Sooners Ready To Battle TCU For 3rd Straight Big 12 Title
NORMAN, Oklahoma - No. 3/2/2 Oklahoma (11-1, 8-1 Big 12) goes for its third straight Big 12 title and 11th overall when it faces No. 11/10/12 TCU (10-2, 7-2) Saturday at 11:30 a.m. CT in the Big 12 Championship Game at AT&T Stadium (capacity 64,167) in Arlington, Texas. The game will be televised by FOX with Joe Davis, Brady Quinn, Bruce Feldman and Petros Papadakis announcing.
• Saturday's contest will mark the first Big 12 Championship Game since 2010. OU has more Big 12 Championship Game wins (seven) than any other program has appearances. It has played in eight of the league's 15 title games and owns a 7-1 record. Nebraska ranks second with six Big 12 title game appearances, and Texas ranks third with five. Texas also ranks second with three wins.
• Oklahoma is the only program that has won three consecutive Big 12 titles (2006-08). A win Saturday would give the Sooners their second three-peat.
• This week's game will mark the highest-ranked matchup ever between Oklahoma and TCU in terms of the AP Poll. The previous highest combined ranking came earlier this year (Nov. 11) when No. 5 Oklahoma beat No. 8 TCU, 38-20.
• Five of the six OU-TCU matchups since the Horned Frogs joined the Big 12 have been decided by seven or fewer points. The lone contest that had a margin greater than a touchdown was the Sooners' 38-20 win three weeks ago (Nov. 11).
• Oklahoma owns a 12-5 (.706) all-time record against the Horned Frogs. Since TCU joined the Big 12, the Sooners own a 5-1 series record. TCU's lone victory during the stretch was a 37-33 outcome in 2014 in Fort Worth. OU has won the last three meetings and six of the last seven.
• The Sooners are 55-32-2 (.629) in AP top-10 matchups (2-0 in Big 12 Championship games), and 16-7 (.682) since the start of the 2000 season. They are 36-19 (.655) as the higher ranked team in such games.
• OU has won 24 of its last 25 games against Big 12 foes dating back to the 2015 season. Its only loss came at the hands of Iowa State on Oct. 7 of this year.
• Oklahoma is 65-16 (.802) all-time as the No. 2 team in the AP Poll. The Sooners have won 21 of their past 23 games (.913) when ranked No. 2.
• Baker Mayfield has thrown for 734 yards on 50-of-77 passing (64.9%) with seven TDs and no interceptions in three games against TCU during his OU career. He’s also rushed 33 times for 147 yards (4.5 average) and two more scores. Mayfield did not play in the second half of the Sooners' 30-29 win in 2015 in Norman (injured on last drive of first half).
FIVE KEY STORYLINES
• Saturday's game will pit the nation's most productive offense against one of the nation's best defenses. Oklahoma leads the country in total offense (593.5 ypg), yards per play (8.6), offensive touchdowns (72), passing efficiency rating (206.6), pass completion percentage (72.2) and percent of possessions ending in a touchdown (48.0), and leads the Big 12 in rushing offense (215.8 ypg). TCU ranks second nationally in rushing defense (90.0 ypg) and paces the Big 12 in scoring defense (15.7 ppg; ranks eighth nationally), total defense (317.5 ypg; ranks 18th nationally), passing defense (227.5 ypg) and sacks (3.3 per game; tied for fourth nationally).
• Saturday will mark the seventh time in Big 12 Championship Game history that the contest is a rematch from the regular season. The teams that won the regular season meeting are 4-2 in the title game. OU is a perfect 3-0 in such scenarios, sweeping Kansas State in 2000 (41-31 in regular season and 27-24 in title game), Colorado in 2002 (27-11 and 29-7) and Missouri in 2007 (41-31 and 38-17).
• With an OU win Saturday, Lincoln Riley would become just the fifth coach in FBS history with no previous head-coaching experience at a four-year college to win at least 12 games in his debut season. He would join Chris Petersen (13-0 at Boise State in 2006), Tom Herman (13-1 at Houston in 2015), Larry Coker (12-0 at Miami [Fla.] in 2001) and Bret Bielema (12-1 at Wisconsin in 2006).
