As we approach another college football season, there are plenty of storylines. Will Florida repeat as champs? Will we have only the second two-time winner of the Heisman in college football history? Is Charlie Weis ever going to return Notre Dame to prominence?
Another hot topic among college football fans is the incoming freshmen class. Generally freshmen are not expected to contribute in a major way during their first season on campus. However, if you're fortunate enough to find a stud freshman, that can be the difference between a good season and a great season.
That brings us to Adrian Peterson. Oklahoma was already a pretty good team prior to his arrival, but he turned them into title contenders immediately.
In recent history, nobody made a bigger splash on campus in his first year than Adrian Peterson. In his first collegiate game, he rushed for 100 yards on 16 carries with a touchdown during a 40-24 victory over Bowling Green.
Peterson's 100 yards rushing in the season opener would be the first of nine-straight games going over the century mark. He would finish the regular season with over 100 yards rushing in 11 out of 12 games.
The following week, Peterson helped lead a 63-13 destruction of the Houston Cougars. he finished the game with 117 yards on the ground as well as two touchdowns. This game was the first of four games on the year in which he would score at least two touchdowns.
Peterson and the Sooners welcomed the Ducks of the University of Oregon to Norman in the third week of the season. Adrian put 183 yards on them averaging an astonishing 7.6 a carry. He also had his second consecutive two-TD performance in a convincing 31-7 Sooner victory.
Week four signaled the opening of conference play. The Texas Tech Red Raiders paid a visit to the Sooners’ home turf. Peterson totaled 146 yards on 22 carries, including a 61-yard TD run. Oklahoma remained undefeated with a 28-13 victory.
Adrian Peterson burst onto the college football scene and was making it look easy. However, there were a few skeptics out there who felt Peterson had not faced a tough test yet. Many looked to the upcoming game against arch rival Texas as a game where we were going to find out if "All Day" was the "Real Deal."
The Red River Shootout is always one of the biggest games of the year in college football. If you're a student, fan, or alumni of either the University of Texas or Oklahoma University, short of playing for a national title, this is the biggest game of the year.
Just like his first college game, Peterson seemed undaunted by all of the hype surrounding the game. In a defensive struggle (at least in score), Adrian's stat line read: 32 carries for 225 yards, including runs of 44 and 26 yards.
Talk about making an impression. If there was any remaining doubt about this kid, his performance in this game put all of that to rest.
So what do you do for an encore after lighting up one of your arch rivals? Continue your streak of rushing for over 100 yards. The next two opponents (Kansas State and Kansas) received doses of 130 yards and 122 yards each as the Sooners had no problems with either opponent to remain undefeated.
This brings us to the Oklahoma State game. Another chance for Peterson to shine against an arch rival. "All Day" ran over and around the Cowboys in Stillwater to the tune of 249 yards and a TD on 33 carries. Peterson put the Sooners up by 14 with an 80-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. That score helped Oklahoma hold off Oklahoma State, 38-35.
The following week against Texas A&M, Peterson notched his ninth consecutive game of at least 100 yards on the ground. His 101 yards on 29 carries and a score led OU to its ninth straight victory.
Adrian Peterson's streak of consecutive games of running for at least 100 yards came to an end against Nebraska. He was limited due to a shoulder injury and only registered 58 yards on the ground. The Sooners would have no problem disposing of the Cornhuskers, 30-3, however.
Against Baylor, Peterson would return to form. He notched his third and final 200+ yard performance of the season in a 35-0 dismantling of the Bears. With 240 yards on the ground and three touchdowns, Peterson cemented himself as a legitimate Heisman Trophy contender even though he was only a freshman.
In the Big 12 title game against Colorado, Peterson had his second consecutive game with three rushing tads (to go along with 172 yards on 28 carries), as the Sooners took care of the Buffaloes to land a berth in the BCS title game, 42-3.
Adrian's season would end on a sour note as the Sooners were destroyed by USC 55-19 in the title game. Peterson was held under 100 yards and kept out of the end zone. Although he was not able to finish the season as a National Champion, his level of play for the entire season could not be overlooked.
Peterson became the first Sooner to be named an All-American as a freshman, he finished second in the Heisman voting (which is the highest finish ever by a freshman), he was third in Maxwell voting, first freshman Doak Walker finalist, and set a NCAA freshman record for carries with 339.
"All Day" accumulated 1,925 yards on the ground for the season with a 5.7 yards per carry average and 15 touchdowns. Of course there have been other great freshman performances over the long and illustrious history of college football. What made Adrian Peterson stand out in addition to his great stats, was his pure physical ability.
Most freshmen need to be put into a vigorous strength-training program to add muscle mass, speed, etc. Peterson arrived on campus already prepared to carry the load. The violence of his running style was unmatched in his first season with the Sooners and stayed the same throughout his collegiate career.
There were concerns about his durability, and he did miss some games due to injury. However, he didn't change his running style in school, and he has had no problems in the NFL for that matter either.
Adrian Peterson's freshman campaign at Oklahoma easily ranks among the best of all time.
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