The second week in December offers an opportunity for reflection as well as look ahead. The Sooners are busy preparing for their Rose Bowl playoff matchup with the Georgia Bulldogs. But, it’s still an opportunity to look back at the season that was. Polarizing figures, impressive single-game performances, and late game drama were all part of the 2017 Oklahoma football season. Join us as we look back and hand out some hardware in our Oklahoma Sooners Post-Season awards for 2017.
Oklahoma over Ohio State, 31-16.
If an award can be a difficult and an easy choice simultaneously, this one was it. The Bedlam game against Oklahoma State got careful consideration. As did either matchup against TCU that helped to propel the Sooners to the playoffs. But, without this win against Ohio State, the playoffs would not have been possible. The Sooners knew they had a great Quarterback, but didn’t know a lot about the rest of the team. That question turned into an emphatic exclamation point as Oklahoma cruised to a dominating win over the Buckeyes.
Marquise Brown 77-yard touchdown against Oklahoma State
The Sooners knew early on they would have to battle hard in their annual Bedlam matchup against Oklahoma State. This game turned into a slugfest that Rocky Balboa and Ivan Drago would have endorsed. This was the pronouncement of “Hollywood” to the College Football world. Brown set a single-game receiving record for a receiver at the University of Oklahoma with 265 yards receiving and two touchdowns. The final reception was a 77-yard score that sealed the Bedlam win and put Hollywood Brown in the record books.
Best Record-Breaking Performance
Baker Mayfield‘s 598 yards passing against Oklahoma State
The superlatives are strong when discussing Baker Mayfield. Through his career at Oklahoma, he has played his best in the biggest games of the year. 2017 was no exception for Mayfield. In a game that would eliminate the loser from a shot at the National Championship, the stakes couldn’t be any higher. Another single-game record was broken as Mayfield became the leader in total yardage in a game with 598 yards. He accounted for six total touchdowns to defeat the Cowboys 62-52.
Best Comeback Player
This was a no-brainer. Rodney Anderson had as tough of a start to a career that a person can have. In 2015, he got hurt against Tennessee while playing on special teams that ended his season. And, last year he injured his neck in fall camp that required him to miss the entire 2016 campaign. As most would expect, Anderson struggled early in trying to get back into game action. He was rusty and tentative to start the first half of the season. Through the first five games, he had just 12 carries for 38 yards. The turning point for Anderson came in the Red River Shootout against Texas. He ran for a 15-yard touchdown run where he showed the toughness and explosiveness that most Sooner fans expected. Showing the Texas game was a turning point since that game as Anderson has run for 878 yards in the final seven games of the season.
Best Player in a Leading Role
Okay, raise your hand if you were in total shock? I know, I know. We floated that softball up there for this award. We all know the many intangibles that pushed Mayfield to be the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner. But, one of those immeasurables has always been his leadership. He has been the unquestioned leader of this team for the last three years. His will to win is greater than we have seen in this sport since Tim Tebow.
Best Player in a Supporting Role
This was so close that we felt that honorable mentions were warranted. With all due respect to Dimitri Flowers who is Mr. Versatility for the Sooner offense with eight scores on 36 touches. And, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo on the defensive side has eight sacks on the season for a much-maligned defense. But, Mark Andrews has been that supporter that the offense has leaned on. Last week, Andrews was given the Mackey Award as the best Tight End in College Football. He has been the security blanket for the Sooners this year and is currently second on the team in receiving yards with 908 yards. Through most of the season, he has been a favorite target for Mayfield, particularly on third down. Look for that to continue in the playoffs and will be critical in the chase for another National Championship.
Best Production Design
A couple of burning questions surrounding the Oklahoma football program at the beginning of the season is how would Lincoln Riley adjust to being the head coach and the offensive coordinator as well as how would they replace the productivity from a year ago. Amazingly, the Sooners have actually been better on the offensive side of the ball than they were in 2016. Any time you lose three players that were the quality of Joe Mixon, Samaje Perine, and Dede Westbrook the expectation was there for a drop-off. Riley has proven this year why he is the best offensive coordinator in the country. Through the ground, Oklahoma has averaged more yards per carry and rushing touchdowns. Meanwhile, through the air, the Sooners have improved upon every statistical category in 2017. The innovation and productivity is a big reason for the Sooners making it back to the playoffs.