Will Texas A&M finish ahead of LSU in the SEC West standings this year?
With Alabama expected to be the No. 1 team in most preseason polls in 2013, combined with potential top-10 teams in LSU and Texas A&M, the SEC West should be one of the deepest divisions in college football. That also doesn’t include an improving Ole Miss squad, and Arkansas and Auburn – two teams that should also get better under the direction of new head coaches.
Athlon Sports ranks the best dynasties in college football since the AP Poll debuted.
Dynasty is a word that gets tossed around all too liberally by fans and media members alike. However, there are periods of time in sports where the term is not only applicable but completely accurate. The NFL had the Packers of the '60s, the Steelers of the '70s, the 49ers of the '80s, the Cowboys of the '90s and the Patriots of the '00s. The NBA has the Celtics, Lakers, Bulls and soon-to-be Heat dynasties.
Is Clint Chelf the No. 1 quarterback in the Big 12?
The Big 12 should have one of the most wide-open battles at quarterback for first-team all-conference honors in 2013.
TCU’s Casey Pachall is back after a suspension, but he isn’t guaranteed the starting job. Oklahoma’s Blake Bell has a lot of talent and should thrive in his first year as the No. 1 quarterback. However, he has yet to prove he can consistently beat defenses with his arm.
Athlon ranks the 10 greatest Oklahoma State players since 1967.
Robinson was the school’s all-time leader in total offense — before his senior season. So his 12,033 yards are leaps and bounds ahead of current head coach Mike Gundy’s 7,749 yards. His 10,175 passing yards are nearly a full season ahead of Gundy’s 7,997, the former record. His 66 passing touchdowns are a school record. He took over as the starter as a sophomore, and all he did was set a school record for total offense with 3,671 yards (later broken). He led his team to three straight bowl appearances, and he finished with 1,858 yards rushing and 22 rushing TDs to go with his prolific passing numbers. He was 24-13 as the starter in Stillwater.
After being the first pick by the New York Yankees in the 2002 MLB Draft, Weeden returned to college to lead Oklahoma State to two of the program’s most storied seasons in history (11-2, 12-1). After a record-setting junior season in 2010, Weeden returned to Stillwater and shattered all of his own single-season school records. He owns the single-season school record for passing yards (4,727), passing touchdowns (37), total offense (4,625), completions (408), attempts (564) and completion percent (72.3%). Weeden also broke his own single-game passing record with Oklahoma State’s only 500-yard effort (502 yards against Kansas State). He finished his career with a 23-3 record as the starter and brought the first Big 12 championship to Pokes fans — it was the school’s first conference title since the 1976 Big Eight crown.
Best known for his 520 tackles and 80.0 sacks for the Steel Curtain Super Bowl defense of the mid-'90s, Gildon is also the career sack master of Stillwater, Okla. His 35.5 career QB sacks are a school record — as were his 16.0 sacks in 1991. He finished his career with 266 career total tackles, landing him in the top 20 of all-time as well. Gildon was a third-round selection by the Steelers in the 1994 NFL Draft. The three-time Pro Bowler played 11 seasons in the league.
Miller left Stillwater as the program's all-time leading rusher with 4,581 yards on 848 carries. The two-time All-American has the third-best season in Pokes history with a 1,680-yard performance in 1977. Miller posted back-to-back 1,500-yard seasons, rushing for 1,541 yards and 21 TDs in 1976 — the 21 scores were, at the time, a school record. His 43 rushing scores are good for second all-time in school history. In 1977, Miller finished second only to the great Earl Campbell in the Heisman Trophy voting. Miller was the fifth overall pick in the first round of the 1980 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills.
Blackmon burst onto the scene as a sophomore when he set an Oklahoma State record with 1,782 yards receiving (an NCAA record for a sophomore), 20 touchdowns and 111 receptions. He also set an NCAA record with 12 straight games of at least 100 yards and a touchdown. He became the Pokes first-ever Biletnikoff Award winner that year — all while missing a game. He returned to Stillwater in 2011 and broke his own school record for receptions (121) and posted 1,522 yards and 18 more touchdowns as a senior. He was named to his second straight consensus first-team All-American and joined Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree as the only two-time Biltenikoff Award winners. He ended his career with as the MVP of the Fiesta Bowl — the only BCS bowl win in school history. As part of a team that won 23 games in two years and the program’s first conference championship since 1976, Blackmon is arguably the most productive receiver in program history.
