Sooners Do Everything They Wish to Bruins : Oklahoma Runs for 470 Yards in a 38-3 Rout
After the way the Oklahoma Sooners handled UCLA, it appears the only thing that can stop this team is a ticket scandal.
How the Bruins played Saturday at Owen Field before a crowd of 75,004 was a crime.
Then again, maybe the Sooners should be declared illegal.
The nation’s reigning national champions and the country’s No. 1 team dispatched UCLA, supposedly the No. 4 team, 38-3, with such an alarming display of power football that the rest of the Sooner season should probably be canceled so they can report immediately to the Orange Bowl to clobber somebody else.
Why waste time? Just look what they did to UCLA.
Using a hefty size advantage, the Sooners ran wild and free, from here to about Tulsa, gaining 470 yards rushing against a UCLA defense that had allowed only 855 all last season.
“They dominated us in every category,” UCLA Coach Terry Donahue said. “We were badly embarrassed by a much superior football team in every way.”
That would include defense, which in the devastation department trailed only the Sooner offense.
Oklahoma’s defenders intercepted five of Matt Stevens’ passes, limited the Bruins to 34 yards rushing, allowed UCLA to cross midfield only twice and delivered UCLA’s worst opening-game defeat in 56 years.
Afterward, the Sooners were left to wonder what the big deal was about UCLA, anyway.
Said quarterback Jamelle Holieway: “It was a lot easier than I thought it would be.”
The best Oklahoma talker, however, remains All-American linebacker Brian Bosworth, who may also be the best Oklahoma player.
“Last year, we opened the season with a semi-dormat (Minnesota),” Bosworth said. “This year, we opened with a legitimate doormat.”
It is possible that Bosworth was talking about Stevens, who became the Sooners’ personal door-Matt for the afternoon.
Stevens, the fifth-year senior quarterback, had the kind of game he promised to forget quickly.
“I am going to put this one behind,” said Stevens, which is the same place he put many of his passes to the UCLA receivers .
Stevens finished with 14 completions in 28 attempts for 112 yards, but his five interceptions tied a UCLA record for one game. Two of the interceptions led to Sooner scores.
When Stevens threw his fifth interception early in the fourth quarter, he grabbed his helmet with both hands, tore off his chinstrap and sat alone on the Bruin bench.
By then, the score was 31-3, and it really didn’t matter much anymore to anyone except Stevens.
“I played as horrible as anyone can play,” Stevens said. “I just threw the ball bad. I didn’t get my feet under me. I can throw the ball twice as hard as I did. I don’t know why I didn’t.”
Said UCLA quarterback coach Homer Smith: “I blame myself. We just didn’t prepare him properly for the God-awful pressure he had to face.”
Sooner defensive back Sonny Brown said he thought Oklahoma’s coverages contributed to Stevens’ problems.
“He (Stevens) might have looked better on film,” Brown said. “But the way we disguised our coverages, I could tell the way he looked that it kind of confused him.”
The Bruins survived the first two interceptions and were trailing, just 10-3, late in the second quarter, but after the third one, they were well on their way toward getting clobbered.
Sooner linebacker Paul Migliazzo picked off a pass Stevens intended for Paco Craig at the UCLA 37 and returned it four yards. Five plays later from the one, Holieway pitched to halfback Patrick Collins, and he ran it into the end zone for a 17-3 lead.
Donahue still felt pretty good about the Bruins’ chances for coming back, if only the offense could stay on the field long enough to keep the defense from wilting completely.
“We were still in the game then,” he said. “I felt that if we could just get something going on offense, we’d be all right.”
The Bruins did little in the first half to warrant such optimism. They had only three first downs, had four passes intercepted, were outrushed, 219-25, and in time of possession, spent half as much time on the field as the Sooners.
If it weren’t for Darryl Henley’s 72-yard return of an interception that set up a 28-yard field goal by David Franey, the Bruins would have had nothing to show for their first half’s work.
