NORMAN — Oklahoma’s offensive line has been named one of three finalists for the Joe Moore Award, presented to the most outstanding offensive line unit in college football, it was announced Tuesday. The other finalists hail from Alabama and Georgia.
Coached by co-offensive coordinator Bill Bedenbaugh, OU’s offensive line has paved the way for an offense that is on pace to break the single-season FBS record for yards per play. The Sooners are averaging 8.7 yards per snap this year, a mark that would top the record of 8.6 by Hawaii in 2006. The next highest average this season is 7.9 by Alabama, and the third highest is 7.4 by Clemson.
OU also leads the nation with 11.6 yards per pass attempt, and ranks second by averaging 6.7 yards per rush. No FBS team since 1994 has finished in the top two nationally in both categories in the same year.
Additionally, the Sooners are the only team in the country this season with at least 40 rushing touchdowns (40) and at least 40 passing TDs (41).
What makes those numbers even more impressive is the fact that OU had to replace two-time All-American and 2017 Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield at quarterback, as well as one of the country’s top running backs who was lost for the year in this season’s second game due to injury (Rodney Anderson led all Power Five players in yards from scrimmage [1,333] and total TDs  from Oct. 21, 2017, to the end of last season).
Despite those losses, the Sooners have been as efficient as last year when they set school records for total offense, yards per play, passing yards per game, completion percentage and passing efficiency rating. The offensive line has been instrumental to OU’s success on that side of the ball.
Oklahoma’s starting line has featured redshirt junior left tackle Bobby Evans (13 starts), senior left guard and Outland Trophy semifinalist Ben Powers (12 starts), redshirt freshman center Creed Humphrey (11 starts), senior right guard Dru Samia (13 starts) and redshirt junior right tackle Cody Ford (13 starts). Redshirt senior Jonathan Alvarez also started two games at center and one at left guard.
Oklahoma leads the country in points per game (49.5) and yards per contest this season (577.9) despite ranking tied for 107th out of 130 teams in plays per game (just 66.1). OU is also averaging 0.71 points per offensive play. Going back to 1996, the highest end-of-season figure was 0.69 by 2013 national champion Florida State.
Five times already this season the Sooners have recorded at least 300 rushing and at least 300 passing yards in a game. The feat had only been accomplished six times in program history entering the year.
The Sooners also rank second in the Big 12 by allowing just 1.23 sacks per game (the leader allows 1.17 per contest).
The Joe Moore Award voting committee comprises 13 former linemen, coaches, talent evaluators and media analysts. This group conducts in-depth analysis by reviewing game tape every week of the season to assess both the fundamentals and subtleties of overall offensive-line performance.
The 2018 voting committee includes Chairman Cole Cubelic (Auburn, SEC Network); Charles Arbuckle (UCLA, Indianapolis Colts); Randy Cross (UCLA, San Francisco 49ers); Gerry DiNardo (Notre Dame, head coach at LSU); Mike Golic, Jr. (Notre Dame, ESPN); Dave Harding (Duke, Blue Devil Network); Pat Hill (head coach at Fresno State, O-line coach at Atlanta Falcons); Barrett Jones (Alabama, St. Louis Rams); Duke Manyweather (Humboldt State, player and coach); Geoff Schwartz (Oregon, Carolina Panthers); Phil Steele (publisher of Phil Steele’s College Football Preview, ESPN); Aaron Taylor (Notre Dame, Green Bay Packers); and Lance Zierlein (NFL draft analyst, NFL.com).
A vote will now be held to select the 2018 recipient of the Joe Moore Award by a voting body of 200-plus members. The voting body includes all current offensive line coaches at the Division I FBS level, as well as former players, coaches, colleagues of Coach Joe Moore and select media members. The voting committee will announce the recipient after a surprise visit to the winning university’s campus in late December.
Past recipients of the Joe Moore Award include the offensive lines of the University of Alabama (2015), the University of Iowa (2016) and the University of Notre Dame (2017).
The Joe Moore Award is named after Joe Moore, widely regarded as one of the best offensive line coaches in college football history, most notably for his work at Notre Dame and the University of Pittsburgh. Moore sent 52 players on to the NFL. The Joe Moore Award trophy is the largest trophy in college football, standing six-feet tall and weighing 800 pounds. The perpetual trophy is made available for display by the winning university until the conclusion of the following college football season.
No. 4 Oklahoma will make its 52nd bowl appearance when it takes on No. 1 Alabama in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl on Dec. 29 at 7 p.m. CT. The game will be televised by ESPN.