Top-20 showdown between Oklahoma and BYU the first game at Cowboys Stadium.
NORMAN, Okla. --
Oklahoma opens the 2009 season on a neutral field, Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, against the Brigham Young Cougars. This is the 115th season of football competition for OU, which played its first game 12 years before the territory of Oklahoma achieved statehood. For only the third time in Bob Stoops' 11 seasons, the Sooners are opening away from Norman.
BYU won the only previous meeting, a 31-6 triumph in the 1994 (Dec. 29) Copper Bowl at Tucson, Ariz. It was the final game in Gary Gibbs' coaching tenure with the Sooners, who were unranked going into the contest. Gibbs had announced his resignation prior to the game. OU was missing starting quarterback Garrick McGee, who had contracted spinal meningitis.
Oklahoma: Bob Stoops (Iowa `83) is 109-24 in his 11th season. He is 72-14 vs. the Big 12, 39-10 vs. the Big 12 South, 33-4 vs. the Big 12 North, 6-1 in the Big 12 title game, 37-10 vs. non-conference opponents, 60-2 at home, 32-11 on the road, 17-11 on neutral fields, 33-12 vs. ranked opponents, 4-6 in bowls. He is 0-0 vs. BYU.
BYU: Bronco Mendenhall (Oregon State `88) is 38-13 in his fifth season at BYU. He is 0-0 vs. Oklahoma.
Oklahoma's all-time record stands at 791-296-53 in 115 seasons. Since WWII, OU leads the nation with 555 victories.
The Sooners have captured seven national championships (1950, 1955, 1956, 1974, 1975, 1985, 2000).
OU has 42 bowl appearances (No. 7 nationally) with 24 bowl victories (No. 4 nationally).
Oklahoma has 42 conference championships, including the last three Big 12 Conference crowns and six Big 12 titles overall (no other league member has more than two)
OU has produced 148 All-Americans and five Heisman Trophy winners. Sooners have also won the Bednarik (1), Butkus (4), Walter Camp (4), Lombardi (3), Maxwell (2), Nagurski (2), O'Brien (3), (Outland (5), Tatupu (1), Thorpe (3) and Unitas (1) Awards.
With 31, 10-win seasons, OU leads the nation in total number of years in which the team achieved double-digit victories.
Oklahoma's best decade for of total victories came in the 1970's when the Sooners were 102-13-3 (.877). In the 2000's, OU is 102-19-0 (.843).
Oklahoma Football History & Tradition
This Week's Opponent
BYU is under fifth-year head coach Bronco Mendenhall. The Alpine, Utah, native is in his first head coaching job.
BYU was 10-3 last season, including a 6-2 mark and third-place finish in the Mountain West Conference. The 2006 and 2007 teams both finished with 11-2 marks, 8-0 first-place finishes in the MWC and Las Vegas Bowl victories.
Ties With This Week's Opponent
Oklahoma quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel, a native of Aberdeen, SD, played two years of junior college football at Snow JC in Ephraim, Utah. He transferred to Oklahoma prior to the 1999 season then quarterbacked OU to the national title in 2000.
BYU offensive coordinator Robert Anae was a Big 12 foe from 2000-04, when he was the offensive line coach at Texas Tech.
BYU offensive line coach Mark Weber was on the UCLA staff when the Bruins played in Norman during the 2003 season. The Sooners won that game, 59-24, as Antonio Perkins set an NCAA game record with three punt returns for touchdowns.
Oklahoma has not had a player from Utah since C.J. Ah You, who lettered in 2005-06. The Highland, Utah, defensive end began his college career at BYU in 2001. He transferred to Snow JC in 2004 before transferring to Oklahoma. He was the defensive MVP in the Sooners' 17-14 victory over Oregon in the 2005 Holiday Bowl.
OU and the Mountain West
Oklahoma is 14-5 against teams from the Mountain West Conference. The most recent of those games took place last season when OU topped TCU in Norman, 35-10. Oklahoma also will host a Mountain West opponent next season when Air Force visits Owen Field.
Sooner Trail Few Series
The fact that Oklahoma trails this series is an oddity. The Sooners have played 129 opponents and have a winning record against 98 of them, a losing mark against 18 and flat-footed .500 standards against 13.