It is hard to look at an Oklahoma State record book without seeing the name Woods pop up a few hundred times. His 107-catch, 1,695-yard, 17-TD season in 2002 set all three major single-season receiving records (until Justin Blackmon in 2010) for the program. His career numbers of 293 receptions, 4,414 yards and 42 receiving TDs not only set Oklahoma State records but also Big 12 conference benchmarks. His seven receiving TDs against SMU in 2003 are still an NCAA record. Prior to Woods' career in Stillwater, only one Cowboy had ever topped the 200-yard mark receiving even once (Curtis Mayfield, 208). Woods broke that record three separate times with 223-, 226- and 230-yard performances. The talented receiver topped the century mark 20 times in his illustrious Pokes career. Woods was the 31st overall pick in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers.
It took less than a month for the big freshman hog molly to get into the starting lineup. Okung started the final eight games of his first season and was named to the All-Big 12 Freshman team. Upon being moved to the most important position – Zac Robinson’s left tackle – Okung started all 13 games as a sophomore. The line allowed a league-best five sacks in 2007. The big fella finished his junior season with a 34-straight start streak intact after 71 knockdown blocks and all-conference honors. Okung dominated some of the NCAA’s best, holding Von Miller, Sergio Kindle and Greg Middleton without a sack. He was an Outland Trophy finalists (losing to only Ndamukong Suh) and was a consensus All-American. He was also given Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year honors before being selected with the sixth overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft by the Seahawks. Okung started 47 straight games as an Oklahoma State Cowboy.
O’Neal simply refused to lose, and his career at Oklahoma State was highlighted by his work ethic and dedication. The three-time all-conference performer set the OSU sack record in 1984 with 14.0 QB sacks. The conference Defensive Player of the Year came one tackle for a loss shy of setting that record as well (17.0 TFL in 1984). In fact, three of the top 11 TFL seasons in school history were posted by O’Neal — 15.0 in 1985 and 15.0 in 1983. He ranks fifth all-time in tackles with 353 total stops, topping the 100-tackle mark in each of his three starting campaigns. He is second all-time to Jason Gildon with 32.0 career sacks — a number that was a school record when he left for the NFL in 1986. The Chargers drafted the Lombardi Award runner-up in the first round, and he was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year after 82 tackles and 12.5 sacks. O’Neal was a six-time Pro Bowler and earned Comeback Player of the Year honors after a devastating knee injury.
A part of the most talented backfield in NCAA history, Thomas is the Cowboys’ all-time leading rusher with 4,595 yards on 898 carries. He topped the 100-yard mark 21 times and tied a school record with 43 career rushing touchdowns (which was broken one year later). The two-time All-American finished seventh in the Heisman voting in 1987 after 1,613 yards and 18 TDs, leading the Pokes to a Sun Bowl win over West Virginia. His No. 34 is one of three Okie State numbers to be retired. Thomas was drafted in the second round of the 1988 NFL Draft by the Bills — a team he helped lead to an unmatched four straight Super Bowls. He was inducted into the NCAA Hall of Fame in 2008.
Arguably the greatest running back to ever carry a football. Sanders' 1988 Heisman Trophy campaign very simply might be the greatest season in the history of college football by any player at any position. Sanders waited patiently behind Thurman Thomas before exploding as a junior — leading the nation in kick return yards in 1987. In his first, and only, year as the starter he rushed for an NCAA-record 2,628 yards and 37 rushing TDs. His 7.6 yards per carry and 238.9 yards per game easily led the nation. His 39 total TDs, 234 points, 3,248 all-purpose yards and five consecutive 200-yard efforts are all also NCAA records. What is more astounding is the fact that his 222 yards and five TDs in three quarters of Holiday Bowl action did not even count towards those totals. Sanders earned the Doak Walker Award in ’88 as well. Sanders is fourth all-time in school history in rushing, only because he left early for the NFL following his Heisman season. His 48 career rushing TDs are a school record. All Sanders did after being selected with the third overall pick in the 1989 NFL Draft by Detroit is rush for 15,269 yards and go to the Pro Bowl in all ten NFL seasons. Had Sanders played a few more years in the NFL, he likely would have become the NFL’s all-time leading rusher.