• After finishing fourth in Heisman Trophy voting in 2015 and third in 2016, Baker Mayfield has been even better in 2017. Mayfield is 247-for-346 (71.4 percent) through the air with 37 touchdowns and five interceptions (7.4-to-1 ratio). He leads the country with his 203.3 pass efficiency rating (next best among Power 5 QBs is 170.0) after last year setting the FBS single-season record with a 196.4 mark. He also ranks first nationally in pass completion percentage, yards per pass attempt (11.8) and yards per completion (16.6).
• Sophomore running back Rodney Anderson registered 139 yards from scrimmage (23.2 per game) and two touchdowns over OU's first six contests, but over the last six outings has racked up 1,041 yards from scrimmage (173.5 per game) to lead all Power 5 players in that span. He has also scored 14 TDs from scrimmage (nine rushing, five receiving), tied for second most nationally during the span. His 785 rushing yards over the last six games (130.8 average) rank as sixth most nationally. Anderson's freshman season of 2015 ended in the second game due to a broken leg, and his redshirt freshman season of 2016 ended during preseason camp due to a broken bone in his neck.
THREE WEEKS AGO VS. THE HORNED FROGS
• In a battle of first-place Big 12 teams, Baker Mayfield threw for 333 yards and tossed three TD passes without a turnover, and Rodney Anderson registered a career-high 290 all-purpose yards (11th-most in Oklahoma history) and scored four TDs as OU beat TCU 38-20 in Norman on Nov. 11.
• TCU entered the contest allowing just 13.9 points per game and had given up just 24 total points over its last four contests. Oklahoma scored 17 points in the first quarter, and the Sooners' 38 first-half points were the most allowed in a game by TCU since OU's 52-46 win last season (span of 17 contests). OU averaged 11.0 yards per play in the first half (the Horned Frogs were allowing 4.4 per play on the year).
• TCU was also allowing a nation-low 69.7 yards per game entering the night and had not given up a rushing touchdowns over the previous five contests, but OU ran for 96 yards and two scores on 15 carries (6.4 average) in the first half. The Sooners finished the game with 200 rushing yards and two rushing TDs.
• Mayfield was 18-for-27 passing and rushed for 50 yards. The game was his 14th at OU in which he threw at least three TD passes without an interception (he now has 16).
• Anderson, who was named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts, finished with 151 rushing yards and a career-high 139 receiving yards to become the first FBS player since at least 1996 to register at least 139 rushing and 139 receiving yards in a game. He also became just third player in school history with at least 100 rushing yards and 100 receiving yards in a contest, joining Joe Mixon (last year at Texas Tech) and Steve Sewell (1984 vs. Kansas State). The sophomore tied a school record with four TDs in a half with two rushing and two receiving scores in the opening 30 minutes.
• TCU's 20 points marked the fewest allowed by OU in Big 12 play at the time. Marquise Overton led OU with six tackles and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo registered five stops along with a pair of tackles for loss.
• OU started four true freshmen on defense, including a trio of defensive backs who made their first career starts (safety Robert Barnes and cornerbacks Tre Brown and Tre Norwood). The Sooners held TCU to 14-for-29 passing (48.3 percent).
• Junior kicker Austin Seibert made his lone field goal attempt, a then-career-long 49 yarder.
OFFENSE HAS ROLLED UNDER RILEY, MAYFIELD
• Oklahoma has a legitimate claim as 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 and quarterback Baker Mayfield's first playing for the Sooners. Riley called plays as the program's offensive coordinator and continues to as head coach.
• The Sooners have posted a 33-5 (.868) record since Riley's and Mayfield's OU debut (25-2 in Big 12 play), with Mayfield the starter in 37 of 38 contests. That record is tied for third best nationally with Ohio State since the start of 2015. Only Alabama and Clemson (39-3) have better records during that span.
