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Oklahoma Sooners Football - RJ’s Thoughts: The running game, the Rose Bowl and Boomer Sooner

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RJ tells you one stat, one player and one story you need to know before the Rose Bowl.

NCAA Football: Big 12 Championship-Texas Christian vs Oklahoma Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

ONE INTRO: Hi, I’m RJ!

What’s good, fam? I’m RJ Young. I am not on a step mill. I covered Sooners football, men’s basketball and softball for five years. I earned a master's degree at the University of Oklahoma, and I’m earning a Ph.D at Oklahoma State, which means I do stuff like pass out Ls on Stillwater’s campus in my Sooners jersey. So that’s me. Feel free to say hi. I’mma be where I’m at.

ONE STAT: 104

That’s how many more rushing attempts (501) the No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners has than passing attempts (397) heading into its Rose Bowl matchup with No. 3 Georgia on New Year’s Day. What’s most remarkable about that number is the Sooners average 8.4 yards per play.

You know what that means? It means the chain-gang is running extra gasser after practice because the Sooners are picking up a first down every other play on average.

That’s just filthy. But what’s filthier still? The 5.6 yards per carry average Oklahoma owns without a single 1,000-yard rusher. The 215 yards rushing per game the Sooners average gets overlooked too often.

This is, in part, because of the Heisman winner at quarterback who could eclipse the 4,500-yard passing mark against UGA. But this 2017 group of running backs—all of which average better than 5.9 yards per carry deserves its due.

ONE PLAYER: Baker Mayfield

We’ve said so much about senior quarterback Baker Mayfield that it’s hard sometimes to say something new. But it remains refreshing when someone manages to do just that. This time it was former Sooners wide out and Heisman trophy finalist Dede Westbrook who laid out, in a column for The Players’ Tribune, in three sentences what Mayfield means to his teammates, his coaches and OU fans.

“Baker’s a winner, plain and simple,” he said. “He might not even be human for all I know. He can do things with a football that most humans just can’t do.”

But he is human.

He’s so human he picked up the OU flag, marched it out to the 50-yard line against Ohio State and planted it in Columbus, Ohio—an act he’s regretted since. He’s so human he talked noise to a Baylor team that won one more game this season than you have from your couch. Outsiders would say there was no need for Mayfield to assert himself, pre-game, by telling Baylor players OU was going to spank them. But he did, and he regrets that too.

He’s so human he took it personally when a few Kansas football players had a rush of blood to the head that led to an unsportsmanlike act. The KU captains refused to shake Mayfield’s hand, and that unsportsmanlike act led to another: Mayfield grabbing his Mayfields—letting his emotion get the better of him.

But these very human acts, are the reason Sooner fans love him. Because we’re human. We make mistakes, and we try to do better the next. We have low moments. We get angry. But we are as chippy as our quarterback. That’s what Oklahoma is. We’re the folks from the fly-over state who know we have to earn it every day. We’re a bunch of walk-ons running on belief and hustle.

I’m glad the rest of the college football world gets to see that personified in Baker Mayfield.

ONE STORY: Boomer Sooner, a history

“Boomers” are folks who campaigned for the Land Run of 1889.

“Sooners” are folks who didn’t wait for the government to tell them they could take what they believed was theirs.

“Boomer Sooner” includes both. WE are Oklahoma.

Enough campaigning. The Land Thieves will take it from here.

The lyrics to the University of Oklahoma fight song "Boomer Sooner" were written in 1905 by OU student Arthur M. Alden. The melody was stolen from the Yale University Fight Song "Boola Boola," which was previously stolen from black singer-songwriters Robert Allen Cole and Billy Johnson who wrote the hit "La Hoola Boola." Among other achievements, Cole and Johnson wrote, directed, produced and managed the first all-black musical to appear on Broadway. They copyrighted "La Hoola Boola" in 1898.

Since then, "Boomer Sooner" has taken on a life of its own. You can hear Heisman winner Billy Sims chanting it during the Heisman Trophy ceremony in 2017. You could hear the song played as entrance music for former WWE announcer Jim Ross during the 90s. But my favorite instance of "Boomer Sooner" becoming a character unto itself came during the Barry Switzer Era.

According to OU "Pride of Oklahoma" historian Terri Cooter, the band saved Bedlam for the Sooners in October 15, 1983. OU band director Gene Thrailkill was escorted out of Lewis Field "because he didn't have a field pass." while the Sooners trailed Oklahoma State 20-3. Thrailkill ordered his band to play the fight song—and not to stop until the Sooners were ahead.

The Pride is estimated to have played Boomer Sooner nearly 300 times that day. With 1:17 left in the game, the Sooners recovered a Cowboys fumbled, kicked a field goal and won the game 21-20. Switzer called it "The Day the Pride Won," and he gave the band the game ball.

LYRICS TO BOOMER SOONER

ONE VIDEO

ONE FINAL THOUGHT

The Oklahoma Sooners men’s basketball team didn’t expect to be world-beaters this year. Yes, OU coach Lon Kruger pulled a rabbit out of his hat when he earned a commit from a home-state and home-town 5-star point guard Trae Young. But the start the Sooners have gotten off to in non-conference play has quietly been one of the best stories of the fall.

That’s Kruger being Kruger, though.

I’ve never seen a coach trust his players to play more. I’ve never seen a coach so willing to teach. I’ve never seen him out-coached. He’s a joy to watch, and now he’s coaching a player who has come in better ready to play than any he’s coached at OU.

Young — no relation to me — has led the Sooners to a No. 12 ranking. He leads the nation in scoring and assists per game, and he’s all but gone to the NBA this summer in the 2018 draft.

So watch him. Watch him now.

Marvel at his feel for the game, his fearlessness to lead a bunch of older guys and his ability to splash from the blacktop. By that, I mean the parking lot. He’s in range from Lindsey Street, fam. And he plays for OU. Don’t wait until football season is over. The basketball season is half-done. Make it a point. Sit down for a couple hours, and watch this man hoop.