Saturday, Sept. 12 / 6 p.m. CT / Owen Field
• No. 5/6 Oklahoma begins its 126th season of varsity football, and fourth under head coach Lincoln Riley, when it hosts Missouri State on Saturday at 6 p.m. CT at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. The game will be televised on a pay-per-view basis by FOX Sports Oklahoma with Chad McKee, former OU co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Chuck Long and C.T. Steckel announcing.
• Oklahoma is 96-23-6 all-time in season openers and 78-15-4 in home openers at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, which opened in 1923. OU has won 14 straight home openers (last such loss was a 17-10 defeat vs. TCU in 2005).
• OU head coach Lincoln Riley turned 37 on Sept. 5. He is the fifth-youngest FBS head coach.
• OU is the only program to win at least three straight Big 12 titles, and has done so twice (2006-08 and 2015-19). Its current streak of five straight outright league championships is the longest among Power Five programs since Alabama won five in a row from 1971 to ’75 (Clemson is also riding a five-game outright streak [ACC]). The last time the Sooners won at least a share of six consecutive conference championships was 1972-80 under head coaches Chuck Fairbanks (1972) and Barry Switzer. The last current Power Five program to win six straight outright conference titles is Oklahoma (12 in a row from 1948 to ’59).
• This marks the 21st straight season the Sooners have been ranked in the preseason AP poll. They have been ranked seventh or better in 16 of the last 20 preseason polls. OU has also ended each of the last five seasons ranked in the AP top seven (first time since 2000-04 under head coach Bob Stoops).
• Oklahoma is the only FBS program to rack up 17 seasons of double-digit wins since 2000. OU also leads all FBS programs with its 40 all-time 10-plus-win seasons, and with its 26 campaigns of at least 11 victories.
• OU is coming off a third straight 12-2 season in which it won its fifth consecutive Big 12 championship and made its third College Football Playoff appearance in a row (fourth in five years). The Sooners, who finished No. 6 and No. 7 in the final coaches’ and AP polls, respectively, produced consensus All-America wide receiver CeeDee Lamb and Heisman Trophy runner-up Jalen Hurts (quarterback).
• FCS and Missouri Valley Football Conference member Missouri State went 1-10 last season before hiring former Louisville, Arkansas, Western Kentucky and Atlanta Falcons head coach Bobby Petrino in January. Petrino owns a 119-56 (.680) collegiate head coaching record in 14 seasons.
• Oklahoma has won more Big 12 championships over the last 21 years (13) than it has lost home games. OU is 119-10 (.922) at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium since the start of the 1999 season, with all 129 of those games sellouts. It is the best home winning percentage among Power Five schools over the last 21 seasons (Ohio State is next at .892). OU has outscored its opponents by an average of 43-17 in those games. No school has won more than two Big 12 titles since the Sooners won their first in 2000.
• Lincoln Riley owns the OU records for wins by a head coach in a debut season (12; previous record was 10 by Barry Switzer and Chuck Fairbanks), first two seasons (24; previous record was 21 by Switzer) and first three seasons (36; previous record was 32 by Switzer). Switzer holds the record for wins in the first four seasons of an OU career with 41 (1973-76).
• OU redshirt freshman quarterback Spencer Rattler is scheduled to make his first collegiate start Saturday. The consensus No. 1 national quarterback in the class of 2019, Rattler appeared in three games last season, completing 7 of 11 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown without an interception. He also ran three times for 23 yards. The 2018 Elite 11 MVP was the No. 9 overall national recruit by 247Sports, No. 13 by Rivals and No. 29 by ESPN. He threw for an Arizona state-record 11,083 yards in his career (116 passing touchdowns) while running for over 1,000 yards (14 TDs). Rattler will be OU’s fourth opening-game starting QB in four seasons (Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray won the Heisman Trophy while Jalen Hurts was Heisman runner-up).
• Oklahoma has ranked in the top seven nationally in total offense each of Riley’s five years calling plays and in the top three each of the last four seasons (7th in 2015 [530.2 ypg]; 2nd in 2016 [554.8]; 1st in 2017 [579.6]; 1st in 2018 [570.3]; and 3rd in 2019 [537.6]). On paper, posting similar numbers in 2020 might appear difficult, as the Sooners return just 12.9% of their total offense from last season, 6.9% of their passing yards, 20.4% of their rushing yards and 43.7% of their receiving yards. OU does, however, return all five offensive line starters from 2019.