Hours after learning that he had won the Heisman Trophy, Barry Sanders rushed for 332 yards and four TDs in a 45-42 win over Texas Tech in the Coca-Cola Bowl in Tokyo. The performance lifted Sanders’ season total to 2,628 yards, an NCAA record.
Third-ranked Missouri held a 17-14 lead late in the third quarter, but Oklahoma State rallied and dumped the Tigers, 28-23, to beat its highest-ranked rival on the road. Zac Robinson threw for 215 yards and two touchdowns, and Kendall Hunter ran for 154 and a score for a win that vaulted OSU into the top 10.
Rashaun Woods caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Josh Fields in the fourth quarter to lead the 3-7 Cowboys to a 16-13 win over fourth-ranked Oklahoma in Norman. Oklahoma State’s defense limited the Sooners to just 220 total yards, and kicker Luke Phillips drilled a pair of 52-yard field goals.
“Reganomics” was the rule last Saturday at Talladega and paid huge dividends for the winner Regan Smith in the Nationwide Series event. However, the first installment of Reganonmics was at the 2011 Southern 500. After getting jobbed out of a win at Talladega in 2008, Smith would have to wait three years to get another crack at one — and he delivered in the clutch in Darlington, holding off Carl Edwards on new tires for the final two laps. The win did get a bit overshadowed with the antics between Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch in the final laps and on pit road following the race. To Busch’s credit, he actually did try to avoid confrontation twice before Harvick’s car went on a ghost ride into the wall. Busch would later claim his transmission wouldn’t grab reverse, and he didn’t want to get clobbered by Harvick.
by Vito Pugliese
9. 1965 Southern 500: Cale has left the building
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In recent years, NASCAR has made great strides in safety, notably with the installation of “soft wall” SAFER Barriers that line most walls around the circuit’s 23 tracks. Cale Yarborough could have used something like that at Darlinton at the 1965 Southern 500, as his Banjo Matthews owned No. 27 Ford ollies the guardrail and parks it with the fans outside of Turn 1. Check out his comments about it at 3:05 with Richard Petty, Benny Parsons and Darrell Waltrip — as well as those retro New Balances that have just been re-released.
by Vito Pugliese
8. 1997 Southern 500: Earnhardt punches out
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A scary moment in the opening laps of the 1997 Southern 500 occurred when Dale Earnhardt basically blacked out coming to take the green flag and then had trouble finding his way onto pit road. He would later say that he had an episode of double-vision before the incident, but then didn’t remember anything until he got out of the car. Doctors attributed it to a migraine-like episode or broken blood vessel in his brain. A couple of years later, Earnhardt would have surgery to remove a piece of metal from his skull that occurred during a shop incident in the 70’s. Fitting since he was nicknamed “Ironhead.”
by Vito Pugliese
7. 1970 Rebel 500: That’s why they now have window nets
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After seeing the rash of accidents at Talladega — including Kurt Busch barrel rolling and landing atop Ryan Newman’s windshield — it is a wonder nobody was injured. Such was not the case during the height of speedway racing in late 1960s and early ’70s. Richard Petty endures this violent head-on impact into the concrete retaining wall (nothing “soft” about these walls), blasting it apart, and then barrel rolling his Roadrunner, with his body hanging halfway out of the window. Petty would miss the next five races with a broken shoulder, and despite 18 wins that season, finished fourth in the final point standings.
by Vito Pugliese
6. 1993 Southern 500: Martin wins fourth straight
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Mark Martin’s No. 6 Valvoline Thunderbird was on a roll in 1993, and the train kept booking through Darlington. A race that was delayed once for rain, but only featured three caution flags was the perfect complement to the Roush team’s raked Ford that ran roughshod all summer long, tying the modern era record for consecutive wins at four. Ford honored the win by placing a full page ad in the USA Today that read, “It Was Labor Day Weekend, But We Celebrated The Fourth.” Pick up the action around the 3:04 mark and check out the banzai run by Dale Earnahardt. Think things were dark at ‘Dega last weekend? Check out the sun setting behind Turn 2 when Martin pulls into Victory Lane. Also, awesome hat.
by Vito Pugliese
5. 1997 Southern 500: Brother, can you spare a million bucks?