Of the 18 that hold an advantage over OU, 11 lead the series by a 1-0 count, including BYU.
Eight of the 18 schools with series leads over OU have not played the Sooners since 1934.
With its annual AT&T Red River Rivalry game with Texas in Dallas each year, Oklahoma plays far more neutral field games than most programs ...
Oklahoma has played 114 regular season games on neutral fields. The Sooners are 53-56-5 in those contest. Under Bob Stoops, OU is 8-3 in regular season, neutral field games. All of those were against Texas except for a 19-3 win over Kansas at Kansas City in 2005.
Oklahoma is 87-21-6 in season openers including a 43-12-1 mark when playing away from Norman.
Bob Stoops is 9-1 in openers at Oklahoma. The only one not at home was the 2002 game at Tulsa, a 37-0 OU win.
This is the ninth time that Oklahoma has opened a season in the state of Texas, the first since 1993 when the Sooners played at TCU in Fort Worth. That season-opener is one of only two that OU previously played in the Metroplex. The other was 1970 at SMU in Dallas.
This is the 10th time that OU has opened versus a ranked foe, the first since a 34-14 win at No. 19 UCLA in 1990. Oklahoma is 5-4 in openers vs. ranked opponents.
First Time in Arlington
OU has played 90 games in Dallas and five in Fort Worth, but this is the first in the Metroplex city of Arlington.
Bob Stoops' teams are 37-10 against non-conference opponents, 32-4 in regular season non-league games. This is the first time that one of his teams has played a regulars season, non-conference game on a neutral field.
Stoops' Mark Legendary
George Woodruff completed his first 10 years of coaching, all at Penn, in 1901 with 124 victories. That's the only 10-year start that exceeds the 109 games won by Bob Stoops, now in his 11th season at Oklahoma. ...
All but two of Stoops' wins came against FBS programs.
Thirty-two of Stoops' wins, nearly one-third, came against ranked opponents.
Seventy-two of the victories came over Big 12 opponents, including 39 against the Big 12 South.
Forty-nine Stoops wins occurred away from Norman.
Oklahoma and the AP Poll
Oklahoma opens the season ranked No. 3 in the first Associated Press poll. Here is a look at OU's history in the poll, which began in 1938 ...
Oklahoma has appeared in the AP poll in 62 of its 74 seasons of existence (84%). There have been 990 polls released and OU has appeared in 679 of those (69%).
The Sooners are in the preseason top five for the 30th time and in the preseason top 25 for the 51st time.
Oklahoma has numerous marquee non-conference opponents coming up on future schedules ...
Florida State (2010), at Florida State (2011)
Notre Dame (2012), at Notre Dame (2013)
Tennessee (2014), at Tennessee (2015)
Ohio State (2016), at Ohio State (2017)
LSU (2018), at LSU (2019).
Under Bob Stoops, Oklahoma has already played Louisville, Notre Dame, North Carolina, Alabama (twice), UCLA (twice), Oregon (twice), Washington (twice), South Florida, Miami (Fla.) and Cincinnati in regular season contests.
Sooners in Domes
The roof on Cowboys Stadium will be closed for this game. That will make this OU's ninth all-time game in a dome. The Sooners are 4-4 in previous indoor contests.
FB Facilities Get Upgrade
The $15 million Phase IV of the Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium was completed this summer and included the following ...
A 9,000 square-foot football locker room, including grooming areas, cold-plunge hydrotherapy, and lounge.
A 10,000 square-foot athletic training space.
A 6,500 square-foot equipment room.
A 4,000 square-foot team meeting room equipped with the latest technology, sound and video equipment and seating for more than 200 added to the more than 8,000 square feet of existing team meeting rooms.
Expansion of and upgrades to the SoonerVision studio and production facilities.
Stoops Era Yielding Record Attendance
Oklahoma has drawn 4,909,241 fans for Bob Stoops' 62 home games (started in 1999) and all have been sold out.
The Sooners are 60-2 on Owen Field under Stoops and have won 24 straight, one shy of the school record (ended in `53).
The current string of sellouts is the second longest in school history, trailing a string of 69 from 1971-84.
The average home attendance of 85,075 in 2008 was a school record. The top nine seasons for football attendance at Oklahoma came on Stoops' watch.