• The Sooners are 9-3 against programs currently in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), but have played only five such games since the start of the 1952 season. In those five contests, Oklahoma beat Indiana State 49-0 in 1999 (Bob Stoops’ first game as OU head coach), Chattanooga 57-2 in 2008, Idaho State 64-0 in 2009, Florida A&M 69-13 in 2012 and South Dakota 70-14 last year. That’s a combined total of 309-29. OU is 3-2 against Drake (games played between 1920 and ’26) and 1-1 versus William & Mary (games played in 1942 and ’51).
• Oklahoma returns 15 players (not including specialists) who started at least eight games last year (seven on offense and eight on defense). Thirteen of those 15 started at least 10 games (six on offense and seven on defense). OU also welcomes back kicker Gabe Brkic, punter Reeves Mundschau, long snapper Kasey Kelleher and primary kick returner Tre Brown.
• The seven returning offensive starters from last season (at least eight starts) are redshirt junior offensive linemen Adrian Ealy (12 starts), Marquis Hayes (13 starts), Creed Humphrey (14 starts; 26 career) and Tyrese Robinson (14 starts), redshirt senior offensive lineman Erik Swenson (eight starts), redshirt junior tight end/H-back Jeremiah Hall (11 starts; 12 career) and redshirt junior wide receiver Charleston Rambo (14 starts).
• The eight returning defensive players (at least eight starts) are redshirt sophomore outside linebacker Nik Bonitto (8 starts), senior cornerback Tre Brown (14 starts; 22 career), junior safety Pat Fields (14 starts), junior defensive end Ronnie Perkins (13 starts; 20 career), junior defensive back Brendan Radley-Hiles (13 starts; 24 career), senior defensive lineman LaRon Stokes (10 starts), junior safety Delarrin Turner-Yell (13 starts) and junior linebacker DaShaun White (14 starts).
HUMPHREY, BRKIC NAMED PRESEASON ALL-AMERICANS
• Redshirt junior center Creed Humphrey and redshirt sophomore kicker Gabe Brkic each landed multiple preseason All-America honors.
• Humphrey, from Shawnee, Okla., earned preseason first-team All-America honors from the Associated Press, Sporting News and the Walter Camp Foundation. The 2019 consensus second-team All-American and first-team All-Big 12 pick was the Big 12 Co-Offensive Lineman of the Year and a finalist for the Rimington Trophy for the nation’s top center after registering 98 knockdowns and not allowing a sack in his 864 plays. He has made 25 starts over the last two years, including in all 14 games in 2019. Humphrey anchored the middle of OU’s O-line unit that won the Joe Moore Award in 2018 and was a semifinalist last season.
• Brkic, who hails from Chardon, Ohio, and was the only placekicker nationally who made all of his field goal and extra point tries in 2019 (69 for 69 combined), is a preseason first-team All-American by Sporting News and a second-team selection by the AP. A 2019 Lou Groza Award semifinalist and a second-team All-Big 12 pick, Brkic took over kicking duties prior to the Sooners’ fourth game of the season and went 17 for 17 on field goal attempts and 52 for 52 on PATs to earn freshman All-America honors from the FWAA and The Athletic, and first-team All-America honors from CBS Sports. His 103 kicking points were the most by an FBS player without a miss since at least 1996.
LEAGUE-HIGH SIX SOONERS RECEIVE PRESEASON BIG 12 HONORS
• A conference-high six Sooners received Big 12 preseason honors and five were named to the 2020 Preseason All-Big 12 Football Team that was selected by media who cover the league.
• Redshirt junior wide receiver Charleston Rambo, redshirt junior offensive linemen Creed Humphrey and Adrian Ealy, junior defensive end Ronnie Perkins and redshirt sophomore placekicker Gabe Brkic were among the 29 players to earn preseason all-league recognition by position. Redshirt freshman quarterback Spencer Rattler was selected as the Preseason Big 12 Newcomer of the Year.
• Oklahoma’s six overall player selections were the most in the league while OU and Texas tied for the most honorees on the preseason team with five. OU’s four offensive players were also more than any other school (Oklahoma State had three).
CAIN, MURRAY MAKE OU COACHING DEBUTS
• Saturday’s game will mark the first as Oklahoma assistant coaches for outside linebackers and defensive ends coach Jamar Cain and running backs coach DeMarco Murray. The pair was hired in January.
• Cain arrived in Norman from Arizona State where he served the 2019 season as defensive line coach. He held the same title at Fresno State during the 2017-18 seasons and spent the 2014-16 campaigns at FCS powerhouse North Dakota State coaching the defensive ends. NDSU went 40-5 during his tenure and captured the 2014 and 2015 FCS National Championships.
• Murray, who starred at running back for the Sooners from the 2007 through 2010 seasons and is OU’s career leader in all-purpose yards and touchdowns, is in his second season as a collegiate coach. He served as running backs coach at Arizona in 2019. Murray enjoyed a decorated seven-year NFL career with the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles and Tennessee Titans (he was the 2014 NFL Offensive Player of the Year with Dallas) before serving a one-year stint as a TV analyst in the broadcast booth with FOX Sports.
