Surging Sooners on pace to set scoring records
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Big scoring numbers have always been a bragging point around the Oklahoma program.
Barry Switzer was the first coach who brought "hanging half-a-hundred" on an opponent into the common vernacular during the 1970s. And before that, coaches like Bud Wilkinson and Bennie Owen also had their own offensive binges that helped make the Sooners the scourge of defenses everywhere back in the day.
But all of those great teams in Sooners history might pale compared to the current Oklahoma team, which is riding a sizzling offensive wave into Saturday's Big 12 Championship Game against Missouri.
The Sooners have scored at least 61 points in each of their last four games and have scored at least 45 points in all but two games.
Quarterback Sam Bradford leads a group of seven Sooners who were chosen to the coaches' All-Big 12 offensive team. And the group collectively might be the most balanced attack in the history of the conference.
"Our quarterback is good with the ball and we don't make a lot of bad decisions," Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said. "Our running game has made some plays. We've got some nice receivers. Our line is productive. I'd like to say it's fancy planning, but it's not. It's just the kids executing and a great quarterback managing the whole thing."
The Sooners enter Saturday's game with 640 points for the season, a total that has been eclipsed by only five teams in the last 106 seasons of college football history.
If the Sooners can maintain their 53.3 point per game clip in the Saturday's championship game and a bowl game, it will make them one of three teams in college football history to score more than 700 points in a season. And a huge finish might provide them with an outside shot to break the college football single-season scoring record of 765 points, set by Harvard in 1886.
Of course, scoring rules are much different today than for those 19th-century teams. But it's an indicator that there may have never been a more balanced team in modern football than the current Sooner squad.
Bradford is the most prolific quarterback in recent college football history. He's surrounded by a bevy of receiving talent, the nation's most athletic tight end in Jermaine Gresham, two steady running backs who complement each other and an offensive line that featured three first-team All-Big 12 selections and another that made second team.
"It's been the efficiency," said Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, who has been amazed by the balance of his team. "You have skill guys who can spread it out all across the field. It's kind of hard to isolate on just one guy."
It starts with Bradford, a quarterback who has been sizzling all season long in his second season as a starter. He's totaled 4,080 yards and 46 touchdowns as he's developed into the best quarterback that Stoops said he's ever coached.
"The guy is just incredible," Stoops said. "Not only in his scoring on his drives but he's hitting his passes. He's an amazing performer last week. He was diving for the end zone. He has all the courage and toughness in the world. He's as tough and competitive as they come."
The combination of DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown provide almost an ideal balance in the backfield. Murray, the team's strongest outside running threat, leads the team with 1,002 yards and has scored 14 touchdowns. And Brown, a between-the-tackles slasher, has added 988 yards and shares the conference lead with 17 rushing touchdowns.
"Everybody knows they'll get their touches and have their chance to make things happen," Murray said. "We know we have a lot of weapons that can help us. And people aren't worried about the individual prize, but a much bigger one for the team."
The Sooners have six different receivers with at least 24 catches. And among the five wide receivers or tight ends who make up that group, all have yards-per-catch averages of at least 16.0.
But as impressive as the numbers have been, the Sooners have brought something extra this season that was forged after back-to-back upset bowl losses the last two seasons.
"This is a senior group that lost its opening game here in 2005," Wilson said. "They were embarrassed and had some things not go their way in 2005, 2006 and in the bowl games.
"But it's a very hard group. It's a group when I look them in the eye, they look right back at me. I have a lot of respect for them. And that's why this team might be a little different than some of the others we've had around here."