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Jeff Gordon was eligible for the Winston Million in 1997 after winning the Daytona 500 and Coca-Cola 600. We pick up the action at 2:25, with five laps to go, as Jeff Burton gets past Dale Jarrett to get a shot at Gordon’s lead. Don’t let Tony Stewart see this last lap — he will lose it after seeing Gordon’s defensive maneuver coming to take the white flag. After the race, Burton said he would have nailed Gordon had he been able to get back to him. It was only the second time the Winston Million had been won at the time.
by Vito Pugliese
4. 2004 Southern 500: The final “true” Southern 500
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From 1950 to 2004, the Southern 500 was run on Labor Day Weekend. That changed in 2005, when the push for major market exposure meant that Labor Day weekends would move to — gulp! — Southern California. The final “true” Southern 500 was the set up to the inaugural Nextel Cup under the new Chase format. We pick up the action at the 21:00 mark, as the final “true” Southern 500 finds a great race with championship implications unfolding. Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch and Jamie McMurray exchange the lead over the final 100 laps, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has battery problems and some new guy named Carl Edwards is making video game passes with 25 to go. Remind me again why they aren’t racing here twice a year?
by Vito Pugliese
3. 1985 Southern 500: Million Dollar Bill
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In 1985, Bill Elliott was deemed “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville” after his Ernie Elliott-powered Coors Ford became the scourge of the speedways in NASCAR. He won the Daytona 500 and Talladega 500, making him eligible for the $1 million bonus put up by Winston for any driver who could win three of NASCAR’s four most prestigious races: Daytona 500, Talladega 500, Coca-Cola 600 and Southern 500. Equally awesome call by Larry Nuber here, as Elliott comes to the checkers to become the first winner of the Winston Million. The fans seem pretty excited too, even though he had to beat native South Carolina son Cale Yarborough to do so. Mind you, this was a million dollars in 1985 money — back before the days of multi-million dollar driver contracts, huge purses and lucrative endorsement deals. I mean because now, a million dollars is chump change …
by Vito Pugliese
2. 1979 Rebel 500: A changing of the guard
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Picking up the action at the 6:20 mark, three-time Formula 1 champion Jackie Stewart calls the final five laps with ABC’s “Wide World of Sports’” Jim McKay. This race is cited as the changing of the guard between the previous generation to the next, led by drivers such as Darrell Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt and Bill Elliott. Richard Petty and Waltrip battle back and forth, exchanging the lead several times. Coincidentally, three of the four cars involved in dictating the final lap of the ’79 Daytona 500 are charging for the win, but this time the outcome is reversed. Of note, nobody makes contact with each other or executes a “bump ‘n’ run” to win. There was a different code back then. And some big-assed boats, ‘70s style.
by Vito Pugliese
1. 2003 Carolina Dodge Dealers 400: Greatest finish in NASCAR’s Modern Era
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The best recipe for cookie cutter tracks and nap-inducing races? Head to the oldest of the old-school racetracks: Darlington. After all, what other track on the circuit can lay claim to the myth that a minnow pond dictated its layout? Larry Mac goes bat guano during the final laps calling this one, with plenty of “hah-side” and “drag race” quips, as Darrell Waltrip cheers on Ricky Craven to victory – which I guess is unbiased and all. Interesting observation, however, by DW, that the pointy Pontiac nose helped get the win for Craven. Ten years later, this is still the closest finish in NASCAR history at .002 seconds. And contrary to what you may think, Kurt Busch wasn’t upset afterwards.
