Hello once again, everybody! Welcome back to another installment in our 2019 Countdown to Kickoff series, where we’ve been counting down the days until the Oklahoma Sooners open the upcoming season against Houston on Sept. 1. As of today, there are 61 days until that first kickoff, which gives me an opportunity to reflect on Kenny Stills’ freshman season in 2010, when he caught an OU rookie record 61 passes.
Coming to Norman from Encinitas, Calif., Stills was a highly-touted four-star recruit ready to make waves the moment he stepped on Owen Field. Clearly Bob Stoops and his coaching staff took notice of the freshman’s readiness before the season, as he was pegged as a starter from the opener and never lost his spot for the remainder of his three-year career.
Stills helped fortify a thin receiving corps en route to a Big 12 Championship win over Nebraska and a Fiesta Bowl victory over UConn. For the season, the freshman phenom recorded 61 receptions for 786 yards and five touchdowns.
This record is even more amazing when you realize he wasn’t even close to leading the team in receiving that season. Ryan Broyles had 131 catches, and even DeMarco Murray hauled in 71 for himself. Also, the closest anybody is to Stills on Oklahoma’s all-time rookie receptions list is a group of some amazing OU pass-catchers. Mark Clayton, Broyles, and CeeDee Lamb each caught 46 balls when they were freshmen, and Sterling Shepard tallied 45 when he first arrived in 2012.
It remains to be seen if such a record will ever be seriously challenged any time soon. With the amount of quality depth Oklahoma has accrued over the years, several unforeseeable factors would have to come into play all at once for any freshman to burst onto the scene in such a fashion. Plus, Lincoln Riley and his QBs at OU have been great at spreading the wealth. With all that said, it’ll still be interesting to see just how close star-studded newcomers Trejan Bridges, Jadon Haselwood and Theo Wease could get this fall.
Now let’s cover any days we missed since our last countdown post:
62 Days! - The highest scoring team in program history
The 2008 Oklahoma Sooners, led by Heisman Trophy winning QB Sam Bradford, put together the most dominant display of offense over the course of a single season that college football had ever seen up to that point. While averaging over 51 points per game, OU’s BCS National Championship run was bolstered by a late season surge in the form of five straight games with 60 or more points.
In each of the bookending contests during this stretch, Oklahoma scored 62 points versus the opposition. Against Nebraska in Norman, the Sooners raced out to a furious start, scoring 28 points within the first six minutes of the game, and 35 by the end of the first quarter. Not even Ndamukong Suh could help out the Cornhuskers in this one. When it was all said and done, OU throttled the other Big Red, 62-28.
The fifth and final 60-plus game for the Sooners in ‘08 took place in the Big 12 Championship Game. Oklahoma represented the South Division following a tiebreaker with Texas and Texas Tech, while Missouri arrived in Kansas City as the champs of the North.
Perhaps the biggest news from this game happened from the very beginning, as DeMarco Murray was sidelined early with an injury. Still, the Tigers showed no signs of life nor answers for Oklahoma’s offensive onslaught. At the half it was 38-7 in favor of the Sooners, but with OU comfortably in the lead, scoring 60 points wasn’t exactly a shoe-in. Fortunately, a 21-point fourth quarter capped off by a 37-yard rushing TD by backup RB Mossis Madu gave the Crimson & Cream the final push to become the first team to score 60 or more five times in a row, while also winning the Big 12 title over Mizzou, 62-21.
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