• Since the start of the 2015 season, OU ranks first nationally in passing efficiency rating (188.2; next closest is 164.2 and next closet Power 5 is 160.9), completion percentage (69.6), points per game (44.2) and total offense (558.6), and is fifth in passing offense (333.5; fourth in Power 5) and 18th in rushing offense (225.1; ninth in Power 5).
• In 38 games since the start of the 2015 season, OU has registered at least 500 yards of total offense 28 times, including in 18 of the last 22 outings, topped the 600-yard mark on 14 occasions and gone over 700 yards four times. Similarly, OU has scored at least 30 points in 33 of 38 games during the Riley/Mayfield regime, at least 40 points 24 times, at least 50 points 15 times and at least 60 points four times.
• Four of OU's top five single-game total offense yardage figures since 2000, and six of the top nine have come over the last 30 games (1. 854 at Texas Tech in 2016; 2. 785 at Oklahoma State this season; 3. 773 vs. Tulsa in 2015; 5. 710 at Kansas in 2015; 7. 684 vs. Iowa State in 2015; 9. 676 vs. UTEP this season).
• Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year Baker Mayfield is the only player in FBS history to register at least 13,500 passing yards (14,077) and at least 1,000 rushing yards (1,017).
• In 27 games against Big 12 opponents as a Sooner, Mayfield (who is 24-2 as a starter) has completed 533-of-753 passes (70.8 percent) for 8,254 yards (305.7 per game) and 83 touchdowns against just 14 interceptions (5.9-to-1 ratio) for a pass efficiency rating of 195.5. He has averaged 15.5 yards per completion and 11.0 yards per attempt. Mayfield also rushed for 14 scores in those outings.
• Mayfield has thrown a TD pass in a Big 12-record 38 consecutive games (every contest of his OU career; former mark was 36 by Texas Tech's Graham Harrell from 2006-08). Only two players have longer streaks in FBS history (see charts on page 4). Mayfield also holds the Big 12 record with 25 consecutive games of at least two TD passes (77 TDs to 13 interceptions during the stretch). That is believed to be the second-longest streak in FBS history (Boise State's Kellen Moore had a streak of 26 games in 2010 and 2011).
• Including his 2013 campaign at Texas Tech, Mayfield is averaging 9.78 yards per pass attempt for his career. Only two FBS players who have finished their career boast a higher average (9.90 by Boise State's Ryan Dinwiddie from 2000-03; 9.82 by BYU's Ty Detmer from 1988-91). At OU, Mayfield is averaging 10.70 yards per attempt.
• Mayfield ranks sixth in FBS history with 125 career TD passes (12 at Texas Tech, 113 at Oklahoma). He needs six TD passes to tie Hawaii's Colt Brennan (2005-07) and Marshall's Rakeem Cato (2011-14) for fourth. The record is 155 by Houston's Case Keenum (2007-11).
• Mayfield owns a 175.5 career passing efficiency rating. Among FBS players who have finished their career, only OU's Sam Bradford (175.6 from 2007-09) owns a higher mark. Mayfield's efficiency rating as a Sooner is an astounding 190.3.
• Mayfield has posted a passer rating of at least 160.0 in each of the last 22 games. Since 1996, the next longest streak nationally is 10 games (by four players) 200.
• If Mayfield finishes in the top four of Heisman Trophy voting this year, he'll become the fifth player and first since Georgia's Herschel Walker (1980-82) to accomplish the feat three times. The other three to do it were Glenn Davis (Army; 1944-46), Doc Blanchard (also Army; 1944-46) and Doak Walker (SMU; 1947-49). Mayfield finished fourth in 2015 and third last year.
OFFENSE EVEN BETTER AFTER LOSS OF KEY WEAPONS
• Despite losing three highly accomplished offensive skill players to the NFL Draft in the spring, OU leads the nation in yards per game (588.7) and yards per play (8.3) this year. The departed trio of Biletnikoff Award winner Dede Westbrook (1,524 receiving yards, 18 total TDs last year), Samaje Perine (OU's all-time rushing leader; 1,060 rushing yards, 12 rushing TDs last year) and Joe Mixon (single-season OU record of 2,331 all-purpose yards, 16 TDs last year) accounted for 5,447 all-purpose yards and 47 touchdowns last season.
