Oklahoma’s defense was every bit as good as promised. That’s a mild surprise, considering the lofty expectations of the No. 1 Sooners.
“Coaches challenged us to see how good we can be this year,” safety Matt McCoy said. “This was a great way to start.”
Oklahoma’s defense limited North Texas to only 154 yards of offense and Jason White threw three touchdown passes as the Sooners rolled to a season-opening 37-3 victory Saturday night at Norman, Okla.
The Sooners limited North Texas to 50 yards through three quarters before the Mean Green’s only scoring drive, which began against the second-stringers. Midway through the second quarter, North Texas had more penalty yards (29) than offensive yards (18) and didn’t cross midfield until just before halftime.
The two-time defending Sun Belt champions’ frustration showed early after quarterback Scott Hall narrowly avoided a sack in the end zone by lofting the ball to unsuspecting right guard Nick Zuniga. The lineman spiked the ball in disgust as all four officials threw flags at the penalty.
“They are pretty quick and they fly to the ball real well,” North Texas tailback Patrick Cobbs said. “It seems like they were everywhere.”
White, a senior making only his fifth career start because of knee injuries the past two seasons, started slowly before getting into a rhythm.
He went 23 of 35 for 248 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown pass to receiver Brandon Jones early in the second quarter that left a defender sprawled on the ground and gave Oklahoma a 17-0 lead.
“It’s a good game to learn off of,” White said. “It’s a relief for the whole team.”
Jones finished with 10 receptions for 121 yards and Jejuan Rankins caught two touchdown passes, including one from backup quarterback Paul Thompson.
North Texas wasn’t totally overwhelmed, however, limiting the Sooners to only 108 rushing yards as 5-foot-10, 315-pound defensive tackle Brandon Kennedy clogged up things along the line.
It was a poor debut for Oklahoma, which was looking for a replacement for 1,800-yard runner Quentin Griffin.
Kejuan Jones led Oklahoma with 51 yards in 15 carries.
“That was poor -- not at all what we’re capable of,” Coach Bob Stoops said. “They whipped us up front sometimes running the ball. They had too much penetration and we didn’t get as many yards as we’re used to getting.”
Despite a driving rain throughout much of the first half, the game was played before a school-record 83,073 fans -- the most to ever watch a sporting event in state history.
No. 7 Kansas State 41, Troy State 5 -- Ell Roberson ran for three touchdowns and threw for 234 yards and another score at Manhattan, Kan., as the Wildcats (2-0) overcame the loss of standout running back Darren Sproles to an apparent leg injury late in the first half.
Sproles left after being tackled hard at the end of a five-yard gain. Kansas State does not release information on injuries, but Sproles appeared to be favoring his left leg as he was helped to the locker room.
“He’s a tough little tank,” defensive end Andrew Shull said. “I’m not worried about him at all. He’ll be back, no problem.”
Sproles left with 49 yards in 12 carries, snapping his school-record string of 100-yard games at 10. Kansas State’s last game without a 100-yard rusher was a 27-20 victory over USC on Sept. 21, 2002.
Kansas State’s defense, which gave up 440 yards in its opening 42-28 victory over California, held the Trojans to 138 yards -- only 39 on the ground.
Texas A&M; 26, Arkansas State 11 -- Courtney Lewis rushed for two touchdowns at College Station, Texas, to help Dennis Franchione win his first game as Aggie coach.
Northwestern 28, Kansas 20 -- Jason Wright rushed for 196 yards and four scores as the Wildcats won a sloppy opener played in heavy rain at Lawrence, Kan.
Iowa State 17, Northern Iowa 10 -- Austin Flynn passed for a touchdown and ran for another in his debut as the Cyclones struggled to defeat the Division I-AA Panthers at Ames, Iowa.
Texas Tech 58, Southern Methodist 10 -- B.J. Symons threw for three touchdowns and 297 yards in his first start as the Red Raiders cruised to victory at Lubbock, Texas.
Alabama Birmingham 24, Baylor 19 -- Darrell Hackney had a 50-yard touchdown pass to Nick Coon with 40 seconds left at Waco, Texas, as the Blazers spoiled the debut of Bear Coach Guy Morriss.