Geoffrey Miller's Five Things to Watch at Darlington
Darlington Raceway (ASP, Inc.)
1. Darlington celebrates a pair of 10-year milestones, good and bad
Darlington Raceway is the first place NASCAR ever raced on pavement, all the way back on Sept. 4, 1950. That event, the first Labor Day Weekend Southern 500, saw Johnny Mantz win his only NASCAR race as he beat Fireball Roberts and 73 other competitors by at least nine laps.
Saturday night's race will also be known as the Southern 500, but it'll mark the 10th season of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing at Darlington without the race being held on the traditional end of summer weekend. NASCAR's shift of that race initially to a November date in 2004 and then completely off the schedule in favor of a second Auto Club Speedway race in 2005 remains one of its most controversial decisions of the past decade.
The race name returned to Darlington for the now-annual Mother's Day weekend race, but much of a the tradition hasn't. The Southern 500 on Labor Day weekend carried a certain swagger thanks to its holiday weekend placement and typically unforgiving daytime temperatures. It was a race every driver wanted to win thanks mostly to the cachet it awarded.
Saturday night's race also marks the 10th season since Darlington produced arguably the most riveting finish in the last decade, if not further. During the 400-mile 2003 spring race, Kurt Busch and Ricky Craven bounced off one another for much of the final three laps. Their tires worn and their cars growing ever more damaged, the pair came together for a final time exiting Turn 4 on the final lap.
Craven nipped Busch at the line by .002 seconds — a mark tied for the closest NASCAR Sprint Cup Series finish in history.
2. Denny Hamlin’s big return
Denny Hamlin's return to the driver's seat of his No. 11 a week ago at Talladega Superspeedway was short-lived, a bit contrived and ultimately unsuccessful in helping him claw back toward Chase for the Sprint Cup competition. Friday at Darlington, however, should mark the return of a full-time Hamlin to the series following his back injury at Auto Club Speedway on March 24.
He couldn't return to a better track, personally. Hamlin has a sterling average finish of 5.9 on the egg-shaped oval, and has led more than 50 laps in three of his seven Darlington starts. To follow up his career-worst 13th-place Darlington finish in 2009, Hamlin responded with his only win there in 2010.
Last year, Hamlin led 56 laps before falling to Jimmie Johnson by .781 seconds.
Saturday night's start marks the beginning of a critical stretch for Hamlin if he wants to bounce back from missing four starts so far in 2013 and qualify for the season's title fight. He's now 31st in points, 76 points behind 20th place and a possible wild card birth.
Should Hamlin nab a couple of wins and get inside the top 20 by Richmond in September, he'd be in excellent position to continue his seven-year streak of Chase qualifications.
"There is a formula," Hamlin said. "When this happened and we started figuring things out of missing races, if we just did what we did last year we would make it. But nothing is a given."
Defending race winner Jimmie Johnson. (ASP, Inc.)
3. Hendrick veterans tough to stop at the Track Too Tough to Tame
With Hamlin likely not physically 100 percent at Darlington, the door has opened a crack further for Hendrick Motorsports' longest tenured drivers in Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson to continue their own excellence at the South Carolina track.
Combined, the two have 10 wins, 25 top 5s and 31 top 10s in 48 total starts at the track. Gordon ran into mechanical troubles last season as Johnson took the win, but went from 2004 to 2010 never once finishing worse than fifth. Johnson, meanwhile, led the most laps at Darlington last season (134) en route to his third career win at the track. Johnson's average finish is second best among active series drivers at 9.1, while Gordon's is 11.8 in 32 starts at the tricky speedway.
Gordon also celebrates a milestone Saturday night as he makes his 700th career Sprint Cup start. Gordon's feat also stands as the longest to start a Cup Series career, and will put him just 88 races away from Ricky Rudd's all-time record.
4. Air Titan ready for Round 2?
Rain affected all three races at Talladega Superspeedway a week ago. Sprint Cup and Nationwide both raced into near darkness after rain delayed their proceedings. ARCA had its race shortened Friday as showers rolled in.