• Last year the Sooners averaged 7.5 yards per play, the second-highest figure in school history (the 1971 team averaged 7.6), but this year's squad is averaging 1.1 yards more per play. OU's 593.5 yards per game this year are 38.7 more per contest than last season (554.8).
• OU has registered more than 500 yards in 10 of its 12 games this year (490 at Ohio State and 469 at Kansas in the others), and has racked up more than 600 yards in seven contests. OU surpassed the 600-yard mark in four games all of last season.
• Four of the Sooners' top seven all-time single-game yards-per-play figures have come this season (1st – 12.0 vs. West Virginia; 5th – 10.6 at Baylor; 6th – 10.3 at Oklahoma State; and 7th – 10.2 vs. Tulane).
• Fifteen Sooners have scored at least one offensive touchdown this year, three more players than all of last season. Twelve Sooners have made at least one TD catch this year, three more than in 2016.
• Three of Oklahoma's top playmakers on either side of the ball are true freshmen. Running back Trey Sermon ranks second on the team with his 647 rushing yards (53.9 per game) and tied for third with his seven total touchdowns (five rushing, two receiving). Sermon is averaging 5.9 yards per carry and has caught 15 passes for 126 yards (8.4 average). In a three-game span against Baylor, Iowa State and Texas to start Big 12 play, he averaged 111.3 rushing yards and 6.7 yards per carry.
• Wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, who last year as a high school senior registered 2,032 receiving yards and 33 touchdowns, leads the Sooners with seven receiving scores, which is tied for the school freshman record. He ranks third with 40 catches and 61.8 receiving yards per game (741 total). He ranks third nationally among freshmen with his 18.5 yards per catch and needs 45 receiving yards to tie Kenny Stills’ OU freshman record of 786 set in 2010.
• Co-Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year Kenneth Murray has started every game at middle linebacker and ranks second on the team with 65 tackles (5.4 per contest). He is OU's first true freshman in 42 years to start a season opener at inside linebacker (Daryl Hunt was the last to do it in 1975).
• Also seeing more playing time the last few games are true freshman defensive backs Tre Norwood, Tre Brown and Robert Barnes. The trio started the TCU game three weeks ago, and Norwood has earned another two starts since. A cornerback, Norwood is tied for the team lead with seven pass breakups despite not seeing consistent action until four weeks ago.
• Oklahoma ranks in the top four in the Big 12 in a bevy of defensive categories: second in opponent pass completion percentage (57.7), third in passing defense (241.2 ypg), fourth in first downs allowed (20.4 per game), fourth in total defense (390.3 ypg) and fourth in scoring defense (25.7 ppg).
• The Sooners held Ohio State to 16 points (28 below its season average) and 350 yards of total offense (180 yards below its average) in a convincing win Sept. 9 in Columbus. The Buckeyes rank fifth nationally with their 43.8 points per game and fourth nationally with their 529.8 yards per contest.
• Senior defensive end/linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo ranks second in the Big 12 and is tied for 21st nationally with 8.0 sacks (0.7 per game), ranks second in the Big 12 and tied for 17th nationally with three forced fumbles, and ranks second in the league and ninth nationally with 17.5 tackles for loss (1.5 per game). He has 21.0 career sacks to rank second at OU among linebackers and tie for seventh with Jonathan Jackson among all players.
• Okoronkwo has recorded at least half a sack in eight of 12 games and at least one full sack in seven contests. He has at least 1.0 tackle for loss in 11 outings and at least 2.0 TFLs in five games.
• Sophomore defensive lineman Kenneth Mann ranks eighth in the Big 12 with his 5.0 sacks while senior defensive end D.J. Ward is tied for 11th with 4.5 sacks. Parnell Motley is tied for ninth in the league with two interceptions (returned one 77 yards for a touchdown against Tulane).
