Oklahoma's DeMarco Murray wastes no time in record-setting Sooners debut
They say in life, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. On Sept. 1, 2007, Oklahoma's DeMarco Murray made the most of his chance.
Murray, who redshirted for the Sooners in 2006, looked to be attempting to make up for lost time in his long-awaited debut. Murray rushed for five touchdowns on that Saturday against North Texas, still an NCAA record for a player making his collegiate debut.
Oklahoma beat North Texas 79-10.
|NOTE: Murray also caught two passes for 13 yards.|
Heading into this contest, Sooner fans -- and the media in Norman -- wondered who could possibly fill the big shoes left when Adrian Peterson left Oklahoma for the bright lights of the NFL. They all got their answer in quick fashion, as four of Murray's touchdowns came in the first half.
The win was Oklahoma's most lopsided in a opener since a 73-3 win against New Mexico State to start the 1989 season and its second-highest point total since 1919.
It was a rough welcome to big-time college football for North Texas coach Todd Dodge, who made the transition from high school to Division I in this game.
Dodge led Southlake Carroll to three consecutive state titles in Texas. The loss against Oklahoma was Dodge's first defeat since the Texas state title game in 2003. In his last five seasons with Carroll, Dodge's teams went a combined 79-1.
Dodge was released seven games into the 2011 season after amassing a 6-37 mark. He is now coaching at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas.
By the time Murray's career ended, he would become (and still is) Oklahoma's career leader in:
• Total points scored (390)
• Touchdowns (65)
• All-purpose yards (6,718)
• Receiving yards for a running back (1,571)
• Kickoff return average (27.6)
"We absolutely love the guy because he's been a team player, a humble guy and a special player," Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops told radio station KRLD. "He definitely is one of my all-time favorites because of his responsibility, accountability, not just talent, but everything off the field.
"He's just so versatile," Stoops told the station. "He can do so many things. He's big and strong to pass protect, he's got great hands out of the backfield in all kinds of ways. And on top of that, the running ability."
Backfield of dreams
Oddly enough, many accounts of the North Texas game led not with Murray's historic day, but with another record-breaking debut. Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford threw for 363 yards and three touchdowns. Bradford broke Josh Heupel's record for passing yardage in a half that was set against Baylor in 2000, going 20-for-22 for 350 yards in the first half.
The combined performance of the two newbies prompted The Oklahoman to call the pair "Backfield of Dreams." They were roommates in Norman back in the day, the paper told us, both of them redshirting through their first years, waiting for and dreaming of the moment when they'd finally hit the stage. They met on a recruiting trip and told the paper they made a crucial decision right then and there.
"Right there then, we wanted to be roommates,” Murray said. "Quarterback and running back, we wanted to get to know each other a little more.”
They also found support through their redshirt seasons.
"We'd fight through it every day,” Murray told the paper.