Oklahoma Sooners’ top 12 moments in football from the Big 12 era

·11 min read

One of the best things about sports, and college football, in particular, are the memories it creates for the fan that last a lifetime. In the Oklahoma Sooner’s dominance of the Big 12 since its inception, they’ve created quite a few memories.

With migration to the Southeastern Conference on the horizon, the Sooners’ reign at the top of the Big 12 will be concluding. Collecting 14 Big 12 Championships, the Oklahoma Sooners have created quite a few memorable moments along the way.

And as their future is headed to the SEC, let’s take a look back at the top 12 moments from the Oklahoma Sooners time in the Big 12 Conference.

2000 National Championship

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During the 1950s, the Oklahoma Sooners won three national championships in six seasons under the great Bud Wilkinson. Then they went on a 28-year national championship drought until Barry Switzer won his first of three national championships with the Sooners in 1974. Switzer and the Sooners proceeded to win another title in 1975 and then again in 1985. After a prolonged drought yet again, the Sooners captured their seventh national championship in Bob Stoops' second season at the helm. It was an important start to what turned out to be another legendary coaching career at the University of Oklahoma. Though the Sooners wouldn't win another national title during Stoops' reign, this would springboard the Sooners to a dominant run in the Big 12.

Roy Williams goes Superman

(AP Photo/Tim Sharp)

You don't have to be a fan of the Sooners or even of the Big 12 to recall the highlight of Roy Williams jumping over the pile to hit Chris Sims and force a throw that Teddy Lehman intercepted. When I think of some of the best individual plays in Sooners history, this one comes to mind immediately. In a tightly contested contest that saw the defenses putting on a clinic, the Oklahoma Sooners clung to a 7-3 lead late in the fourth quarter. The Texas Longhorns were backed up to their own three-yard line with 2:06 left in the Red River Shootout. With Chris Sims and the Longhorns looking to drive for a go-ahead score, Roy Williams timed the snap perfectly and lept over the Texas offensive line, hitting Sims just as he got to the top of his drop and attempted to throw a pass. The quarterback hit caused the ball flutter, and Teddy Lehman was there to pick it off and return it for a touchdown to seal the game. Though Texas had managed to outgain the Sooners 225 to 206 on the day, the biggest difference was in the turnover battle. The Sooners had forced four turnovers, including the interception forced by Roy "Superman" Williams.

Bob Stoops' first Big 12 Championship

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You can't get to a national championship without first winning a conference title. Before Bob Stoops won his first Big 12 championship in 2000, the Sooners had been on a 13-year conference championship drought that started in 1987 with Barry Switzer's last title. That title in 2000 spurred a run of success that will never be matched in the Big 12. Stoops won 10 conference titles in 16 seasons as head coach of the University of Oklahoma.

Hiring Lincoln Riley as the Offensive Coordinator

(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

The Oklahoma Sooners offense was really good under Josh Heupel. Heupel was at the helm for Landry Jones' tenure as the starting quarterback for the Sooners. However, during the Blake Bell and Trevor Knight era, things fell off the cliff, and the Sooners' offense struggled to maintain their offensive proclivity. Unfortunately, that led to the end of Heupel's career with the Sooners. And while it's led to a strained relationship between the former National Championship winning quarterback and the University of Oklahoma, it also led to the hiring of former Mike Leach disciple Lincoln Riley to be the offensive coordinator. Riley brought the "Air Raid" back to Norman along with his incredible ability to scheme for his skill players and use his offensive line on the move. From Heisman Trophies to number one overall picks, Riley's made Oklahoma a destination for any skill position player looking to get to the NFL. Riley's turned the Oklahoma Sooners into an offensive juggernaut that makes them one of the most fun teams to watch on Saturdays. And off the field, Riley's use of social media and Oklahoma's media department has helped the Sooners recruiting go to the next level. All he's missing at this stage in his career is a national championship, but he has the Sooners positioned well to make a run in 2021.

Baker Mayfield vs Patrick Mahomes in 2016

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When you think of offensive football in the Big 12, Texas Tech might be one of the first schools you think of. First, under Mike Leach, and then Kliff Kingsbury, the Red Raiders prioritized the passing game under the "Air Raid" system. In 2016, the "Air Raid" was on full display as then offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley and Kingsbury, two disciples of Leach, put their star quarterbacks on display in an epic matchup that set records and mesmerized a nation. On that day, Baker Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes went toe-to-toe like it was a heavyweight prizefight. Mayfield and Mahomes went back and forth, trading scores and making incredible plays. They combined for 1,279 passing yards and 14 total touchdowns. Their effort was so incredible that people often forget that Joe Mixon had 377 total yards and five touchdowns on 35 touches. Special teams nearly had the day off as the two schools combined for just four punts and two field goals.

Baker Mayfield Plants the Flag in the Shoe

(Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

After starting the 2016 season 1-2 with a 21 point loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes in Norman, the Oklahoma Sooners and Baker Mayfield were out for revenge in 2017. Heading to Columbus to face the number two team in the country, the Sooners were looking for a signature win to kick off what they hoped would be a national championship campaign. They got it as they knocked off the Buckeyes 31-16 in 2017. However, things didn't start well as the Sooners fell behind 3-0, 10-3, and 13-10. With the Sooners trailing 13-10 with 3:47 remaining in the third quarter, Baker Mayfield led Oklahoma on a 4-play 92-yard drive to take a 17-13 lead. After a five-yard run that saw a 10-yard penalty added on for holding, Mayfield went 3 for 3 for 78 yards to three different receivers to march Mayfield down the field to take the lead. The Sooners would score 21 unanswered points and run away with the game in "The Shoe." In true Baker Mayfield fashion, while celebrating with the fans who traveled to Columbus, the Sooners quarterback grabbed an OU flag, sprinted to midfield, and planted it in the middle of the Ohio State logo.