NO PASSING FANCY
• Oklahoma has held 18 of its last 22 opponents to under a 60 percent pass completion rate. Over the last 17 games, OU opponents have combined to complete just 54.7 percent of their passes (293-for-536), ranking the Sooners second in the Big 12 and 29th nationally out of 129 teams. Seven of those 17 have been held to a mark at or below 50 percent.
• By comparison, OU has completed at least 60 percent of its passes in each of its last 22 games, and at least 70 percent in 11 of those.
• Junior Austin Seibert has masterfully handled OU's placekicking, punting and kickoff duties this season. He is 13-for-15 on field goals (his 86.7 percent conversion rate leads the Big 12 among kickers with more than eight attempts), and his streak of 11 makes is the second-longest active streak in the country (Florida's Eddy Pineiro has made 16 straight). Since Oct. 7, his 79 points are the most nationally by a kicker.
• Seibert leads the nation with his 70 extra-point makes, giving him the OU record for extra-point makes to start a season without a miss.
• Seibert ranks sixth nationally by registering touchbacks on 74.7 percent of his kickoffs (71 of 95). He ranks fourth in the Big 12 by averaging 42.5 yards per punt. Nine of his 34 punts (26 percent) have gone for at least 50 yards.
• Seibert ranks second in OU history with his 212 career extra points, fourth with his 338 career points and is tied for seventh with his 42 career field goals.
SOONERS HAVE DOMINATED BIG 12 ERA
• OU's performance in the Big 12 Conference this millennium has been nothing short of dominant. The Sooners have won 10 Big 12 titles in the last 17 seasons, with no other program during that span winning more than two.
• Since the first year of the Big 12 in 1996, OU has claimed 10 league titles and is followed by Texas (three), Baylor, Kansas State and Nebraska (two each), and Colorado, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas A&M (one each).
• OU is 124-27 (.821) in Big 12 play since the start of the 2000 season. That’s 21 more wins than the team with the next most victories during that period (Texas; 103-48) and 38 more than the team with the third most (Oklahoma State; 86-65).
• Oklahoma leads all FBS programs with its 38 seasons of at least 10 wins and its 24 seasons of at least 11 victories. OU also leads the nation with 15 seasons of double-digit wins since 2000.
• The Sooners have won 24 of their last 25 Big 12 Conference games. Fourteen of those 24 victories have been by at least 15 points (seven by at least 35 points).
• Oklahoma has scored at least 30 points in 21 of its last 22 games (its school-record streak of 15 games was halted Oct. 14 in a 29-24 win over Texas).
• The Sooners have scored a touchdown in the final 13 seconds of the first half in each of the last three games.
• OU's starting offensive line has logged a combined 136 career starts. Left tackle Orlando Brown has made 38 starts, left guard Ben Powers 20, center Erick Wren 22, right guard Dru Samia 32 and right tackle Bobby Evans 24.
• Only four players in the FBS this year have scored at least four rushing touchdowns and at least four receiving touchdowns, and two of the them play are Sooners: Rodney Anderson (7 rushing, 5 receiving) and Dimitri Flowers (4 rushing, 4 receiving). The other players are NC State's Jaylen Samuels (11 and 4) and Washington State's Jamal Morrow (4 and 5).
• Flowers has scored eight touchdowns on his 35 touches this season (one every 4.4).
• Junior Mark Andrews leads the nation's tight ends with his 848 receiving yards this season, while ranking second with 16.6 yards per catch, third with 51 receptions and ninth with six touchdown receptions.
• Of all active FBS players with at least 20 career TD receptions, Andrews owns the second best TD-to-catch ratio at 19.8 percent (20 TDs on 101 catches). The only player with a better ratio is West Virginia's David Sills (20-67; 29.9%).
• In six games this year, backup quarterback Kyler Murray is 18-for-21 passing (.857) for 359 yards and three TDs without an interception for a pass efficiency rating of 276.5. He has also rushed 13 times for 142 yards (10.9 average).