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Saccharine Samaje: Perine Sets Record In OU’s Sugar Bowl Win

University of Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine rushes past Auburn University defensive back Stephen Roberts in the second half of the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, Monday, Jan. 2, 2017.
Gerald Herbert
University of Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine rushes past Auburn University defensive back Stephen Roberts in the second half of the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.

The University of Oklahoma's football team has a new all-time leading rusher after running back Samaje Perine broke Billy Sims' 37-year-old record Monday night during the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

Perine came into the game needing just 83 yards to surpass the mark Sims set during the 1979 season. He broke the record with about five minutes left in the Sooners' 35-19 victory over Auburn University.

"When you look at the lineage of running backs that we've had through the decades, to be the all-time leading rusher is really something special, so the entire team took a lot of pride in that,” OU head coach Bob Stoops said during a post-game press conference.

Perine became the third OU running back to rush for 1,000 yards in three different seasons. He came into the game ranked 5th on OU’s all-time career rushing list, behind Sims, Joe Washington, Adrian Peterson, and Steve Owens. Perine finished with 86 yards to cap his third year at OU with 4,122 yards – four better than Sims.

"It really hasn't hit me yet. And I don't know exactly when it's going to hit me,” Perine said after the game. “But I'm just excited that we got the win, and we got it in the fashion that we did. And I'm just ready to celebrate with my team."

Quarterback Baker Mayfield finished with 296 yards and two touchdowns, but said he was keeping an eye on that rushing record throughout the game. Mayfield knew going into the final drive Perine needed just a handful of yards to surpass the mark.

"I told the offensive line, and so they kind of geared up, and I said we’ve still got to finish it out the right way, but this is just some extra motivation for you,” Mayfied said. “That record means a lot, and so the whole drive down the field I was kind of doing the math in my head, and he finally made that last long run and it was just enough."

Perine’s teammate Joe Mixon actually had a statistically better night. He gained 180 yards from scrimmage, with 91 rushing yards on 19 attempts and 89 receiving yards on five catches. He also ran for two touchdowns.

Mixon heard repeated boos from Auburn fans who also shouted derisive comments regarding a recently publicized video of Mixon punching a woman in the face in 2014. Mixon, who has apologized for the assault, also drew cheers from crimson-clad Oklahoma fans with his play.

It's the Sooners' second Sugar Bowl triumph in three years. The team beat the University of Alabama to conclude the 2013 season. OU closed its season with a 10-game winning streak to finish with an 11-and-2 record.

The Sooners will open the 2017 season September 2 in Norman when the team hosts the University of Texas - El Paso.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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