Best Oklahoma Offensive Player
RB Rodney Anderson, Jr.
Could he possibly live up to the prep hype after suffering a broken neck? The 6-1, 219-pounder was a huge recruit for the program, but he missed all of 2016 and was eased into the 2017 season with just 12 carries in the five games. But for a running game that had to replace Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon, he turned into just the force needed over the second half of the season.
Powerful, quick, and creative when he has to be, he ran for over 100 yards in six of the eight games – the two games he didn’t were blowouts – highlighted by a brilliant 201-yard day against Georgia in the Rose Bowl. He can catch a little bit, and he’ll block, but give him the ball 20 times, let him get 100 yards, and the offense is balanced out.
2. QB Kyler Murray, Jr.
3. OG Ben Powers, Sr.
4. OG Dru Samia, Sr.
5. WR Marquise Brown, Jr.
Best Oklahoma Defensive Player
LB Kenneth Murray, Soph.
A solid recruit, the 6-2, 243-pounder was supposed to ease into his career before becoming a key tackler in the interior of the linebacking corps. That changed quickly, getting in right away as a true freshman and finishing second on the team with 77 tackles with a sack and 7.5 tackles for loss.
He’s not much of a pass rusher – at least, not yet – but he’s a rock-steady force on the inside and a tough open-field tackler. And now he knows what he’s doing.
2. LB Caleb Kelly, Jr.
3. CB Parnell Motley, Jr.
4. DT Marquise Overton, Jr.
5. CB Tre Norwood, Soph.
Key Player To A Successful Season
QB Kyler Murray, Jr.
He’s only 5-10 and 190 points, and he’s probably a better baseball player than a quarterback, and Austin Kendall is right there in the mix for playing time, and …
Kyler Murray might be the most important player in college football.
Oklahoma is more than talented enough to win another Big 12 title and get back to another College Football Playoff, but it has to replace a quarterback who came up with one of the greatest individual seasons in the history of the sport.
No, Murray isn’t Baker Mayfield, but Mayfield isn’t as fast as Murray, who has the Academic All-Big 12 smarts, the athleticism, and the moxie to become yet another great Sooner quarterback. If he’s amazing, Oklahoma wins another conference championship.
Key Game To The Oklahoma Season
Texas, Oct. 6
Oklahoma needs a buffer. In a down year for the conference, it can and should get back to the Big 12 Championship, but the sights are sent higher than that. There’s no Ohio State on the slate – getting Florida Atlantic, UCLA and Army at home isn’t bad – and the four league road games are Iowa State, TCU, Texas Tech and West Virginia. The Sooners can lose once and be just fine, but it can’t lose twice and get to the CFP again.
It took Baker Mayfield being the best player in college football to get by Texas 29-24 last season, and now this rivalry of rivalry games is about to turn into a must-win for Tom Herman and Texas – more than it normally would.
Beat the Longhorns and get to the week off at 6-0 before going to TCU, and everything will be right on track. Lose, and it’ll be a testy second half of the year with a slew of rough games – and no buffer.
2017 Oklahoma Fun Stats
– Total Offense: Oklahoma 8,114 yards – Opponents 5,529 yards
– Onside Kicks: Opponents 2-of-3 – Oklahoma 0-of-0
– Punt Return Average: Opponents 16.4 yards – Oklahoma 5.6 yards