The largest home crowd in school history was 85,646, on hand for the 2008 OU-Texas Tech game.
Oklahoma has exceeded its listed seating capacity of 82,112 at Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in 36 consecutive home games.
Oklahoma has played before sellout crowds in 108 of the 133 games (home, away, neutral) since Stoops became the head coach. During that time, a total of 9,737,252 (average of 73,212) have watched the Sooners. The figure should move above 1 billion some time in the 2009 campaign.
Oklahoma Sets Attendance Records at Memorial Stadium
|| About the Offense
Under Stoops, OU produced its career leader in passing and receiving, its No. 3 and No. 5 career rushers and school record holders for season rushing, passing and receiving yards.
Of 81 offensive records at OU, 54 were set under Stoops.
OU scored a TD in every game since Nov. 7, 1998.
OU has rushed for 200 yards 41 times under Stoops, 35 in the last five years.
Also under Stoops, OU has 139 touchdowns of 25+ yards and 283 scoring drives of 2:00 or less.
OU is the highest scoring program in college football history. In 1,140 games, the Sooners have scored 30,435 points, or 26.7 per game. Michigan has 29,532 points in 1,203 games and Nebraska 29,441 in 1,200.
Oklahoma returns its top seven rushers and two of its top three receivers from a year ago.
Bradford Wins Heisman
The Oklahoma quarterback became only the third player to lead the nation in passing efficiency for two seasons when he put up a number of 180.84 in 2008.
Bradford completed 328-of-483 passes (.679) for 4,720 yards with 50 touchdowns (led the nation) and 8 interceptions (touchdown to interception ratio of 6:1).
Bradford ranked No. 4 nationally in total offense (340.5) and No. 3 in passing yards (337.1) while playing against seven ranked opponents, and on an offense that also rushed for 198.5 yards/game.
He averaged 14.39 yds./comp., more than one yard above any of the top 40 passers (by yards) nationally.
This is the third time that Oklahoma has returned the Heisman Trophy winner from the previous season.
Jason White, the 2003, winner finished third in the voting for the 2004 honor. USC's Matt Leinart won with OU running back Adrian Peterson second. It is the highest combined finish by two players from the same team.
Billy Sims, the 1978 winner, finished second behind USC running back Charles White in 1979. In an interesting side note relative to the BYU game, Cougar quarterback Marc Wilson finished third that year.
Several players have either changed positions or worked in dual spots in pre-season drills ...
Former linebacker Brandon Crow moved to fullback.
RB Mossis Madu also took snaps at slot receiver.
TE and H-back Brody Eldridge worked at center.
Under Bob Stoops, OU's position changes have a history of working out well. Perhaps the most notable were Jammal Brown's move from defensive tackle to becoming the 2004 Outland winner at offensive tackle, and Paul Thompson, who moved from quarterback to receiver in 2004, then back to quarterback in 2005 when the Sooners won the Holiday Bowl over Oregon (17-14).
About the Offense in 2008
OU scored a school record 99 touchdowns to clip the 80 from 2003.
With 716 points, it was the highest scoring team in the modern era of college football. It also was the first in that span to score 60+ points in five consecutive games.
It was the first team ever to feature a 4,000-yard passer (Bradford) and two 1,000-yard rushers (Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray).
OU set a school record for first-half points with 55 at Kansas State (tied OU mark for points in any half). In the modern era (since 1937), OU has scored 50 or more first-half points four times, twice in 2008. OU scored 35 first-quarter points vs. Nebraska to equal its all-time one-period best vs. Big 12 foes. For the first time, OU scored 28+ points four times in a quarter (three in the first quarter).
The Sooners went over 500 total yards 10 times, over 600 four times. The best total was 674 yards against Kansas, the most yardage by OU since piling up 829 against Kansas State in 1988.
OU ran 97 plays vs. Kansas, its highest total since 1975.
OU had 18 scoring drives of 60 seconds or less.
Oklahoma scored on its first drive in 11 games with nine touchdowns and two field goals.
There were five games last season in which six OU players scored in the same game.
OU had 39 first downs vs. Missouri, 36 vs. Kansas, 32 vs. Texas Tech, 30 vs. Cincinnati.
