Barry Sanders

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Oklahoma State launches cryptic Heisman campaign for Mason Rudolph

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Whoever is responsible for the social media content and Pr work at Oklahoma State may have just gotten to work after watching “National Treasure” or “Indiana Jones,” because the teaser for a Heisman Trophy campaign for quarterback Mason Rudolph needed a decoder ring to figure things out.

I did not spend time trying to figure this one out, although I had a slight hunch. Thankfully, others on Twitter were able to crack the code shared by Oklahoma State on Twitter. Each letter in the message is two letters of the alphabet removed from the intended letter. Once you work through the secret message, you unveil the message “Mason Rudolph for Heisman.”

And there you go. The Heisman Trophy campaign season is officially underway in Stillwater. This year’s Heisman race should be a fun one with a number of talented players returning to the field this season, including Rudolph. When Bovada released their Heisman Trophy odds in late February, Rudolph was given a 14/1 shot to become Oklahoma State’s second Heisman Trophy winner in school history, joining Barry Sanders.

Rudolph passed for 4,091 yards and 28 touchdowns with just four interceptions.

Oklahoma State tops No. 22 Texas in Stillwater for first time since 1997

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Oklahoma State (3-2, 101 Big 12) had the look of a Big 12 contender Saturday afternoon against No. 22 Texas (2-2, 0-1 Big 12). It also looked like Texas still has a long way to go to play up to the level Charlie Strong would prefer in Austin. Oklahoma State and Texas played  a wild second half with four lead exchanges, but it was the Cowboys who took control of the Big 12 contest in the second half en route to a 49-31 victory.

Mason Rudolph passed for 392 yards and three touchdowns without an interception for Oklahoma State. Jalen McCleskey was on the receiving end for 109 of those yards and two of the touchdowns and Justice Hill led the Oklahoma State ground game with 137 yards and a touchdown. Barry Sanders Jr. also contributed a touchdown on the ground. As a team, Oklahoma State rolled up 557 yards of offense and converted seven of 15 third down plays against Texas. The Longhorns have looked shabby on defense this season, and this was just the latest example of how far off Strong’s defense is from where he would like to see it.

Oklahoma State’s defense gave up some big plays and yards as well. Texas actually out-gained Oklahoma State with 568 yards, including an astounding 329 on the ground. But the Longhorns had the one turnover of the game and could not find a way to stop Oklahoma State every time it looked as though Texas could seize momentum.

Texas running back D'Onta Foreman was forced to leave the game with an injury in the third quarter. He went down without contact after taking a handoff, clutching his right rib and going down voluntarily before being touched by an Oklahoma State defender. Before his awkward exit, Foreman had rushed for 146 yards and two touchdowns. Oklahoma State’s James Washington was also knocked out of the game following a big hit, but Gundy said after the game he expects Washington will be available next week.

This was Oklahoma State’s first home win against Texas since 1997. The Longhorns had won eight straight meetings in Stillwater. All but one of those wins had come by a double-digit margin. Oklahoma State will look to keep the good vibes going next week with another home game. This time, Iowa State comes to town after suffering a gut-wrenching loss at home this afternoon against Baylor. Iowa State blew a 14-point lead and lost on a game-winning field goal by the Bears.

It will not get easier next week for Texas as the Red River Shootout Rivalry gets fired up in Cotton Bowl Stadium next week at the state fair in Dallas. Texas shocked Oklahoma last year, seemingly boosting Strong’s job security at least a little bit. Will he need some magic once again this season to defeat the Sooners?

Nebraska restores weight room records following complaints

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A lack of consistency in testing procedures led to a decision by Nebraska to remove weight room records from a screen at the Suh Strength Complex. This was a decision that did not go over well with players, both past and present, but fortunately those records have been restored.

The Nebraska Twittersphere caught wind of the decision to remove the old records courtesy of former Nebraska wide receiver Kenny Bell, now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Bell went on a mini-monologue about the Huskers essentially removing history and the memories of those who put in work for the program, including running back Ameer Abdullah (now with the Detroit Lions).

