Sterling Shepard

Big plays for Oklahoma leading to Bedlam Beatdown in Stillwater

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Big plays have been the key to a big first half for No. 3 Oklahoma in Stillwater. A 59-yard kickoff return to the Oklahoma State four-yard line set up Oklahoma’s first touchdown of a wild first half, and running backs Samaje Perine (68 yards) and Joe Mixon (66 yards) have ripped off long touchdown runs against No. 11 Oklahoma State and the Sooners hold a 44-20 lead on their in-state rivals at halftime.

Oklahoma’s first three touchdown drives all needed four plays or fewer, but the Sooners also showed it could work a drive and finish it off with a score as well. The Sooners put together a 12-play drive spanning 80 yards, with Baker Mayfield capping things off with a five-yard touchdown pass to Dimitri Flowers. Mayfield connected earlier with Sterling Shepard. Oklahoma State’s lone touchdown of the half came on a J.W. Walsh touchdown pass to Jhajuan Seales from 26 yards out. Walsh got the start instead of an injured Mason Rudolph. Rudolph sprained his ankle, but he did enter the game late in the first half as the Cowboys attempted to spark the passing game. Walsh was 13-of-19 for 133 yards and a touchdown before Rudolph entered the game. It did not go so well, as Rudolph was picked off by Jordan Thomas, who returned the interception 32 yards for a touchdown, giving Oklahoma a commanding 35-10 lead.

Just how bad of a half was this for Oklahoma State? It turns out it was the worst first half in over a decade.

Whichever team wins this game will be awarded the Big 12 championship. That was made clear when Baylor was upset by TCU last night in soggy Fort Worth, Texas. For Oklahoma, a win also likely secures a spot in the College Football Playoff despite being off next week. Oklahoma State may need a few more bounces to go their way given the most recent standings, but it would certainly be within reach if the Cowboys can beattle back to grab the win. Stopping Oklahoma’s offense to makr that happen may not be easy though given how the firts half played out.

Three from Big 12 headline Biletnikoff Award semifinalists

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Three wide receivers from the Big 12 are among the 10 semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award this season. Baylor’s Corey Coleman, TCU’s Josh Doctson and Oklahoma’s Sterling Shepard were among the 10 semifinalists for the award, which were revealed Tuesday morning by The Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation.

The 2015 Biletnikoff Award Semifinalists

Fans are now encouraged to cast their vote to help determine the three finalists for the award. by casting a fanvote online by November 22. The top three receivers receiving votes will each be given one official vote toward determining the finalists for the award by the award’s national selection committee. The winner will be announced on December 10 during the college football awards show on ESPN. Former Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard will announce the winner.

Last year’s winner was Alabama’s Amari Cooper. The last Big 12 player to win the award was Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon, who won back-to-back awards in 2010 and 2011 to join Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree (2007, 2008) as the only two-time winners.

Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield throws 5 TDs in first half vs. Kansas State

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A week after losing to rival Texas, No. 20 Oklahoma is out on a mission this week on the road against Kansas State. Baker Mayfield has thrown five touchdowns to lead the Sooners to a 35-0 halftime lead on the Wildcats.

Mayfield has completed 17 of 20 pass attempts for 230 yards while notching his five touchdown passes without an interception. More impressively, Mayfield has been spreading the football around with eight different Sooners catching a pass in the first half. Sterling Shepard leads the way with 72 receiving yards and two touchdowns, with three others picking up a touchdown reception as well. Oklahoma has not used much of the running game, leaving Samaje Perine with 50 rushing yards in the first half.

Kansas State has not helped itself much, with a pair of turnovers and just 80 yards of offense at the half (Oklahoma’s offense has gone for 317 yards). Both turnovers were interceptions thrown by Joe Hubener for Kansas State. Hubener has just four completions on 12 attempts, as Kansas State is really struggling to sustain drives against the motivated Sooners.

Two glaring omissions headline Biletnikoff watch list

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It’s not often that who’s not on what’s essentially a meaningless preseason watch list is the main storyline, but that’s the case when it comes to the Biletnikoff Award this year.

First, who is on the watch list for the award handed out annually to the nation’s top wide receivers: a total of 48 players at the position, which is actually a rather subdued number compared to other watch lists that come out this time of the year.

Headlining the four dozen receivers actually listed is Colorado State’s Rashard Higgins, who was a finalist for last year’s award that went to Alabama’s Amari Cooper.  Joining Higgins are 2014 semifinalists Sterling Shepard of Oklahoma and Nelson Spruce of Colorado.

