Ready for a big finish
BY JOHN E. HOOVER World Sports Writer
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
12/28/10 at 6:11 AM
Related Story: OU bowl log
PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. - DeMarco Murray is going out just like he wanted to.
Murray is a fifth-year senior at Oklahoma. He's played in 49 games, started 31, has set numerous records and will go down as possibly the most uniquely diverse offensive player in school history.
Saturday, when No. 9 OU (11-2) meets No. 25 Connecticut (8-4) in the 40th Fiesta Bowl, Murray finally will have a chance to reflect on his career as a Sooner.
"I never thought I'd make it this far or be here for this long or do some of the things that I've done here," he said Monday. "It's just a great feeling knowing I can end my last year, my last game here, with a BCS game."
Believe it or not, the Fiesta Bowl will be just the second time Murray has suited up for a bowl game.
"One," he said. "Yeah. That's all."
And that one, though a victory over a ranked Stanford team in the Sun Bowl last year, was largely forgettable for Murray: 27 rushing yards on 20 carries. He did have three catches for 40 yards but a running back's meat and potatoes is running the football, and Murray didn't like his results in the Sun Bowl.
"Yeah," he said. "Bad."
So against the Huskies, whose defense ranks 57th nationally against the run, Murray would like to go out with a bang.
"I feel like everybody's ready for this game," he said. "We've been working hard, not making a lot of mistakes in practice. Not having to repeat a lot of things. So I think we've got a really great game plan."
Most of all, Murray wants another bowl victory. He's been a part of OU teams that have won four Big 12 championships and now played in four BCS bowls.
"It's just a great feeling," he said. "I've grown up around great friends here and I've played with a lot of great teams here, so it's just an awesome feeling."
Murray's list of accomplishments at OU reads like those of a Heisman contender or at least an All-American: career touchdowns, career all-purpose yards, career kickoff return average, 1,000-yard seasons, receptions - he literally owns all kinds of school records. He's also in the top five of many Big 12 Conference marks and even has made several NCAA lists.
"Sometimes when I see or hear about it, I still can't believe I did it," he said, referring primarily to his OU records of 64 touchdowns and 6,626 all-purpose yards. "I never thought in a million years that I would be the one breaking those records. I don't know how long they were here, but they were here for a long time, and a lot of great players have come through here. So it's weird. Crazy. Mind-boggling."
Yet Murray has never been on anyone's Heisman watch list, and his only All-American accolades have been honorable mention or academic.
But that's just Murray. He rushed for 1,121 yards and 14 touchdowns this season, caught 69 passes for 595 yards and five TDs and returned 10 kickoffs for 249 yards. Taken by themselves, none of his numbers are shockingly good.
Instead, Murray's excellence has been defined over time. Now he wants to put on a big show in a bowl game.
"I'm sure he's so excited. I'm excited for him," receiver Ryan Broyles said. "He's put in his time here, and him being in the position he is now, to finish his career off this way, definitely sending him out with a bowl win is gonna be a great deal."
Said Murray, "I've loved every moment here playing for the Oklahoma Sooners, and I love this university and my teammates. It's time to move on. It's a great feeling."
A by-the-numbers look at DeMarco Murray's career at Oklahoma.
Career touchdowns. The old record at OU was 57, held by Steve Owens. That's also fourth in Big 12 history behind Taurean Henderson (69), Cedric Benson (67) and Ricky Williams (67).
Career points. That's first overall in OU history and fourth in Big 12 history and seventh in NCAA history (for non-kickers).
Career receiving yards. That's a record for OU running backs.
Career all-purpose yards. That's second in Big 12 history behind Darren Sproles (6,812). It also shatters Joe Washington's OU record (5,881).
Career rushing attempts. That's fourth in OU history behind Steve Owens (958), Adrian Peterson (747) and Quentin Griffin (744).
Career rushing yards. That will rank sixth in OU history (Quentin Griffin is fifth with 3,938) and is just behind Ricky Williams (3,661) for eighth in Big 12 history.
Career receptions. That's second among OU running backs (Quentin Griffin had 169).
Career kickoff return average. That's a record at OU.
Murray is the only player in school history to have 1,000 all-purpose yards in four seasons. He's also the second Sooner with 1,000 career yards rushing, receiving and returning (Buster Rhymes was the first).
John E. Hoover 581-8384
OU running back DeMarco Murray has set school records for career touchdowns, points and all-purpose yards. MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World file