The records in thew weight room were removed because there was a lack of consistency between training and workouts over the years those records were kept and shared. That makes some sense, but it is not as though we are talking about recognizing a running back’s career rushing yards that includes postseason bowl games when the postseason stats for players like Barry Sanders and Herschel Walker are not retroactively included (not to mention those players played at a time when regular seasons were a maximum of 11 games long). These are weight room records. Over time, how a player trains evolves and new workouts and exercises come along that are believed to be more beneficial. That could be a part of the reason for any inconsistency in the weight room.

In any event, the voices were heard and Nebraska has restored the previously removed records in the weight room.

Barry J. Sanders confirms he’s moving from Stanford to Okla. St. as grad transfer

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A move that has been two months in the making has been confirmed by one of the principles involved.

In an interview with The Oklahoman, Barry J. Sanders confirmed that he will be transferring into the Oklahoma State football program and playing his final season of college football with the Cowboys.  Sanders will graduate from Stanford this summer; as such, he will be eligible to play immediately for OSU in 2016 after he arrives this June.

In early January, Sanders confirmed his intention to transfer from the Cardinal after receiving a release from his scholarship.  That confirmation came a month or so after speculation began growing that Sanders, the son of Heisman-winning OSU legend Barry Sanders, was considering a move to his father’s alma mater, talk that prompted Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy to address the issue.

As the younger Sanders will be following in some rather sizable Stillwater shoes, he discussed the move with his father before deciding to become the second Barry Sanders to have his name on an OSU uniform.

“His message to me was to keep an open mind,” Sanders told the newspaper. “I think that he would have wanted me to look at more schools. He definitely didn’t want me to make a decision without considering other options. What I told him was that this was something I’ve been thinking about for some time. I just knew this was the right decision and the right fit for a variety of different reasons.

“So when I kind of explained my reasons behind it, he was pretty comfortable with it and he’s just as excited as I am.”

Sanders was a four-star member of the Cardinal’s 2012 recruiting class, rated as the No. 9 running back in the country and the No. 2 player at any position in the state of Oklahoma. He chose Stanford over, among others, Alabama and the Big 12 OSU.

The last three seasons, Sanders has rushed for 672 yards (5.8 yards per carry) and five touchdowns. He’s also caught 12 passes for 89 yards and averaged 9.5 yards on 10 punt returns.

Cam Newton is first Heisman Trophy winner to win NFL MVP since Barry Sanders

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On the eve of the Super Bowl, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was named the Most Valuable Player of the National Football League. He is the first Heisman Trophy winner to win the NFL’s MVP award since Detroit Lions running back and former Oklahoma State star Barry Sanders was named the best player in the NFL in 1997. Sanders shared the MVP honors that season with Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre, which means Newton is the first Heisman Trophy winner to be the outright winner of the NFL’s MVP award since 1985, when Los Angeles Raiders running back Marcus Allen won the award (Allen was a Heisman Trophy running back for USC in 1981.

Newton becomes the first quarterback to win the top honor at the college and NFL level and joins a short list by becoming the sixth player to receive both awards. Newton was a Heisman Trophy quarterback for Auburn during the 2010 season, in which he fueled a BCS Championship Run. Newton now can become the first player in football history to win the Heisman Trophy, a college national championship, NFL MVP and a Super Bowl. To do that, Newton will have to lead the Panthers past the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning, who is perhaps one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time but was passed over for a Heisman Trophy by Michigan’s Charles Woodson in 1997 (Manning finished second in the voting that season).

It is somewhat amazing to think that grand slam of football has never been achieved once since the NFL MVP award was first awarded by the Associated Press in 1957, but it also goes to show that sometimes the best players in college and the NFL do not always achieve the top-level of championship success.

Players to win Heisman Trophy and NFL MVP

  • RB Paul Hornung
  • RB O.J. Simpson
  • RB Earl Campbell
  • RB Marcus Allen
  • RB Barry Sanders
  • QB Cam Newton