As one of college football’s most storied programs, Oklahoma has developed more than its share of superstar quarterbacks. Yet OU signal-callers were traditionally option quarterbacks, especially in Barry Switzer’s wishbone. They rarely had to pass well, and no Oklahoma QB won the Heisman (or even an O’Brien) until the Stoops era.
Baker Mayfield represents a fun fusion of these traditions. He plays with some of the athleticism and escapability that made guys like Jamelle Holieway special, but also has an arm to rival taller, more traditional pocket passers like Sam Bradford.
Mayfield’s 2016 season was a thing to behold—he set a new NCAA single-season record for passer rating (min. 15 attempts/game) and finished third in the Heisman balloting. And all that happened after a non-conference skid that made both those goals look totally unattainable.
Where does it rank among OU’s best quarterback performances of all time? It’s hard to compare a Switzer and Stoops quarterback, much less a Stoops and Wilkinson QB. But we’ll give it a shot, anyhow. Here are the ten best OU quarterback seasons ever:
#10: 2000 Josh Heupel
The stats: 64.6 completion %; 3,606 pass yards; 20 pass TDs; 15 INTs; 7 rush TDs
Winning a national title sure doesn’t hurt the legacy here. Heupel threw a lot of picks, but was way more mobile than most Stoops quarterbacks and, obviously, was good enough to take OU to the top.
#9: 1973 Steve Davis
The stats: 934 pass yards; 9 pass TDs; 6 INTs; 10.3 yards/attempt; 887 rush yards; 18 rush TDs
A sneaky-good passer and dangerous rushing threat, Davis had an excellent season in Barry Switzer’s first year in charge.
#8: 2012 Landry Jones
The stats: 66.1 completion %; 4,267 pass yards; 30 pass TDs; 11 INTs
Jones was incredibly prolific but not very efficient, but I think the major knock against him was the fact that he wasn’t Sam Bradford (it also doesn’t help that he didn’t improve much—or at all—from year to year, at least statistically).
#7: 2007 Sam Bradford
The stats: 69.5 completion %; 3,121 pass yards; 36 pass TDs; 8 INTs; 176.5 passer rating
I know it seems blasphemous to put any Bradford season this low, but these numbers pale in comparison to the following year.
#6: 2010 Landry Jones
The stats: 65.6 completion %; 4,718 pass yards; 38 pass TDs; 12 INTs
Jones’s best season offered a glimpse of his tantalizing capability—and had everyone drastically overestimating the 2011 Sooners.
#5: 2015 Baker Mayfield
The stats: 68.1 completion %; 3,700 pass yards; 36 pass TDs; 7 INTs; 173.3 passer rating; 405 rush yards; 7 rush TDs
Baker burst onto the season as an electric dual-threat the likes of which OU hadn’t seen in years. Few OU quarterbacks could protect the ball so well while also being so proficient.
#4: 2003 Jason White
The stats: 61.6 completion %; 3,846 pass yards; 40 pass TDs; 10 INTs
This season made White OU’s first Heisman quarterback and gave it a shot at a national title. Can’t ask for much more.
#3: 1971 Jack Mildren
The stats: 889 pass yards; 10 TDs, 2 INTs; 199.5 passer rating; 13.1 yards/attempt; 1,289 rush yards; 20 rush TDs
Apparently Mildren was the original Johnny Football. Those are some gaudy rushing numbers for the Chuck Fairbanks squad that finished 11-1 and—hey hey—beat Auburn in the Sugar Bowl.
#2: 2016 Baker Mayfield
The stats: 70.9 competion %; 3,965 pass yards; 40 pass TDs; 8 INTs; 196.4 passer rating; 11.1 yards/attempt; 177 rush yards; 7 rush TDs
Baker’s 2016 campaign is nearly unrivaled in Sooners history. There was almost nothing he didn’t do exceptionally well, and he’s proven to be the perfect college quarterback.
#1: 2008 Sam Bradford
The stats: 67.9 completion %; 4,720 pass yards; 50 pass TDs; 8 INTs; 180.8 passer rating; 9.8 yards/attempt; 5 rush TDs
I don’t know if it will ever be topped. Fifty touchdowns? C’mon. The only things that could have improved this season were a Texas win and a national championship. But Bradford certainly earned his statue in Heisman Park.
What do you think, Sooners fans?