NORMAN, Okla. — Oklahoma’s offensive line strength didn’t go overlooked this year.
After missing the final cut for the 2017 Joe Moore Award, the Sooners’ offensive front is now one of three finalists for the top honor along with Alabama and Georgia.
Bobby Evans (left tackle), Ben Powers (left guard), Creed Humphrey (center), Dru Samia (right guard) and Cody Ford (right tackle) have helped OU average 6.7 yards per rush, despite injuries to two different running backs. The Sooners lead the nation in 11.6 yards per pass attempt.
OU ranks second in the Big 12 with 1.23 sacks allowed per game.
The Joe Moore winner will be announced in late December in a surprise visit to the school’s campus.
OU and Alabama will meet head-to-head Dec. 29 in the Orange Bowl in a College Football Playoff semifinal.
“Great challenge going up against a great team. They have tremendous players,” Ford said. “I think it's a great opportunity for us, definitely, to go out there, prove what we've been working for and to let everyone know that we have been working for something, that on the big stage, we can play.”
• Waiting game: OU linebacker Kenneth Murray didn’t let Sunday’s CFP announcement keep him out of church. But he was still glued to a screen with some uncertainty over whether the Sooners would be selected among the top four semifinalists.
“I actually found out while I was at church. Great place to find out,” Murray said. “My pastor actually was watching it on his phone and he was like, ‘Look, they’re fixing to decide right now.’ We were watching anxiously, then a commercial came up. Then finally it came back on and we found out we were in. I did a little celebration outside the church before I went inside and give to the Lord.”
OU quarterback Kyler Murray was in bed watching ESPN when the news was announced. Like others, he wasn’t totally sure the Sooners (12-1) would be selected.
“The more that they talked about it at the beginning, I kind of had the feeling we might get snubbed by Georgia at the end,” Kyler Murray said. “But when it came down to it, it just kind of made sense.”
• Back to the future: MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported that Murray’s baseball future with Oakland is unchanged, despite his status as a potential favorite for the Heisman Trophy.
“[Murray] will be in spring training with the A’s,” Murray’s agent Scott Boras told Heyman.
With Saturday’s Heisman ceremony and OU’s CFP trip upcoming, Murray’s plans beyond football aren’t on his mind.
“I’m not really focused on that,” he said. “If I was, I think it would take away from a lot of the great things that are happening right now. I don’t think I would be all in it right now if I was thinking about that stuff. It’s obviously something that I have to think about. It’s coming up pretty quick. Right now it’s not really on my mind or on the top of my list of things to talk about. We’ll figure it out.”
• Orange is OK: The Sower statue on OU’s campus had an armful of Oranges on Monday. The culprit? Orange Bowl committee member Derek Green, who has been in town for work.
Wearing one of the committee’s signature orange blazers — similar enough to cause confusion with Texas and Oklahoma State’s school colors — isn’t always an easy task in Norman.
“People thought at first I might be defacing it, with this orange jacket,” Green said. “You get some cross looks across campus, then you show them the patch and the badge, then they get happy. Obviously OU’s had success at the Orange Bowl. It’s been great.”
OU and Alabama will meet at Hard Rock Stadium, which has undergone more than $500 million in recent renovations.
“A lot of improvements have been made,” Green said. “The fans are definitely going to enjoy the experience.”