record for wins by a first-year OU head coach was 10 by Chuck Fairbanks in 1967 and Barry Switzer in 1973. Riley, who is 23-3 at OU, also holds the Sooners’ record for most wins in the first two seasons as head coach (Switzer, who went 21-0-1 in 1973 and ’74, held the previous mark). Riley, who was named Co-Big 12 Coach of the Year on Wednesday, turned 35 on Sept. 5 and was the second-youngest FBS head coach entering this season.

OFFENSE HAS ROLLED UNDER RILEY

• Oklahoma owns the nation’s most productive offense since the start of the 2015 season, which was Lincoln Riley’s first year as OU’s offensive coordinator. Riley called plays as the program’s offensive coordinator and continues to as head coach.

• Since the start of the 2015 season, OU ranks first nationally in points per game (45.6), total offense (562.0; next most is 526.5), touchdowns from scrimmage (300; next most is 272), passing efficiency rating (190.5; next best is 160.4), completion percentage (69.5), and yards per pass attempt (10.7), and is fifth in passing offense (327.7) and 11th in rushing offense (234.3).

• In 51 games since the start of the 2015 season, OU has registered at least 500 yards of total offense 39 times, including in 29 of the last 36 outings, topped the 600-yard mark on 20 occasions and gone over 700 yards six times. Similarly, OU has scored at least 30 points in 46 of 52 games since Riley’s arrival, at least 40 points 36 times, at least 50 points 22 times and at least 60 points seven times.

• The Sooners have registered at least 700 yards of offense 12 times in their history, and six of those occasions have come since the start of the 2015 season: 854 at Texas Tech in 2016; 785 at Oklahoma State in 2017; 773 vs. Tulsa in 2015; 710 at Kansas in 2015; 702 vs. Kansas State in 2018; 702 vs. Oklahoma State in 2018.

GOING FOR BIG 12 FOUR-PEAT

• If Oklahoma wins Saturday, it will mark the program’s fourth straight Big 12 crown. The last time the Sooners won four consecutive conference championships was 1984-87 under head coach Barry Switzer.

• OU is the only program to win three straight Big 12 titles, and it has done so twice (also from 2006-08). Baylor (2013-14) is the only other program to win two Big 12 championships in a row.

• The last Power Five program to win four straight outright league titles was Florida from 1993 through 1996.

EXTRA POINTS

• Oklahoma is the nation’s only team this year with at least 30 rushing touchdowns and at least 30 passing TDs, and it has almost 40 of each (39 and 38, respectively).

• The Sooners rank fourth nationally by converting 50.4 percent of their third-down plays. They are also tied for the Big 12 lead by allowing just 1.2 sacks per game.

• OU committed just 13 turnovers in its 14 games last year (six interceptions and seven fumbles lost). That marked the second-lowest total in school history (11 in 2008). The Sooners have 12 total turnovers in 12 games this season. Their 25 turnovers since the start of the 2017 campaign are eighth fewest nationally.

• Redshirt junior receiver Lee Morris has 21 career catches and 10 have gone for touchdowns. The 47.6-percent touchdown rate ranks first in school history among players with at least 20 receptions. Eight of Morris’s 19 receptions this year have resulted in a score.

• Kyler Murray has won five Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week honors, tying the single-season record set by Texas running back Ricky Williams in his Heisman Trophy-winning year of 1998.

• Senior Austin Seibert went 12 for 12 on field goals in Big 12 play.

• Oklahoma has scored at least 30 points in 34 of its last 36 games (29 and 28 in the other two). It has won 33 of those 36 contests. OU’s 33-3 record since Oct. 1, 2016, is the nation’s third best (Alabama is 34-2 and Clemson 34-3).

• OU has scored at least 50 points 22 times since the start of the 2015 season, most in the nation.

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