Don’t look now, but as of today, there are only 41 days remaining before the Oklahoma Sooners get the 2018 season underway. In this edition of our Countdown to Kickoff series, let’s take a look back at one of the more spectacular connections in the last few years.
It was the 2016 Homecoming Weekend for the University of Oklahoma, and the Big 12 bottom-dwelling Kansas Jayhawks strolled into Norman to face the cream of the conference crop. Even with eventual Heisman finalists Baker Mayfield and Dede Westbrook running the show, Oklahoma’s offense got off to a relatively slow start.
Nearly five minutes into the second quarter, the lone score on the board for the Sooners came by way of a Westbrook punt return. Other than that, the Jayhawks were slowly building confidence on defense. That is, until Mayfield and Westbrook took the top off of it.
Mayfield faked one way before rolling out to his left, and the eventual Biletnikoff Award winning Westbrook used his superior speed to beat every man down the field. Mayfield zipped a pass right down the middle of the field and dropped it in the only place Westbrook could snag it without being interfered with. In just a few seconds, something incredible happened:
Baker Mayfield’s pass was amazing because it was right on the money, but Dede Westbrook’s effort and concentration were otherworldly. How Westbrook held onto the ball and made it all look so easy, I’ll never know.
Of course, the flood gates opened after that highlight-worthy pitch-and-catch, and Oklahoma stomped Kansas by a score of 56-3. It took a little sprinkle of the sensational to wake up the machine, but once the Sooners got going, there was no stopping them.
Now let’s cover the day we missed since our last countdown post:
42 days! - Rufus Alexander
Oklahoma has a strong history of top-notch linebackers, and Rufus Alexander is one who certainly stood out in his day. After establishing himself as a one-man wrecking crew, Alexander was named to the Big 12 First-Team in 2005 and 2006, as well as Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and a First-Team All-American in his senior season.
Alexander went on to pursue a professional playing career, and in the 2007 NFL Draft, Alexander was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the sixth round. After some unfortunate luck with a devastating knee injury, Alexander’s stint in the NFL was short-lived. Still, fans of the Oklahoma Sooners will always remember Rufus Alexander as a guy who just made tackles. And whenever he did, Sooner Nation would let him know their appreciation with a booming “RUUUUUfus!”
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