Mayfield, Westbrook Named Heisman Trophy Finalists
NORMAN — For the first time since 2004 and for the fifth time ever, a school has produced a pair of official Heisman Trophy finalists in the same season.
Oklahoma accomplished the feat Monday when quarterback Baker Mayfield and wide receiver Dede Westbrook were named finalists for college football's most prestigious individual award.
Joining Mayfield and Westbrook on the list of finalists who will be in New York for this weekend's Heisman Trophy festivities are Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, Michigan linebacker/defensive back Jabrill Peppers and Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson. The winner will be announced Saturday during a 7 p.m. CT ceremony at the PlayStation Theater in Times Square that will air live on ESPN.
Mayfield and Westbrook are the fifth and sixth Sooners to become Heisman finalists in the 18-year Bob Stoops era and first since Sam Bradford in 2008. Others were Josh Heupel (2000), Jason White (2003 and 2004) and Adrian Peterson (2004). Mayfield finished fourth in Heisman balloting last year but was not invited to New York as a finalist.
Mayfield leads the nation in pass efficiency rating (197.8; the NCAA single-season record is 191.8; next highest Power 5 figure this year is 176.5), completion percentage (71.2) and yards per pass attempt (11.1; only one other player is above 10.0). No player has ever finished a season as the national leader in each of those categories.
The redshirt junior from Austin, Texas, also ranks third nationally in points responsible for (22.3 per game) and yards per completion (15.6), and fourth in passing TDs (38). His 22 completions of at least 40 yards are second most in the country, but the leader, who has 23, has played one more game.
Mayfield, who began his career at Texas Tech as a walk-on before transferring to Oklahoma also as a walk-on, directed the Sooners to their second straight Big 12 championship this year, as they became the first team to ever go 9-0 in regular season Big 12 play.
He has thrown for an average of 305.8 yards per game and has a career-high 38 touchdown passes against eight interceptions (4.8 ratio). He was even better in league play, leading all quarterbacks in passing TDs (31; next most was 27; third most was 20), completion percentage (.735; next best was .641) and pass efficiency rating (208.9; next best was 158.8). He accounted for at least four touchdowns in seven of OU's nine Big 12 games and three in each of the other two contests.
Westbrook, meanwhile, has been perhaps the most electric player in the nation this season. The senior from Cameron, Texas, who is also one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award (outstanding receiver), was rated by ESPN last week as college football's No. 1 player. He leads all Power 5 players in receiving TDs per game (1.33) while ranking second in receiving yards (1,354) and third in receiving yards per game (123.1). He also leads nation in receptions of 20-plus yards (26), 50-plus yards (7), 60-plus yards (6) and 70-plus yards (3).
Of his 1,465 receiving yards, 1,311 have come in the last nine games, as have all of his school-record 16 receiving touchdowns. Slowed by a hamstring injury in the season's first three games, he recorded at least 100 receiving yards in eight of OU's nine Big 12 games and 88 in the other.
Westbrook's 16 receiving touchdowns have covered an average of 48.8 yards, the highest average in the last 21 years among all FBS players with at least 12 TDs in a season. His 12 offensive TDs of at least 40 yards are the most in one season by an FBS player since at least 1996.
Westbrook, who is just the eighth wide receiver to be named a Heisman finalist or win the award (the Heisman Trust didn't start announcing finalists until 1982), led the Big 12 in conference play in receiving yards (145.7 per game; the next highest average was 95.7) and points (11.6 per game).
Mayfield and Westbrook are looking to become the sixth Heisman Trophy winner in OU history. Billy Vessels won in 1952, Steve Owens in 1969, Billy Sims in 1978, White in 2003 and Bradford in 2008. Only three schools (Notre Dame 7, Ohio State 7 and USC 6) have produced more Heisman Trophy winners than the Sooners. The next most is three (by six schools).
The last time a school had two Heisman Trophy finalists (that are currently recognized) in the same year was 2004 when Oklahoma (Adrian Peterson and Jason White) and USC (Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush) both did it. It also happened in 2002 (Miami's Willis McGahee and Ken Dorsey) and 1994 (Penn State's Ki'Jana Carter and Kerry Collins).
OU, which behind Mayfield and Westbrook ranks third nationally in scoring offense (44.7 points per game) and total offense (557.3 yards per game), will make its 50th bowl appearance when it takes on Auburn in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2 in New Orleans.