Henley picked off a pass by Holieway at the UCLA nine-yard-line and ran it back to the Sooners’ 19 before fullback Lydell Carr ran him down from behind. Carr managed to surprise himself on the play.
“I had gotten knocked down, and when I got up, I thought there was no use to chase him (Henley),” Carr said. “But then I said, ‘What the heck?’ ”
Yeah. What the heck? And what the heck was wrong with the UCLA running game? Eric Ball did not play because of a bruised knee, but a healthy Gaston Green managed only 40 yards on 13 carries.
“We didn’t get to stick to our game plan because we fell behind and had to pass,” Green said. “They were doing such a good job against the run, we had to. All we were doing all day was one, two, three, punt. Then the interceptions hurt us a lot. We had so many. That just broke our backs.”
The Sooners did their part, too, with their overpowering wishbone offense. The smaller UCLA defense was continually moved out of the way by a succession of very large players.
“They just wore us down,” UCLA strong safety Craig Rutledge said. “I don’t know if they are 35 points better than us, but they sure were today.”
From tackle to tackle, the Sooner offensive line weighs 1,395 pounds and it hit the UCLA defense a ton.
Said the 225-pound Carr: “Their linemen were about the size of Leon (Perry, also 225 pounds) and me. We thought our linemen could smash them and they did.”
At the same time, the Bruins thought they could combat the Sooner offensive line with speed and aggressiveness, since the heaviest UCLA lineman is right tackle Jim Wahler at only 248 pounds. That strategy didn’t work. Neither did UCLA’s hopes for converting Oklahoma turnovers. The Sooners fumbled only twice and recovered both of them.
“What we hoped would happen did happen,” said Oklahoma Coach Barry Switzer. “Our offensive line dominated the game. We’re just too big and too physical on our offensive line for their defensive line. We dominated the game from the first snap.”
In the third quarter, the domination was complete. The Sooners scored twice to move out to a 31-3 lead at the end of the quarter. Second-string fullback Perry ended a 72-yard, four-play drive--which was helped along by a 15-yard dead-ball foul when Holieway was roughed up on the sidelines--with a 24-yard scoring run.
The Bruins had three plays and punted. Collins returned Harold Bartgate’s 36-yard punt 20 yards to the UCLA 35-yard line.
Holieway had already sat down for the rest of the game, but in five plays, the Sooners were in the end zone again. Backup quarterback Eric Mitchel kept the ball on an option to the right and ran the final 10 yards for a touchdown and a 31-3 Sooner lead.
On that play, linebacker Carnell Lake grabbed Mitchel by the jersey and inadvertently threw him forward toward the goal.
“The linebacker grabbed him,” Henley said. “I thought he had slipped down, then he spun him around in the opposite way from where I was going.”
Mitchel, however, knew the proper direction and soon went that way again. He scored the final touchdown on a one-yard keeper midway through the fourth quarter. That 52-yard drive began after Stevens threw his fifth interception, the pass stolen this time by David Vickers.
In the end, the Bruins got themselves into a spitting contest with the Sooners, which might not have been such a good idea. Holieway said UCLA defensive tackle Frank Batchkoff spit in his face.
“They were spitting in our face, but that’s not to their advantage, because that gets us riled up,” Carr said.
It’s probably best not to get those Sooners riled up. They’re tough enough without any help.
The Bruins’ previous worst opener was when they lost, 52-0, to USC in 1930 . . . Matt Stevens’ five interceptions tied Steve Bukich for the most in one game by a UCLA quarterback. Bukich threw five in 1974 against Washington . . . UCLA flanker Karl Dorrell and nose guard Jim Mastera left the game with injuries . . . Sooner quarterbacks attempted 7 passes and completed 1 for 9 yards. Oklahoma Coach Barry Switzer was asked whether the Sooners will ever have to throw another pass this season. “Yes, when we play a big, strong defensive team,” Switzer said . . . Terry Donahue said he never considered removing Stevens from the game until it was way out of hand. “We kept thinking we’d get untracked and we never did.”