It marked the first true test of NASCAR's Air Titan track drying system that early claims touted as being exponentially faster than the long-used jet dryer system. The combination of the two at Talladega didn't prove to be markedly faster — I know, I know, it's no shock that a NASCAR proclamation fell a bit short — but the system may have saved just enough time to get the full races in. All told, 16 of the Air Titan compressed air systems were used at Talladega alongside 10 jet dryers.
Based on forecasts for NASCAR's weekend in Darlington, they might be called in to action again as soon as Friday. Forecasters pinned a 20 percent chance of rain in the vicinity for Friday night's Nationwide Series race, and a 50 percent chance of thunderstorms all day and night Saturday.
Darlington’s 1.366-mile distance, of course, is considerably less than Talladega’s 2.66 miles and will undoubtedly take less time to dry. But rainouts aren't unprecedented at the South Carolina track. In 2007, the Saturday night race was pushed to Sunday afternoon — not long after FOX's Chris Myers insisted to viewers that the race would go off on the night originally planned.
5. Last chance for double All-Star Race qualification
David Ragan's surprising win during last weekend's seven-hour Talladega Superspeedway race gave him all the typical accolades befit that of a Sprint Cup race winner. It includes all of the essentials: the trophy, the points and the big check.
But it also paid off in the form two guaranteed entries to the main event of NASCAR's All-Star Race over the next two years. The race's rules permit entry for race winners in both the current and most recently completed NASCAR Sprint Cup Series seasons. Series and all-star event champions from the past decade also earn automatic entry to the race.
That leaves roughly 25 Sprint Cup regulars still on the outside looking in for next weekend's "A-main" that could pay as much as $2 million. Drivers like Jeff Burton, Jamie McMurray, Juan Pablo Montoya, Danica Patrick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Martin Truex Jr. will have to find the checkered flag either Saturday night at Darlington or next weekend in the Sprint Showdown qualifier event.
A win at Darlington is much preferred because it counts in the same two-for-one fashion as Ragan's Talladega win. Before Ragan, Marcos Ambrose was the latest unqualified driver to earn a 2013 all-star event bid with his win last August on the road course at Watkins Glen.
Brown came to Norman as a defensive tackle but after switching to the O-Line as a sophomore, he quickly emerged as — arguably — the best blocker in Sooner history. The two-time All-American paved the way for a record-breaking offense in 2004, winning the Outland Trophy as the nation's best lineman. He did not allow a sack or a QB hurry during that season and led the team with 130 knockdown blocks. He won multiple Big 12 Championships and helped push the Sooners to the BCS National Championship game. Brown was the 13th overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints.
There is little doubt that Bradford is the best quarterback to ever suit up for the Sooners. He owns all three yardage records: single game (468), single-season (4,720) and career (8,403). He owns the single-season (50) and career passing touchdown records (88). He posted the two most effecient seasons in OU passing history in both completion percentage (69.5 percent in 2007, 67.9 percent in 2008) and quarterback rating (180.84 in 2008, 176.53 in 2007). He became only the second underclassman (albeit a redshirt) to even win the Heisman Trophy and led his team to the national championship game against Florida. He also set a NCAA freshman record for touchdown passes with 36. Oh yeah, and he did all this in only two seasons — both of which ended in a Big 12 Championship. Bradford threw only 69 passes his junior season after sustaining an injury that ended his college career. He declared for the NFL Draft and was taken with the No. 1 overall pick by the St. Louis Rams in 2010.
One of the most dominant linemen in OU history helped lead the Sooners back to the promised land when he guided the Sooners win the 1985 National Championship. In 1984, Casillas was a first-team All-American. In 1985, he became the only the second Sooner to win the Lombardi Award given to the nation's best lineman. He also earned his second All-America honor as well as the UPI National Lineman of the Year Award and Big 8 Defensive Player of the Year. Casillas finsihed his career with 213 tackles and 18 sacks and became only the second Hispanic member of the NCAA Football Hall of Fame when he was inducted in 2004.