Gresham on Threshold
The Sooner tight end has a shot at becoming the most prolific touchdown receiver ever among college tight ends. The senior enters the 2009 season with 26, which is just seven shy of the mark of 33 set by Ibn Green of Louisville from 1996-99. Missouri's Chase Coffman holds the Big 12 mark at 30.
Gresham already has more TD receptions than any TE at Oklahoma. During the BCS title game, he broke Keith Jackson's career mark for receiving yards by a tight end. Gresham now has 1,629 yards.
OU is missing four starters from last year's offensive line.
The four players who are not back started a total of 148 games at Oklahoma. Three are on currently on NFL rosters -- OT Phil Loadholt (Vikings), C Jon Cooper (Vikings) and OG Duke Robinson (Panthers).
The returning OU offensive linemen have 44 games played and 22 starts.
OU returns two linemen with starting experience, tackle Trent Williams and guard Brian Simmons. Williams has 20 career starts, 19 at right tackle and one at left tackle (2008 season opener). The Sooners also will have for the first time the services of LSU transfer Jarvis Jones, a tackle.
|| About the Defense
OU forced at least one turnover in 117 of Bob Stoops' 133 games and has at least one interception in 87 of the last 115; multiple picks in 40 of the last 86 outings.
Oklahoma has nine shutouts under its current head coach. Opponents failed to score more than seven points 29 times and scored less than 14 in 56 games.
Defense Trends Upward
A rugged schedule didn't stops Oklahoma's defense from trending upward last season ....
In 2008, Oklahoma played nine of the top 50 offenses in the nation and nine (four of the top six) in the top 50 in scoring. Of those nine that ranked among the top 50 in scoring, only three exceeded their averages against OU. Texas scored 45 (avg. 42.38), Kansas State scored 35 (avg. 34.92) and Oklahoma State scored 41 (avg. 40.77). The other six scored a combined 84.38 under their averages or 14.1 points per game.
Perhaps the most encouraging facet of the season came in the last two games, the Big 12 title game against Missouri and the BCS Championship game against Florida. The Sooners held those two teams 21 and 24 points, respectively, below their season scoring averages while forcing five turnovers (four interceptions).
Travis Lewis enjoyed a banner redshirt freshman season at weak side linebacker. He led the team with 144 tackles, a figure that ranked No. 4 nationally.
Lewis eclipsed Brian Bosworth's OU record for tackles by a freshman. The Boz had 133 (12 games).
Lewis also tied Bosworth's single-game freshman tackle mark when he registered 19 against Texas.
The sophomore still has his work cut out if he hopes to impact the career list at Oklahoma. Daryl Hunt owns that mark with 530 stops. To crack the top 10, Lewis would have to eclipse Lee Roy Selmon's total of 335.
Last season, Oklahoma converted 22 of 34 takeaways into touchdowns, including two that the defense returned to the end zone. That conversion rate is .647.
The Sooners turned a turnover into a touchdown in nine of 14 games last season.
The Sooner offense made quick work when its defensive counterparts came up with a takeaway with 20 ensuing scoring drives. The average of those drives was 3.9 plays, 33.5 yards in 1:36.
There's a Sam on Defense Too
Sam Proctor, a safety, will start on defense. He is the only starter on defense who enters this season with no career starts. The soph was a first-team All-Big 12 Academic selection last season.
Oklahoma introduced two new starting cornerbacks last season, but it was tough to tell. Brian Jackson finished as the team's No. 5 tackler (72) and had 10 pass deflections to go with three fumble recoveries and a pair of interceptions. Dominique Franks scored two touchdowns on returns and logged 42 tackles and 10 pass deflections, the latter of which tied with Jackson for the team lead.
The Real McCoy
A front runner for several national awards, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, still just a junior, is the most experienced player on the defense with 23 career starting assignments, five more than Auston English.
The Sooners intercepted Tim Tebow twice in last year's BCS title game and McCoy had one of those with a 12-yard return. Now, both of OU's starting defensive tackles have a career interception. Adrian Taylor picked off a Baylor pass in 2007 and ran it back 18 yards.
Including the ends, OU defensive linemen have had a pass interception in each of the last five seasons with three by tackles.
Oklahoma's stable of defensive ends is truly an impressive group. Frank Alexander, Jeremy Beal and Auston English all have extensive starting experience ...