Now, the players who was inexplicably excluded from the initial watch list? Auburn’s D’haquille Williams, first and foremost. The senior wideout was already named to the Maxwell Award watch list earlier this month. He’s considered by many to be the best receiver in the SEC — Mel Kiper has Williams as his No. 1 player at that position — yet four receivers from that conference are included.  The only receiver on the Biletnikoff watch list to also make Maxwell’s is South Carolina’s Pharoh Cooper.

Williams missed three of the last four games last season because of an injury, yet still totaled 45 receptions for 730 yards and five touchdowns. Kiper may have him a bit overrated on his Big Board, but Williams certainly deserves one of the 48 spots allotted — or the award should at least make room for a 49th.  Or a 49th and 50th.

That said, Williams can, and probably will, be added to an in-season update from the folks at the Biletnikoff.  The same could be said for Player. No. 2: Ole Miss’ Laquon Treadwell.

Despite missing the last four games of the year because of a gruesome leg injury, Williams still led the Rebels in receptions with 48 and was second in yardage with 632.  Like Williams, Treadwell made the cut for the Maxwell, which is awarded annually to the best player in college football regardless of position.

Anyway, below is the complete Biletnikoff Award preseason watch list.

Victor Bolden, Oregon State
Devonte Boyd, UNLV
Daniel Braverman, Western Michigan
Ryan Burbrink, Bowling Green
KD Cannon, Baylor
Leonte Carroo, Rutgers
Rashon Ceaser, ULM
Corey Coleman, Baylor
Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina
River Cracraft, Washington State
Jared Dangerfield, Western Kentucky
Corey Davis, Western Michigan
Josh Doctson, TCU
Travin Dural, LSU
Alex Erickson, Wisconsin
William Fuller, Notre Dame
Jakeem Grant, Texas Tech
DaeSean Hamilton, Penn State
Donovan Harden, Georgia State
Carlos Harris, North Texas
Rashard Higgins, Colorado State
Ajalen Holley, ULM
Cayleb Jones, Arizona
Corey Jones, Toledo
Isaiah Jones, East Carolina
Marcus Kemp, Hawaii
Roger Lewis, Bowling Green
Keevan Lucas, Tulsa
Byron Marshall, Oregon
Mitch Mathews, BYU
Teldrick Morgan, New Mexico State
Jordan Payton, UCLA
Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M
Jalen Robinette, Air Force
Demarcus Robinson, Florida
Alonzo Russell, Toledo
Artavis Scott, Clemson
Hunter Sharp, Utah State
Tajae Sharpe, Massachusetts
Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma
Thomas Sperbeck, Boise State
Nelson Spruce, Colorado
Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky
Trent Taylor, Louisiana Tech
Michael Thomas, Ohio State
Shaq Washington, Cincinnati
Mike Williams, Clemson
Ron Willoughby, Buffalo

Oklahoma’s air-raid offense will take some getting used to

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Oklahoma is looking to open things up on offense a bit in 2015. The air-raid offensive philosophy figures to be a way for the Sooners to keep pace with evolving offenses throughout the Big 12, and new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Lincoln Riley was brought in to join Bob Stoops‘ staff for just that reason. If the Sooners’ spring game was any indication, it could be a slight work in progress, but it has potential.

The biggest concern for Oklahoma right now is having the right personnel in place to effectively thrive using the air-raid offense. This will take a short period of time to address and adjust through recruiting, but Oklahoma has some receivers that should fit in nicely this fall. The Sooners welcome back senior Sterling Shepard, but what about the rest of his supporting cast? Durron Neal is there, which is good news, but Oklahoma is hoping some new additions can have an impact as well.

Sophomore Jeff Mead had a good spring game, leading the Sooners with three catches for 93 yards. His god hands hauled in a one-handed catch deep downfield on a throw from quarterback Baker Mayfield. He should be in position to have a nice role in the offense that looks to stretch the field.

One name to keep a close eye on will be junior college transfer Dede Westbrook. He caught one pass for a gain of 28 yards in Oklahoma’s spring game, but could find a role in the offense by the time the fall starts up.

Oklahoma will get there. The receivers will eventually fit into the new system. Stoops and Riley will find a quarterback properly equipped for an air-raid style, and work with what they have now to get the most they can out of it. Can they get it together in 2015? Or is the future looking brighter in 2016 in Norman?