Third time could be the charm

NORMAN, Okla. — The Sooners have already had rounds one and two this year with Heisman finalists and neither of those turned out very well.

First, Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein, the third-place finisher in Saturday's award presentation, accounted for 238 yards of total offense back in a 24-19 September victory over the Sooners at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.

He threw for 154 yards on 13-of-21 passing, while also posting 84 rushing yards and a touchdown in the ground game.

The stats, however, don't necessarily tell the entire story with him; rather, it was his will to win down the stretch and clutch play in converting a pair of critical third downs, including a 12-yard pass on third-and-6 and moments later a Heisman-like 5-yard game-clenching run on third-and-3 that sealed the deal.

With Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o in the next month's Top 10 primetime showdown on Owen Field, it was a similar story, though it's impossible to say his stats on that evening weren't impressive.

Te'o came up with a game-high 11 tackles, including a pair for loss and a sack, while picking off a Landry Jones pass at one of the most crucial points in that game.

OU, out to its own 41-yard line, appeared poised to put together a solid drive and perhaps tie the game up with less than five minutes remaining.

But there was Te'o, the second-place finisher in last weekend's award presentation, in the right place at the right time to have his Heisman moment on a tipped pass interception.

Now comes the biggest challenge of them all: Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel or Johnny Football or Johnny Heisman, his latest nickname after becoming the first ever freshman to win the award the other night.

The Sooners will have to defend the guy who has accounted for 43 total touchdowns in 2012, while throwing for more than 3,400 yards and rushing for another 1,181.

They'll have to handle the signal caller who pulled off the upset of then-No. 1 Alabama by passing for 253 yards and two touchdowns while gashing the Crimson Tide for another 92.

They'll have to upset—and that word hasn't been used too often in these two teams' meetings in the recent past—their former Big 12 South brethren who has posted an impressive 10-2 mark in their inaugural SEC campaign.

That is the challenge.

It's the third challenge for the Sooners against 2012 Heisman finalists, the only such team that can say that.

Perhaps this time the Sooners could best one of them.

The best of the best according to the Heisman voters.

Could the third time be the charm?

We'll find out when the two meet in the Cotton Bowl January 4 in Arlington, Texas.


Sooners Illustrated Top Stories