The first round of the NCAA Basketball Tournament is set to tip off on Tuesday night with the first four games. Generally speaking, the first round of the tournament is the most intriguing with the collection of upsets and exciting games. Conversely, we have completed the first round of our journey here on the road the defining the best play at the University of Oklahoma. Now, let’s finish the first round as we produce the results of the Adrian Peterson region as we look at the greatest players in Oklahoma football history.
Adrian Peterson Region First-Round Matchups
(1) Adrian Peterson vs (16) Steve Sewell
Peterson is one of the most ballyhooed players in the history of the program. Even though he did not win a Heisman, he still takes his claim as one of the best running backs ever to play at Oklahoma. In his freshman season, he had the best individual rushing season in school history with 1,925 yards. Despite the fact that he suffered from injury for part of his Oklahoma career, he is still in fourth place in the Sooner rushing record books. On the opposite side, Sewell was a victim of sharing the backfield with some outstanding players. However, he still ran for over 1,100 yards in four seasons which included 560 yards receiving out of the backfield. In 1985, he was drafted in the first round by the Denver Broncos. Having said that, Peterson rolls to an easy victory in this one, 922-29.
Winner: Adrian Peterson
(8) Teddy Lehman vs (9) Mark Clayton
Lehman is one of the best linebackers in the history of the school. In fact, he was on the receiving end of the Superman play as he walked into the end zone off the Chris Sims interception. Now, his senior year of 2003, was his best in a Sooner uniform. He had 117 tackles and 19 of those went for a loss. Also, Lehman was the recipient of the Dick Butkus and Chuck Bednarik awards as the best linebacker and overall best defensive player. Now, while Lehman was making the stops on defense, Clayton was part of an extremely prolific offense. In 2003, Clayton had his best season with 1,425 yards and 15 touchdowns. It’s a rarity in this day and age for the defense to come out on top over the offense. But, that’s exactly what happened here as Lehman pulls out the victory, 473-436.
Winner: Teddy Lehman
(4) Marcus Dupree vs (13) Torrance Marshall
“He was the best player on the field. Earl Campbell was the only other guy I ever saw who was like that—physically ready, as a true freshman, to be the best player on a great college team. Those are the words of Barry Switzer to describe Dupree. He is certainly the best that never was and the most intriguing one year of football in Oklahoma football history. With that, his 1,144 yards in limited action in his first season set the stage for what could have been. On the other side, Marshall was a big part of the Sooners national championship season of 2000. He saved the season with a game-winning interception against Texas A&M. And, he was named MVP of the Orange Bowl against Florida State in a dominating defensive performance. Tournaments like these are often met with controversy. I believe that will ring true in this matchup over any other as Dupree wins 600-288.
Winner: Marcus Dupree
(5) Tony Casillas vs (12) Buster Rhymes
Casillas was one of the best interior linemen for the Sooners in the 1980’s. In fact, in 1984 and 1985 he was elected to back to back All-American teams. He became the second Sooner ever to win the Lombardi award and he concluded his career with 213 career tackles and 18 sacks. Rhymes appeared in 46 games in his Sooner career with about half coming at running back and another half at the wide receiver position. His statistics were nearly identical at both positions in terms of production. He had 1,101 yards rushing and 1,134 yards receiving and reached paydirt 19 times in his Sooner career. However. Rhymes is no match for Casillas in a 654-84 rout.
Winner: Tony Casillas
(6) Jamelle Holieway vs (11) Tinker Owens
Holieway is widely considered not only one of the best option quarterbacks in Sooner football history but that of college football history as well. He led Oklahoma to a National Championship as a freshman in 1985. Holieway was 25-1 as an Oklahoma starter until a knee injury knocked him out against Oklahoma State in 1987. He finished his career with 2,713 yards rushing and 2,430 yards passing and had 54 total touchdowns. Owens was one of the best receivers in the run-heavy era of Sooner football. He was a two-time All-American in 1974 and 1975. His 1,619 total receiving yards still land him in the top 20 for his Sooner career. But, Holieway cruises to a 617-103 win.
Winner: Jamelle Holieway
(3) Sterling Shepard vs (14) Kenny King
Shepard is the epitome of a player that just got better as he got older. From a statistical perspective, he is the second leading receiver in Sooner history. His senior year was the highlight of his career with 86 receptions for 1,288 yards and 15 touchdowns. For having to share a backfield with Billy Sims, King didn’t do too bad for himself. Playing running back and fullback, King ran for 2,300 yards in his career. In fact, he was leading rusher in the 1976 season. Shepard wins an easy one by a score of 557-74.
Winner: Sterling Shepard
(7) J.C. Watts vs (10) Jimbo Elrod
Watts became the starting quarterback for Oklahoma in the 1979 and 1980 seasons and won back to back Orange Bowls for the Sooners. In his best season of 1980, he ran for 663 yards with 18 scores on the ground. Watts led the Sooners to eight consecutive wins that season which culminated with an 18-17 victory over Florida State. Elrod was a member of the National Championship teams of 1974 and 1975. He starred in the 1976 National Championship game as the Oklahoma defense stifled Michigan in a 14-6 victory. Elrod had 20 tackles for loss in the 1975 season which allowed him to secure All-American honors. However, the congressman takes this one over the goal line with a 473-257 win.
Winner: J.C. Watts
(2) Demarco Murray vs (15) David Overstreet
Murray is the best all-purpose running back to wear a Sooner uniform. With all compliments to Joe Washington, nobody has put up the same numbers as Murray. He ranks seventh on the all-time rushing list with 3,685 yards. But, he also ranks 20th on the receiving list with 1,571 yards. And, when you tack on his kickoff returns he has 6,718 total yards with 65 touchdowns in his illustrious career. Overstreet had a very consistent career for the Sooners. He ran for a total of 1,717 yards in his career from 1977-1980. Perhaps his greatest moment in an Oklahoma uniform was against Colorado in 1980 with 258 yards on 18 carries in an 82-42 winning effort. But, this was not a fair matchup as Murray wins easily by a score of 820-62.
Winner: Demarco Murray
For a full list of the matchups and bracket results of the entire first round, please check the link Greatest Players in Oklahoma Football Tournament Bracket.