Oklahoma Football Owns Most Top-5 Finishes in History of Associated Press Poll

It took an undefeated run through the Big 12 this season, capped off with an impressive Sugar Bowl win over an SEC opponent in 14th-ranked Auburn, but Oklahoma football managed to claw its way back to a No. 5 finish in the final Associated Press poll for the 2016 college season.

Mar 6, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners guard Gioya Carter (25) and Oklahoma Sooners forward Kaylon Williams (42) reach for a rebound in front of Baylor Bears guard Niya Johnson (2) and Baylor Bears guard Alexis Prince (12) in fourth quarter during the women

Mar 6, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners guard Gioya Carter (25) and Oklahoma Sooners forward Kaylon Williams (42) reach for a rebound in front of Baylor Bears guard Niya Johnson (2) and Baylor Bears guard Alexis Prince (12) in fourth quarter during the women

Every fan in the Sooner Nation knows how remarkable that is, considering that Oklahoma lost two of its first three games this past season before proceeding to go undefeated over its final 10 games.

Over those final 10 games, the Sooners ran the table in the Big 12 and slowly moved their way back up the national rankings ladder after falling completely out of the top 25 just three weeks into the season. Oklahoma began the season at No. 3 in the AP poll, so the journey back was a long but highly satisfying one considering the landmarks in between.

The Sooners have finished No. 5 in the AP Top 25 in back-to-back seasons and in the top six in three of the past four years.

This gives Oklahoma 30 top-five finishes in football in the 81-year history of the AP poll. That is five more than the next closest team, Ohio State. Notre Dame is third on that illustrious list, tied with Alabama, both with 23 top-five finishes, and Texas is fifth with 20.

Oklahoma finished even higher in the rankings in the Coaches Poll, ending up at No. 3. That is the Sooners’ highest ranking in that poll since the 2004 season, when OU played USC in the BCS national championship game.

Nov 12, 2016; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) passes the ball against the Baylor Bears during the first quarter at Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 12, 2016; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) passes the ball against the Baylor Bears during the first quarter at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

No college team had a more prolific offense this season than Oklahoma. Offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley was blessed with offensive talent that included a two-time Heisman finalist at quarterback in Baker Mayfield, the best one-two running back combination in the country in Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon and the nation’s top wide receiver in Dede Westbrook. Pretty hard not to put up big yardage totals and plenty of points with that much talent on hand.

The Sooners were No. 2 in the country this past season in total offense (554.8 yards per game) and No. 3 in scoring offense ( No. 1 among Power Five teams), averaging 43.9 points per game. Mayfield set an FBS record for passing efficiency (193.8) and led the country, completing 71 percent of his passes.

OU’s defense in 2016 was highly suspect a good part of the season. As maligned as the defense was this season, it did show marked improvement in the Sooners final few games of the regular season and in the Sugar Bowl triumph over Auburn.

To the credit of Mike Stoops’ defensive unit, it did face seven teams (out of 13 total) that ranked in the top 31 nationally in total offense. Against the big passing offenses of the Big 12, the Sooners were strong defensively, allowing teams to complete just over 50 percent of their pass attempts.

All things considered, a very successful 2016 football season for the Oklahoma Sooners, and one that could have been even better had the ball bounced a little differently early on.

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