On a warm Saturday afternoon in T-Town, it was all Oklahoma, as the Sooners rolled to a 66-17 victory over Tulsa.
The Sooners (3-0) have now completed their nonconference slate without a hiccup and will hit the road for their first true road test next week at Cincinnati.
Meanwhile, the Hurricanes (1-2) have dropped back-to-back nonconference games against Washington and Oklahoma and will hit the road to take on Northern Illinois next week.
Here are three thoughts on the game and what it means for the Sooners going forward.
The OU Offense Turns It Loose
While Oklahoma hasn’t seemed to quite get things going in the running game just yet, they sure found a way to light up the scoreboard through the air. Dillon Gabriel finished the day going 28-31 for 421 yards and five scores on the day. As a team, the Sooners completed 30-35 for 476 yards and six scored through the air. Late in the game, Oklahoma did turn to the running game a bit more as they chewed up the clock, finishing with 119 yards on the ground (4.3 yards per carry). While Tulsa isn’t a defensive stalwart by any means, it’s the second time that the Sooners have topped 65 points and 500 yards through three games. While Big 12 play looms, and tougher defenses await, it appears that the Sooners have things rolling on offense.
A Turnover Party in T-Town
Oklahoma’s defense had a couple of drives when it couldn’t get off the field, but outside of that, they played very well defensively. For the third straight week, OU held its opponent well under 50% on third-down conversion rate, holding the Golden Hurricane to 8-19 on the day. However, the Sooners’ ability to create turnovers, particularly interceptions, was the story of the day defensively. In total, Oklahoma collected five interceptions on the day, marking the first time they’ve done so in more than 20 years. Linebacker Danny Stutsman, who received National Defensive Player of the Week last week, took an interception back 30 yards for a score in the first quarter to make it 21-0, Sooners. Anytime that you can win the turnover battle, and convincingly, it will likely show up on the scoreboard.
A Bigger Test Awaits Next Week
There’s really only so much that you can take from one-sided wins over Arkansas State, SMU, and Tulsa, but what we have seen to this point has been extremely impressive. However, there are some concerns that the Sooners are still going to need to address as Big 12 play opens up. What is wrong with the running game, and is it simply a case of not needing to push the issue just yet? There are still instances when the Oklahoma defense has a bust in coverage. Will they get that patched up soon, or will better-equipped teams be able to take advantage? OU simply hasn’t been pushed yet, so it’s going to be difficult to know how improved this team is until we see them play better competition. Fortunately, they won’t have to wait long, as Cincinnati is on deck and has looked good through three weeks. Plus, it will be a true road game at Nippert Stadium, which will represent the first time that a good portion of the Sooners’ roster will play outside the Sooner State.