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Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Oklahoma season review

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Many thought the Sooners' hopes for a Big 12 South Division championship had been extinguished after a loss to Texas on Oct. 11.

In fact, coach Bob Stoops' team was only getting started.

The 11-1 Sooners answered that loss with a remarkable turnaround to sprint to an unprecedented third straight Big 12 title.

Sam Bradford earned the Heisman Trophy as he became the first quarterback in Big 12 history to lead his team to back-to-back titles. The Sooners also boasted a pair of 1,000-yard backs in DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown, six receivers with at least 27 receptions and an offensive line dotted with future NFL players.

That group enabled the Sooners to finish the season by scoring 60 or more points against their final five opponents -- three of them ranked teams. The Sooners are also the first modern-day team in history to score 700 points in a season.

The defense struggled with new players and injuries but seemed to develop some swagger late in the season with strong performances against Texas Tech and Missouri. That late strength of schedule helped push the Sooners into the BCS title game against Florida.

Offensive Player of the Year: QB Sam Bradford. Operating the Sooners' new no-huddle offense with precision, Bradford passed for 4,464 yards, a nation-leading 48 touchdown passes against only six interceptions and a 10.1 yard-per-attempt average. And his leadership was unmatched. After the Texas loss, Bradford finished his final seven games with a salty 25-to-1 touchdown/interception ratio to lead the Sooners' title charge.

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Travis Lewis. The remarkable redshirt freshman earned a starting position late in fall practice and didn't look back once the season started. Lewis, a converted running back from high school, was the Sooners' most productive defender, finishing with a team-leading 135 tackles, 12 tackles for losses, 3.5 sacks, four interceptions and six double-digit tackle games.

Turning point: The Sooners' loss to Texas only served as inspiration for continued improvement during the rest of the season. The Sooners finished on a seven-game winning streak to charge to the Big 12 championship, scoring 45 or more points and producing at least 508 yards of total offense in every game after their loss.

What's next: The Sooners already took advantage of their favorable tiebreaker position to claim their third straight Big 12 title. And now they can look at slaying some ghosts that have haunted them in four consecutive BCS bowl losses. The Sooners will have to do it without Murray, who will miss the bowl with a hamstring injury, but still should have enough talent to challenge Florida.