The trio has combined for 58 career games played, 40 starts, 177 tackles, 49.5 tackles for 253 yards in losses and 27 sacks for 200 yards in losses.
English is the only senior in the group. Alexander is a freshman and Beal a junior.
Eight different players accounted for Oklahoma's 19 interceptions last season. Six of those players return. That's also true of 17 of the squad's top 20 tacklers.
OU surrendered 343 points last season, 28 of those were scored on special teams plays.
|| About the Special Teams
Oklahoma's special teams under Bob Stoops ...
There have been 26 special teams touchdowns, including 20 in the last 69 regular season games. Those 20 came via five different kinds of plays -- 11 punt returns, two faked field goals, two blocked punts, four kickoff returns and a faked punt. Special teams also own one safety in that span.
Oklahoma has returned eight kickoffs and 15 punts for touchdowns.
The Sooners have blocked 21 kicks.
Many Happy Returns
Information on returns during the Stoops era ...
Kickoff Returns --88 returns of 25 yards or more with eight touchdowns.
Punt Returns -- 53 returns of 15 or more yards with 15 touchdowns.
Interception Returns -- 76 returns of 10 or more yards with 21 touchdowns.
Fumble Returns -- five returns of 15 or more yards with six touchdowns.
OU Among Best in KO Returns
After leading the nation in kickoff returns in 2007, OU ranked No. 5 (No. 1 in the Big 12 for a second straight season) in 2008.
DeMarco Murray paced that effort with a 27.64-yard average, which ranked No. 10 nationally. Juaquin Iglesias, who completed his eligibility as the leader in OU career kickoff return yards, averaged 23.75.
The team had 12 kickoff returns of more than 30 yards, including 11 by Murray, who reeled off a pair of 68-yarders.
Not Bad on Punt Returns Either
At 9.9 yards per punt return, Ryan Broyles had the best average by a Sooner since Antonio Perkins, one of the most prolific punt returners in NCAA history, averaged 12.1 in 2003. Broyles' longest return was a 68-yarder for a touchdown at Kansas State.
This Year's Return Specialists
Dominique Franks and Ryan Broyles are slated for kickoff return duties this season. Both are experienced return specialists, although none have come in kickoffs. The pair combined for 30 kickoff returns last season (Broyles 24 for a 9.9-yard average and Franks 6 for a 5.8-yard average. This year, they'll take their turn on kickoffs.
DeMarco Murray led Oklahoma in kickoff returns last season with 28. He was injured on the opening kickoff of last season's Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship Game against Missouri. He is fully recovered from that ailment, but is not on the depth chart for kickoff returns.
getting his way at punter
Oklahoma has a new punter after Mike Knall, a two-year starter, wrapped up his eligibility. He was the only Sooner with a punting attempt last season (54 attempts).
Tress Way, a kicker and punter, redshirted last season and won the job during preseason competition.
The second-team punter is transfer wide receiver Cameron Kenney. At Garden City (Kan.) Community College last season, Kenney had a 47-yard punting average. He may also get a look at place-kicker after converting 11-of-13 extra point attempts and 8-of-9 field goal opportunities, including makes from 40, 41 and 52 yards for the Broncbusters. Kenney is listed as a back-up receiver on the depth chart.
Oklahoma has not a position player in a kicking role since DB Darrol Ray punted in 1978.
Stevens Back at Kicker
Sophomore Jimmy Stevens returns at placekicker and is on the watch list for the Lou Groza Award.
Stevens made 8-of-12 field goals last season with a long of 42 yards at Texas A&M. He set a school record with 94 point after touchdown conversions.
Steven ranked second on the team in points with 118. Chris Brown, with 21 touchdowns, scored 126 to lead the team. Brown became the first running back to lead the team in scoring since 2005 when Adrian Peterson did so with 14 touchdowns. Brown's TD total was the best by a Sooner since Billy Sims got 23 in 1979.
The back-up for placements is punter Tress Way. Way is also the back-up for kickoffs.
Matthew Moreland, who handled kickoffs last season, looks to be in that role again this season. Moreland had 121 kickoffs with 15 touchbacks and only two out of bounds last season. Way is Moreland's back-up.
