NORMAN — Oklahoma linebacker Curtis Lofton was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press on Wednesday. But he likely won the award with his performance Oct. 13, the last time the Sooners played Missouri.
It was the kind of night linebackers only dream of: 18 tackles and a fumble return for a touchdown.
Now, Lofton is two days away from facing the Tigers again, but with even bigger stakes — the Big 12 Championship. And if there's a big play made by the OU defense Saturday night in the Alamodome, expect Lofton to be involved.
"He's been the most productive linebacker we've ever had,” OU coach Bob Stoops said.
That's an easy statement to make when you look at the list of game-changing plays Lofton has been in on.
•Lofton caused the fumble by Texas' Jamaal Charles on his way into the end zone.
•He scooped up the fumble by Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel and scored.
•He tipped the pass that was intercepted by D.J. Wolfe in the end zone at Iowa State.
•He knocked the ball out of the grasp of OSU's Zac Robinson to cap the Sooners' goal-line stand last Saturday.
•Even though its value was lost in the defeat, Lofton had an interception inside the OU 10-yard line at Texas Tech.
Count on Missouri keeping a close eye on Lofton's location Saturday night.
"He's a great linebacker,” Tiger tight end Martin Rucker said. "He's a big guy in the middle of that field, roaming all over the place.