Oklahoma's improbable comeback win vs Baylor in 2019

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With 11 minutes left in the second quarter, Denzel Mims caught a nine-yard touchdown from Baylor's Charlie Brewer to put the Bears up 28-3 and seemed to be on their way to an undefeated season. Going into half-time, the Sooners were down 31-10. And despite the big deficit, there was a ton of time left, and all the Sooners needed was to start scoring and start making some stops. Both things happened as the Oklahoma Sooners held the Bears scoreless in the second half, and the offense scored 24 unanswered points led by Jalen Hurts three touchdown passes and a game-winning field goal from Gabe Brkic. The game was sealed by Nik Bonitto, who dropped into coverage to pick off Baylor's Brewer. Oklahoma was able to complete the comeback while CeeDee Lamb was out with an injury. It was a dramatic win from a quarterback who was always emotionally level. Hurts became notorious for his unwillingness to provide more than rote, unemotional answers in postgame interviews. However, after this one, the Heisman finalist was smiling ear to ear.

Sam Bradford's Hesiman Moment

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Sam Bradford was having a fantastic season for the Oklahoma Sooners heading into their matchup with the second-ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders in 2008. Heading into the matchup of top five teams, Bradford had completed 68% of his passes for 3,406 yards and 38 touchdowns. He'd be the front-runner for the award if it weren't for Graham Harrell's incredible season that put the Red Raiders at number two in the nation. Had it been a closer contest, you might have seen Bradford put together Baker Mayfield's stat line from 2016's game vs. Texas Tech. On this day in question, however, Bradford was the far better player. Bradford went 14 of 19 for 304 yards and four touchdowns. He was deadly, leading the Sooners to a 65-21 rout of the Red Raiders.

Paul Thompson leads OU to Big 12 Championship

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There might not be a more beloved quarterback in the Bob Stoops' era than Paul Thompson. Thompson was the epitome of what a teammate should be. Selfless and willing to do whatever it took to help the team win a game. He won the starting job initially in 2005 before ceding it to Rhett Bomar. However, in 2006 after Thompson made the full-time switch to wide receiver, Bomar was dismissed from the team for violating NCAA rules. Thompson would return to take snaps from behind center and help lead the Sooners to arguably their most improbable Big 12 championship. During the 2006 season, Thompson completed 60% of his passes for 2,667 yards, 22 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions on the way to leading the Sooners to an 11-3 record and a spot in the Fiesta Bowl. In the Big 12 Championship game against rival Nebraska, PT hit Malcolm Kelly for two touchdowns, including a 66-yarder, which would prove to be the game-winning score. It also led to one of the most memorable off-the-field moments in Sooners' history. https://youtu.be/G9RiitZEHxA

Dede Westbrook goes off vs Texas

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In his first outing against the Texas Longhorns in 2015, Dede Westbrook was held to just four catches for 25 yards in a loss at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. In 2016, Westbrook came back with a vengeance, breaking a school record with 10 receptions for 232 yards and three touchdowns. Baker Mayfield and the Sooners needed every bit of Westbrook's work as they held on to win the game 45-40 in a shootout. This game was a microcosm to a season that saw Westbrook finish fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting. If it weren't for incredible seasons from three quarterbacks ahead of him, he would have had a better shot. In 2016, Westbrook caught 80 passes for 1,524 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Sooners pound the Aggies 77-0

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When the Sooners hosted the Aggies of Texas A&M in the 2003 season, they were looking for revenge against one of the two teams to beat them in the 2002 season. This was one of those games that was over before it even got started. The Sooners scored 49 points in the first half and were up 77-0 after three quarters. It was an embarrassment by every stretch of the imagination. The defense was dominant, and the offense let up in the fourth quarter to not run up the score. Even in letting up, the Sooners still handed Texas A&M the worst loss in their school's history that spanned 108 years at that time. With SEC migration on the horizon for the Sooners, so are the Aggies, who will constantly be reminded of this game every time the two teams play.

Samaje Perine Hulks out vs Kansas

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You know your favorite team has an illustrious history when a game that featured a player breaking the single-game rushing record comes in 12th on the list. But that's what the Oklahoma Sooners are. A team that constantly provides breathtaking moment after moment. And while it might only be 12th on this list, Samaje Perine's incredible effort against the Kansas Jayhawks in 2014 warrants mention as one of the most memorable moments in the Sooners Big 12 lifespan. With Cody Thomas starting at quarterback, the Sooners leaned heavily on the freshman running back, who accounted for 427 yards rushing, an NCAA record. Perine also caught one of the three passes Thomas completed for 19 yards. Perine averaged 12.6 yards per carry and scored five touchdowns against the hapless Jayhawks. It was as impressive a performance as you'll see from a running back. Perine ran through and ran away from defenders all day, providing highlight after highlight on his way to the single-game rushing record.

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