Owens rumbled his way into the Sooner history books as one of the most prolific rushers in school history. He became the second Sooner to win the Heisman Trophy award in 1969 when he rushed for 1,523 yards and 23 touchdowns (still a school record). The previous season, Owens had set the single-season OU rushing mark with 1,649 yards (since broken). His 958 carries are still a school record, and he owns the top seven spots on the single-game carries list, including a record 55 against Oklahoma State in 1969. Owens also set the career rushing touchdown record with 57. Those 57 TDs were a total touchdowns record until 2010 when DeMarco Murray broke it. He topped the 100-yard mark 23 times in his career, won two conference championships and is a member of the NCAA Football Hall of Fame. He was the 19th overall pick in the first round of the 1970 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions.
One the hardest hitting safeties to ever play the game at any school, Williams helped lead OU back to prominence as a key member of the 2000 National Championship team. As only a sophomore, he started every game and set a Sooner record for tackles for a loss by a defensive back (12). As a junior, "Superman" was immortalized by his flying game-changing tackle of Chris Simms in the Red River Shootout. Williams won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back and the Nagurski Trophy as the country's top overall defensive player. His 22 pass deflections in 2001 are a Sooner record and his 44 career deflections rank second all-time. Williams was the eighth overall pick 2002 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys.
Arguably the most complete tight end in NCAA history, Jackson played primarily in a wishbone offense yet still averaged over 23 yards per catch for his career and was named an All-American in each of his final two seasons. He helped lead the Sooners to the 1985 National Championship. Oklahoma was 42-5-1 during Jackson's time in Norman, and he finished with 62 catches for 1,407 yards. Jackson was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001 and was later named the OU Offensive Player of the Century. He was the 13th overall pick in the 1988 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles.
The "Boz" has to be the best linebacker to ever suit up for Oklahoma — despite all of the off-the-field drama. Bosworth, the only two-time winner of the Butkus Award, was at his best in big games. His 413 career tackles rank seventh all-time in school history in only three years of action. The two-time All-American and three-time all-league selection was linked to anabolic steriods but was also an Academic All-American. Bosworth was selected in the first round of the 1987 Supplemental Draft by the Seattle Seahawks.
With 4,118 yards, Sims is the Sooners' all-time leading rusher. He also owns the most coveted trophy in all of sports — the Heisman Trophy (1978). Sims set a conference rushing mark with 1,896 yards and led the nation by averaging over 7.0 yards per carry. That year, Sims almost set the single-season OU rushing touchdowns record, but missed by one score with 22 trips to paydirt. However, he tied fellow OU Heisman winner Steve Owens for that very record the next year when he capped his stellar career with a 23-TD season —giving him 45 rushing scores in two seasons. Sims topped the 100-yard mark 20 times and scored 53 total touchdowns in illustrious career. He played very little — 15 carries for 95 yards and two touchdowns — during his freshman season due to injuries, but Sims was still a part of the 1975 National Championship team. He was taken with the No. 1 overall pick of the 1980 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions.
It didn't take long for Peterson to establish himself as a star. He set an NCAA freshman rushing record with 1,925 yards and led the nation with 339 carries in 2004. Peterson helped lead the Sooners to the National title game and finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting. Despite missing four games as a sophomore, A.D. still managed to top the 1,200-yard mark. As a junior, Peterson injured his collarbone in a flukey dive into the end zone after a 53-yard touchdown run. Even though he missed big chunks of time over his final two seasons, Peterson still managed to rush for the third highest total in school history with 4,045 yards. He "fell" to the Minnesota Vikings at the seventh overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft.
They don't come much better than Selmon. Playing alongside two of his brothers, Loucious and Dewey, for his first two seasons, Selmon blossomed into a star on the defensive line. By 1974, he was the key cog in one of the most dominant Sooner defenses in history and helped OU to two straight National Championships, in '74 and '75. He claimed the Outland Trophy and the Lombardi Award as the nation's top lineman. He finished his career with over 330 tackles and what would have been a school record 40 sacks (the stat technically did not exist until 1982 and was loosely kept since 1963). The all-time great was drafted by the Tampa Bay Bucs with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1976 NFL Draft.