YEAR TWO OF “SPEED D”
• Hired in January 2019, coordinator and safeties coach Alex Grinch, who was a 2019 Broyles Award semifinalist, oversaw major improvement on the defensive side of the ball last season.
• Oklahoma ranked 17th nationally in opponent third-down conversion percentage (32.2; in 2018 [before Grinch’s arrival] it ranked 119th at 46.4), 17th in tackles for loss per game (7.4; in 2018 ranked 79th at 5.6), 32nd in rushing defense (134.1 ypg; in 2018 ranked 59th at 159.8), 34th in sacks per game (2.6; in 2018 ranked 49th at 2.1), 38th in total defense (356.4 ypg; in 2018 ranked 114th at 453.8), 58th in passing defense (222.4 ypg; in 2018 ranked 130th at 294.0) and 64th in scoring defense (27.3 ppg; in 2018 ranked 101st at 33.3).
• In Big 12 play, OU led the league in total defense (330.6 ypg) and passing defense (190.4 ypg), and ranked second in rushing defense (140.1 ypg), pass defense efficiency (125.7 rating) and third- and fourth-down conversion percentage (33.3 each).
• OU forced a punt on its opponent’s first possession in 12 of 14 games.
• The Sooners allowed more than 6.0 yards per play just twice in their 14 games last season. In the 41 games from 2016-18, OU allowed at least 6.0 yards per play 20 times.
YOUNG RUNNING BACKS ROOM
• Oklahoma, which has produced a Big 12-leading six individual 1,000-yard-rushing seasons by running backs over the past five years (the next most in the conference during that span is three) and has led the Big 12 in rushing offense in all three of Lincoln Riley‘s campaigns as head coach, will divide its carries this season among a largely inexperienced group.
• OU returns just 20.4% of its rushing yards and only 18.4% of its rushing touchdowns from last season.
• Senior Rhamondre Stevenson is OU’s leading returning rusher. He ran 64 times for 515 yards and six TDs in his debut season last year, and his 8.0 yards per rush led the nation among players with at least 50 carries.
• Junior T.J. Pledger carried 10 times for 65 yards and a score while redshirt freshman Marcus Major ran 10 times for 28 yards in his three contests.
• Freshman Seth McGowan is a consensus four-star recruit who was rated as the nation’s No. 13 running back by Rivals and No. 16 by 247Sports and ESPN. He rushed for more than 3,700 yards and 45 touchdowns at Mesquite (Texas) High School.
NO. 1 ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BALL
• The 2019 season marked the first in the 24-year history of the Big 12 the Sooners led the conference in both total offense (526.9 ypg; next most was 462.8) and total defense (330.6 ypg; next fewest was 357.6) in league play. The only other team to do it was co-national champion Nebraska in 1997.
“AIR RAID” A MISNOMER
• Fans and media have often referred to Oklahoma’s offense under Lincoln Riley as the “Air Raid.” The label is not exactly accurate, however, as the Sooners have rushed more than they’ve thrown in each of the five years since Riley arrived in Norman, and that’s counting plays in which the quarterback was sacked as pass plays (officially they are recorded as rushes). OU’s rushing play percentage was 52.6 in 2015, 57.7 in 2016, 53.1 in 2017, 54.7 in 2018 and 57.3% last season.
RILEY’S FAST START
• The Football Bowl Subdivision’s youngest head coach (33) at the time of his hiring, Lincoln Riley became just the fifth mentor in FBS history with no previous head-coaching experience at a four-year college to win at least 12 games in his debut season. At 24-4 and 36-6, he also holds the OU record for most wins by a head coach in his first two and first three seasons (Barry Switzer held the records of 21 and 32). No one in the last 125 years has won more games in their first three seasons as a college head coach (Penn’s George Woodruff from 1892 to ’94).
• Riley is one of just four FBS head coach since at least 1996 to win three conference titles in his first three years as a head coach. Marshall’s Bob Pruett [1997-99], Miami’s Larry Coker [2001-03] and Oregon’s Chip Kelly [2009-11] also accomplished the feat.
• Quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray became Oklahoma’s sixth and seventh Heisman Trophy winners in 2017 and ’18, respectively, moving the Sooners into a tie with Notre Dame and Ohio State for the most Heisman winners. Other OU winners were QB Sam Bradford in 2008, QB Jason White in 2003, RB Billy Sims in 1978, RB Steve Owens in 1969 and RB Billy Vessels in 1952.
