A rare trifecta for Sooners
Oklahoma will be first team since 1993 to face all three top Heisman finishers.
NORMAN, OklA. — So which of the three finalists for the Heisman Trophy really has been college football’s best player this season? Check back with the Oklahoma Sooners after the Cotton Bowl and they could offer an educated opinion.
No. 12 Oklahoma (10-2) will complete a Heisman trifecta of sorts when the Sooners face No. 10 Texas A&M (10-2) in the Jan. 4 bowl game in Arlington, Texas. The Aggies are led by quarterback Johnny Manziel, who earlier this month became the first freshman to win the Heisman and on Tuesday was named as the AP Player of the Year.
Oklahoma already has faced the other two players who finished in the top three in the Heisman balloting: Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o and Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein.
“Yeah, I’ve thought about that, believe me,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said Tuesday, addressing reporters for the first time since the Sooners closed the regular season with a 24-17 win over TCU. “They’re excellent players, all of them.”
Oklahoma will become the first team to face the top three finishers in the Heisman balloting since 1993, when Florida played against Florida State and Heisman winner Charlie Ward, Tennessee and runner-up Heath Shuler and Alabama and thirdplace David Palmer.
Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones, a four-year starter for the Sooners, entered the season on most Heisman watch lists, but fell off with a couple of subpar early season performances. He never moved back into serious Heisman contention despite passing for 3,989 yards and 29 touchdowns with 10 interceptions.
Jones, who has a 39-10 career record as a starter, said he is curious about seeing the player dubbed “Johnny Football” but doesn’t think he needs to measure himself against Manziel, who passed for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns with eight interceptions and rushed for 1,181 yards and 19 TDs.
“You play against so many good players throughout the year,” Jones said. “I don’t know if it’s necessarily a chip on your shoulder. It’s just more of a way where you want to go out and you want to compete the way you know you can compete. If he has a great game, he has a great game. I don’t really have anything to do with his playing and what he’ll do on Jan. 4.”
Defensive tackle David King might, however, and he said Manziel poses a different challenge to Oklahoma’s defense than do other quarterbacks, comparing him with last year’s Heisman winner, Robert Griffin III of Baylor.
“We can’t allow him to just run on us all day,” King said. “Obviously, that’s what he’s been doing and he’s been very successful. That’s a lot of how he won the Heisman. He’s a playmaker. If it’s not there, he’s going to just run and teams have had a hard time stopping him.
“We just have to have our best game of the season by far in containing him and not letting him do what he wants to do all night.”