CollegeFootballNews.com 20th Anniversary Top 20 Players
Who were the top 20 players since CFN started in 1998? No. 20, Oklahoma RB Adrian Peterson
CFN Era Top 20 Players: No. 20 Oklahoma RB Adrian Peterson
CollegeFootballNews.com is turning 20 this season, so we’re looking back on the greatest players, games, coaches and more since we first kicked things off back in 1998.
For the Top 20 Players since CFN started, the rules are simple. Who made the biggest impact, who were the most important, and who were ones who made the biggest difference? Who were the defining players of the last 20 years?
Also, nothing before 1998 counts.
Adrian Peterson, RB Oklahoma (2004-2006)
Oklahoma was rolling.
The Sooners came off a great season that ended with a crashing thud, getting shocked by Kansas State in a 35-7 blasting of a Big 12 title game, and then losing to Nick Saban and LSU in the national championship. But OU had established dominance overall in the Big 12, and more importantly, over Texas.
Not only did Oklahoma win four straight in the Red River Rivalry, but it destroyed the Longhorns 65-13 in 2003 – that wasn’t lost on two of the top recruits in the nation, who happened to be from Texas.
Rhett Bomar was considered the No. 1 quarterback prospect and the superstar get of the Sooner class, but Adrian Peterson – who ended up picking OU over USC, where he could’ve shared a backfield with Reggie Bush – was No. 1A.
Bomar showed promise, and eventually was named MVP of the 2005 Holiday Bowl win over Oregon, but he got kicked off the team after getting caught up in an NCAA violation surrounding a reportedly no-show job at a car dealership. He went on to put up massive numbers for Sam Houston State before spending a few years in the NFL.
Meanwhile, Peterson dominated from Day One.
Oklahoma’s Interesting Three Year Run
The true freshman tore up Bowling Green for 100 yards and a score on just 16 carries in the 2004 season opener, and he didn’t stop there with 11 100-yard games, setting NCAA records for a freshman in a 1,925-yard, 15-touchdown season.
Oklahoma went 12-0 in 2004 with a Big 12 Championship, but all good parts to the season came crashing down hard in a 55-19 national title loss in the Orange Bowl to USC and Heisman-winner Matt Leinart.
Peterson finished second in the Heisman voting, while teammate Jason White was third. Shockingly, Peterson missed out on winning the Doak Walker Award, too, as the nation’s best running back – that went to Cedric Benson of Texas.
Peterson missed time in his sophomore season with an ankle problem, but he still ended up rushing for 1,104 yards and 14 scores. With the star RB banged up, OU lost four games, but went on to win the Holiday Bowl.
And then came the big question – was Peterson getting too much unnecessary work?
The coaching staff occasionally kept feeding Peterson the ball in blowouts, and in his junior season, it turned out to be a problem.
Oklahoma was struggling through a 3-2 start to 2006 – including a loss to Texas. With the Week Six game against Iowa State well in hand, Peterson was still in the game, when on his 26th carry he tore off a brilliant 53-yard touchdown run – and broke his collarbone, missing the rest of the regular season.
But the Sooners turned out fine, winning the next seven games and the Big 12 title with Peterson on the sidelines. No. 28 would return for the classic Fiesta Bowl loss to Boise State, but he was held to 77 yards and two scores on 20 carries.
Adrian Peterson: The Legendary Career
Peterson finished his three years at Oklahoma with 4,041 rushing yards and 41 scores, averaging 5.4 yards per carry. He never won a Heisman, and he never took home a Doak Walker, but he was a three-time All-Big 12 performer who turned out to be the best combination of size, power, and blazing speed of any running back in the last 20 years of college football.
CFN 20th Anniversary lists compiled by Rich Cirminiello, Pete Fiutak, Phil Harrison & Russ Mitchell