• Quarterback Jalen Hurts was the 2019 Heisman Trophy runner-up and became Oklahoma’s 11th Heisman finalist, most of any school (finalists were first named in 1982). Miami (Fla.) ranks second with nine finalists, Alabama ranks third with eight and Florida ranks fourth with seven.
• Oklahoma boasts 10 Heisman finalists in the last 20 years (since 2000), which is four more than the program with the next most during that span (Alabama has six).
• OU is the first program to ever produce five Heisman finalists in a four-year period (Hurts, Murray in 2018 [won], Mayfield in 2017 [won] and Mayfield [finished third] and receiver Dede Westbrook [finished fourth] in 2016). With Mayfield’s and Murray’s wins, Oklahoma is the only program to produce different quarterback winners in consecutive seasons.
• OU is tied for the most Heisman runners-up, as well (six). OU’s second-place Heisman finishers were Kurt Burris (1954), Greg Pruitt (1972), Sims (1979), Josh Heupel (2000), Adrian Peterson (2004) and Hurts (2019).
• Oklahoma has produced four Heisman Trophy winners in the last 17 years. Only three other programs have produced four winners ever.
• An Oklahoma quarterback has finished in the top four of Heisman voting in each of Lincoln Riley‘s five years with the Sooners (Mayfield fourth in 2015, third in 2016 and first in 2017; Murray first in 2018; Hurst second in 2019).
BIG 12’S BELL COW
COLLEGE FOOTBALL’S BEST
• During the modern era of college football (since the end of World War II), the Sooners are the nation’s No. 1 team with more wins (664) than any other program (next most is 621 by Ohio State).
• Oklahoma is the highest-scoring program in college football history with 36,383 points (in 1,288 games).
• OU leads all FBS programs with 49 all-time conference championships. The rest of the top five includes Nebraska (46), Michigan (42), Ohio State (38) and USC (37). The Sooners’ 13 league titles since 2000 are the most among Power Five programs (Ohio State ranks second with 10).
• No program has more all-time 10-win seasons than Oklahoma, which has 40. In addition, OU’s 26 seasons with at least 11 wins are the most in college football history.
• Since former head coach Bob Stoops arrived in Norman in 1999, OU leads all Power Five conference programs in wins (226) and points scored (10,780).
• Only Alabama (122) and Ohio State (105) have been ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll more weeks than Oklahoma (101).
• The Sooners have made 419 all-time appearances in the AP poll’s top five, more than any other program (Alabama is next with 412 and Ohio State third with 388). That means OU has been in the top five in 36 percent of all AP polls (1,169 total polls), which started in 1936. OU has made 24 AP top-5 appearances since the start of 2017.
• Only Ohio State (640) has more all-time top-10 AP poll appearances than OU (605).
• Only Alabama (10) and Notre Dame (8) have earned more all-time AP national championships than Oklahoma (7).
• Every Oklahoma freshman class since 1999 has won at least two conference championships. Baylor’s 2011, 2012 and 2013 freshman classes are the only other ones in the Big 12 that have won two conference titles (the Bears won league crowns in 2013 and ’14).
• OU has been ranked in the AP’s top 10 in 54 of the last 56 polls. The only times it wasn’t during that stretch was following its 2017 loss to Iowa State (fell from third to 12th) and following its 2018 loss to Texas (seventh to 11th).
• The Sooners have won 52 straight games when leading after the third quarter. The last such loss came on Dec. 6, 2014, when they led Oklahoma State 28-14 entering the fourth quarter but lost 38-35 in overtime.
• Since Lincoln Riley joined the OU program as offensive coordinator before the 2015 season, the Sooners rank third nationally by averaging 321.9 passing yards per game and lead the country in passing efficiency rating (189.0; next best is 168.1) and yards per pass attempt. During the same five-year span, OU paces the nation with eight individual 1,00-yard rushing seasons (Samaje Perine in 2015, Perine and Joe Mixon in 2016, Rodney Anderson in 2017, Kennedy Brooks and Kyler Murray in 2018 and Brooks and Jalen Hurts in 2019).
• In 68 games since Lincoln Riley arrived in Norman in 2015, OU has punted more than its opponent just eight times. On five of those seven occasions it was just one more punt.
• The Sooners have won more Big 12 titles the last five seasons (five) than they have lost games against Big 12 opponents (44-4 record; includes three Big 12 Championship games).
• OU is the only program that has produced at least four NFL Draft picks each of the last 13 years.
• Oklahoma is 41-4 (.911) in regular season Big 12 play since the start of the 2015 season, which coincides with Riley’s arrival at OU. Oklahoma State ranks second during that period (28-17; .622), TCU and West Virginia third (25-20; .556) and Texas fifth (24-21; .533).