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December 31, 2006
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Adrian Peterson's first game in more than two months may be his last in an Oklahoma uniform.
After missing Oklahoma's last seven games with a broken collarbone, the preseason Heisman Trophy candidate will return to the backfield when the seventh-ranked Sooners (11-2) face No. 9 Boise State (12-0) in the Fiesta Bowl on Monday at Glendale, Ariz. (8:45 p.m., Fox).
"I love the game," Peterson said. "I love all the guys I play with. This is the goal I have. I want to be out there playing and help my team come out with a win."
Peterson rushed for 935 yards and 10 touchdowns before injuries forced him to miss the second half of the season. The preseason Heisman Trophy candidate has rushed for 3,968 yards and 39 touchdowns in his three-year career.
He had rushed for at least 109 yards in every game this season before getting hurt. Peterson hasn't shown any signs of the injury in practices leading up to the Fiesta Bowl.
"He's fine," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "He's like he always has been when you see him running around full speed with fresh legs."
Peterson would rank among the Heisman Trophy favorites next year if he returns to school, though conventional wisdom indicates he will enter the NFL Draft after this game.
Frank Coyle of draftinsiders.com rates Peterson as the No. 4 overall prospect if the junior tailback decides to go pro. Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn, Wisconsin offensive tackle Joe Thomas and Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson are the only players above him.
Peterson hasn't given an indication of which way he's leaning.
"After the game, I'll have more time to relax and think about what I want to do," Peterson said.
Peterson's return from injury gives the Fiesta Bowl two of the nation's best running backs.
Ian Johnson led Boise State to an undefeated regular season while running for 1,613 yards and an NCAA-leading 24 touchdowns. Johnson has rushed for at least 136 yards in each of the last five games he's played.
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