Whitson Holding Steady
Wide receiver Carter Whitson is back for another year as the holder for place kicks. A quarterback for part of his high school career, Whitson is the first holder to serve in that role for back-to-back seasons.
Whitson's back-up is quarterback John Nimmo, a steady golfing partner with Sam Bradford.
Ben Hampton is in his second season of snapping for placements. He also is slated to handle the placements for punts this season.
The back-up snapper is WR James Winchester, whose sister, Carolyn, wrapped up her eligibility with the OU women's basketball team last season. James and Carolyn's father, Mike, was a punter at OU and lettered from 1984-85.
|| Notes on the Sooners
Got five starting assignments after Auston English was sidelined by an injury, yet still managed to earn honorable mention All-Big 12 honors.
LB Mike Balogun:
Forced by injury into a starting role in the 2008 national championship game and responded with six tackles.
DE Jeremy Beal:
No interceptions last season, but got his hands on the ball seven times with four PBU and three fumbles forced.
LB Austin Box:
A HS quarterback, he averaged nearly four tackles per game in his first season as a college linebacker ... missed the Big 12 title game and BCS Championship due to injury.
QB Sam Bradford:
Averaged one interception every 51.5 passing attempts and one touchdown every 9.6 attempts during his career.
OT Cory Brandon:
The starter at right tackle ... had not started prior to this season, but had seen action in 15 games.
RB Chris Brown:
Called "Every Down Brown," by some in the program, a testament to his durability ... with 34 career touchdowns, he is just one away from cracking OU's all-time top 10.
WR Ryan Broyles:
Averaged more yards per reception last season (14.9) than any other returning player on the team.
WR Brandon Caleb:
The most physical of Oklahoma's receivers, he played in 12 games last season with four grabs for 52 yards.
FS Quinton Carter:
Physical player who worked extensively as a back-up in `08.
FB Matt Clapp:
Reigning All-Big 12 fullback ... had more receptions (9) than rushing attempts (7) last season.
FB Brandon Crow:
Converted LB, who is in his first season at the new position.
C/TE: Brody Eldridge:
A fullback over the first three years of his career, he moves to the center ... All-Big 12 FB in 2007 despite no carries.
DE Auston English:
Was the preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the year in 2008, but missed four games due to injury.
CB Dominique Franks:
Averaged 18.2 yards and scored two touchdowns on the returns of four interceptions and one fumble last season.
OG Stephen Good:
Played in seven `08 games last season as a true freshman.
LB Joseph Ibiloye:
Originally a safety, he has moved to outside linebacker.
OG Jarvis Jones:
Transfer from LSU, who sat out last season ... has worked at both guard and tackle, but is starting at right guard.
WR Cameron Kenney:
Junior college standout, who has practiced at receiver and punter ... also was a placekicker in junior college.
WR Mossis Madu:
Moved from running back to slot receiver during spring drills ... has 15 career receptions for 110 yards.
LB Travis Lewis:
Set OU freshman tackle record (144) last season, which may have overshadowed four interceptions and 108 return yards.
DT Gerald McCoy:
Has the second-longest streak of consecutive starts on the team with 27 (trails only Sam Bradford's 28).
RB DeMarco Murray:
Back from hamstring injuries, one suffered in `08 Big 12 title game and another, to the other leg, during off-season.
SS Sam Proctor:
Only member of the defensive starting line-up that had not started prior to this season ... All-Big 12 Academic in `08.
LB Ryan Reynolds:
Back from a season-ending knee injury that he incurred in last season's Texas game. ... switched from No. 8 to No. 4, his high school number, for this season.
OG Brian Simmons:
Rates as OU's second-most experienced lineman behind Trent Williams ... has seen action in 35 games.
K Jimmy Stevens:
Handles placements only ... on the Lou Groza Watch List.
DT Adrian Taylor:
Steady performer with 15 straight starts.
WR Adron Tennell:
His 61-yard touchdown reception against Miami in 2007 is the third-longest scoring reception among active Sooners.
P/K Tress Way:
Oklahoma's starting punter is also listed as the back-up for placements and kickoffs.
OT Trent Williams:
Oklahoma's most experienced offensive lineman, he moves from right tackle to left for this season ... also started last season's opener at left tackle.