NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma Sooners junior running back Rodney Anderson will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. It is a huge blow to the fifth-ranked Sooners' College Football Playoff chances.
The team announced the injury Sunday.
"We're heartbroken for him," Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said in a statement. "He's overcome so much in his career, and if anybody can do it again, it's Rodney. He's played a lot of great football and has a lot more ahead of him. He's just a tremendous person and player, and we'll miss him on the field. But we know he'll be with us every step of the way as a team captain and that other players will step up in his place."
Anderson suffered the injury on the final play of the first quarter Saturday against UCLA. After being tackled by a pair of Bruins, Anderson came up clutching his right knee.
This is Anderson's third season-ending injury at Oklahoma. He was lost for the year in 2015 after going down with a broken leg two games into the season. The following spring, he suffered a fractured vertebra in his neck and was out for the season again.
Anderson came back to win the starting job midway through the season. Over his past seven games, he led the FBS in yards from scrimmage, culminating with 201 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the CFP loss to Georgia in the Rose Bowl.
Anderson was a preseason All-Big 12 section. He rushed for 100 yards and two touchdowns on only five carries in the opener two weeks ago against Florida Atlantic.
"It's unfortunate," said Kyler Murray, who, with Anderson out Saturday, became the first quarterback in four years to lead the Sooners in rushing. "We've just got to keep going."
In place of Anderson, the Sooners will turn to sophomore Trey Sermon to shoulder the rushing load. As a true freshman, Sermon ran for 744 yards and five touchdowns. He also caught a key touchdown from Baker Mayfield in the second half of Oklahoma's win at Ohio State. Sermon has 82 yards and a touchdown through two games this season.
"I don't look at it as replacing Rodney," Riley told reporters Monday. "You put some different guys in there, and you go play. And those guys have played a bunch of ball. Certainly when you lose a great player, everybody has to step their game up a little bit, no question. You are going to have to have different guys step up and make those plays. But I know our guys will. I think our whole offense feels that. We hate it for Rodney, but our expectations aren't any different."
Murray echoed his coach.
"You can't replace a guy like Rodney, obviously. I don't think anyone in the country has a guy like Rodney," Murray said Monday. "For us to try to replace him is going to be tough. But I don't think we'll have to. We've got a lot of guys in the offensive room that can make plays. We'll see guys step up. Nobody thought Rodney was Rodney until they saw what he did last year.
"I think as the season goes on, everybody has to get better. I've got to be better. The line's got to get better. The running backs have got to be better. The receivers have got to be better. I think throughout practice we will. We'll get stronger as the year goes on. I think we've got running backs that will step up."