NEW ORLEANS – It was a typical performance by Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine. It wasn’t flashy. It wasn’t always pretty, but it was, as usual, very effective.
Perine rushed for 86 yards on 17 attempts with a touchdown to become OU’s all-time leading rusher in program history in a 35-19 win in the Sugar Bowl against Auburn.
OU’s entire history.
Joe Washington. Billy Sims. Adrian Peterson. Steve Owens. You get the idea. Now Perine, just a junior, stands above them all.
“I had no idea [that this would happen],” Perine said. “I came in with an open mind and things fell into place, and here we are. It’s a great accomplishment. Right now I’m just happy we got the win, and I’m going to celebrate with my team.”
Perine set the record on a 15-yard run with 5:03 left in the fourth quarter. He needed 83 yards against the Tigers to set the mark.
Perine getting the record epitomized what OU was able to do in enforcing its will. The Sooners were limited to 18 rushing yards in the first quarter and only 10 for Perine before things changed.
OU concluded with 228 rushing yards with Joe Mixon and Perine combining for three touchdowns.
Washington, who is always around Norman and has gotten to know Perine well in the last couple of years, had nothing but kind words for him.
“He just said congratulations and that it couldn’t happen to a better person,” Perine said.
Now the question remains whether Perine will completely put a gap between No. 1 and No. 2. Perine and Mixon both have decisions to make in terms of either entering the NFL or coming back to OU for the 2017 season.
Mixon said it’s something he hasn’t really talked about yet, while Perine was a little more coy about it after the Sugar Bowl.
“You’ll find out when everybody else does,” Perine said.
Perine has 4,122 yards in his three years at OU. Sims is now No. 2 at 4,118.
Perine has never talked a lot about the record, but it was important to his offensive line and important to quarterback Baker Mayfield.
"Right before that last drive, I had talked to Tyler on the sideline and asked him to give me an update on the yardage mark, because I knew he had to be somewhere close," Mayfield said. "And he was 30 yards away. And I told the offensive line. And they kind of geared up. And they said we still have to finish it out the right way, but it's just extra motivation for you.
"So the record means a lot. So when you drive down the field and kind of doing the math in my head. And he finally made that last long run, and it was just enough. And I went and hugged him.
"It meant a lot. Like Coach Stoops said when he talked about division of running backs that come through OU, he will never talk about it, but it's pretty special. And just to be out there on the field with him, it's pretty special to me."