Oklahoma football: A dozen Sooner fun football facts in Big 12 era

NORMAN, OK - SEPTEMBER 29: An end zone pylon during the Baylor Bears vs. Oklahoma Sooners game at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on September 29, 2018 in Norman, Oklahoma. Oklahoma defeated Baylor 66-33. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
NORMAN, OK - SEPTEMBER 29: An end zone pylon during the Baylor Bears vs. Oklahoma Sooners game at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on September 29, 2018 in Norman, Oklahoma. Oklahoma defeated Baylor 66-33. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** /

With the Big 12 facing another major restructuring — or worse, extinction — it got us thinking about the big Oklahoma football moments and some of the milestones the Sooners achieved over the past 25 years.

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Oklahoma football got off to a rugged start in the very early years of the then nascent Big 12 Conference, but they’ve more than made up for it in the years since.

The Big 12 officially began operation in 1996 as a combination of the former Big Eight Conference and four teams from what was the Southwest Conference.

Conference realignment changed the structure, membership and size of the conference after the first decade of the 2000s. Four teams left the Big 12, three from the former Big Eight (Nebraska, Colorado and Missouri) and one from the former Southwest Conference (Texas A&M) and replaced with the additions of TCU and West Virginia. The net result was a Big 12 with 10 members.

For the first 15 years the Big 12 was in existence, the conference was structured into two six-team division. The Sooners were part of the South Division, along with Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Baylor (all former Southwest Conference teams save for OU and Oklahoma State).

For the first three years as a member of the newly formed Big 12, the Oklahoma Sooners were the worst they had been in more than 50 years. Playing for OU football alum John Blake from 1996 to 1998, the Sooners won a total of 12 games and lost 22 in their first three Big 12 seasons and never finished higher than fourth out of the six teams in the South Division.

Bob Stoops took over the program beginning in 1999, and in his second season, Oklahoma won its seventh and most recent national championship. That’s when the Sooners regained their footing and since that time have been the dominant player in Big 12 football.

Here are a dozen fun facts and notable accomplishments by Oklahoma on the gridiron as a proud and prominent member of the Big 12 Conference:

Conference championships: No Big 12 team comes close to Oklahoma in the number of conference championships. The Sooners have won the last six league titles and 14 overall in the 25-year history of the Big 12. The next closest is Texas with three. Baylor, Kansas State and Nebraska each won two.

Overall record: In 25 Big 12 seasons, Oklahoma has compiled a record of 247-75 (.767), far and away the best in the conference. As members of the Big 12, OU has has had three head coaches: John Blake (1996-98), Bob Stoops (1999-2016) and Lincoln Riley (2017-present).

National championship: Oklahoma owns seven national championships. Three as members of the Big Seven (1950, 1955 and 1956). three as members of the Big Eight (1974, 1975 and 1985) and one in the Big 12 (2000).

Heisman Trophy winners: Four Oklahoma quarterbacks (Jason White, 2003; Sam Bradford, 2008; Baker Mayfield, 2017; Kyler Murray, 2018) have won the Heisman Trophy while Oklahoma has been a member of the Big 12. In addition, OU starting quarterback Spencer Rattler is the preseason favorite to win the prestigious award in 2021.

Three other Sooner players have been Heisman runners-up in the voting (QB Josh Heupel in 2000, RB Adrian Peterson in 2004 and QB Jalen Hurts in 2019).

No. 1 overall NFL Draft picks: During the time the Sooners have been in the Big 12, three Oklahoma players, all quarterbacks, have been selected No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft: Sam Bradford in 2010, Baker Mayfield in 2018 and Kyler Murray in 2019.

Most offensive yards in a season: It’s probably not a big surprise that Oklahoma high-powered offense holds the Big 12 record for total offense in a season. The 2017 Sooner team, with Baker Mayfield at quarterback totaled 8,114 yards. That not only was best in the Big 12 that season, but also No. 1 in the nation.

Most points in a season: Led by Heisman winning quarterback Sam Bradford, the 2008 Sooner team scored 716 points, a Big 12 record for a season

Most yards rushing in a game: In 2014, in a home game against Kansas, Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine rushed for a Big 12 and NCAA record 427 yards in 34 carries, an average of 12.6 yards per attempt.

Bob Stoops became winningest coach in program history: Bob Stoops became the 21st head coach in OU football history when he assumed the role in 1999. He stayed for 18 seasons, second longest in program history (Bennie Owen was head coach for 22 seasons, 1905-1926). Stoops won 190 games in 18 seasons and is the winningest coach in Sooner football annals.

Consecutive postseason bowl appearances: Oklahoma did not go to a postseason bowl in the first two years of the Big 12. Since then, however, the Sooners have made 21 consecutive bowl appearances, including four BCS national championship games and four College Football Playoffs. During the Big 12 era, Oklahoma is the only team so far to make it into the playoff. OU’s bowl record in the Big 12 era is 9-12.

Consecutive home sellouts: Excluding the 2020 season when attendance was restricted due to COVID-19 health and safety concerns, Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium has been sold out since the opening game of the 1999 season, 129 consecutive home games. On Nov. 11, 2017, OU set a new home attendance record when 88,308 attended a game between the Sooners and TCU.

Consecutive home win streak: From 2005 to 2011, Oklahoma won 39 consecutive home games, an OU stadium record. That is also the fifth longest home winning streak in the modern era of college football (World War II to the present).