By Michael Kinney
After a couple of weeks of playing in the friendly confines of Norman, Oklahoma took their show on the road for the first time when they made the trek to Lincoln (Neb.) Saturday.
The contest was the 88th matchup between the Sooners and Cornhuskers and the game drew the type of hype they garnered from their days battling for Big 8 supremacy.
However, as the day wore on, it became evident, that the two programs are going in opposite directions, and it showed on the scoreboard as OU rolled to a 49-14 victory at Memorial Stadium.
“Super proud of our team. Great team win,” OU coach Brent Venables said. “Really proud of our guys. Glad we got the win today. Offense scored on seven of the first 10 drives. Defense came out and got punched in the face and responded after that.”
The Cornhuskers started the afternoon by slicing through the Sooner’s defense on their opening possession. It concluded with a Casey Thompson touchdown pass.
OU quarterback Dillon Gabriel responded with a 61-yard touchdown run and a TD pass to Jalil Farooq to give Oklahoma a 14-7 first-quarter advantage.
“It was huge. What sweet feet he had too,” Venables said. “Who would have thought? Anytime the quarterback has the threat to run the football it is hard. It puts stress on the defense.”
OU kept rolling in the second quarter when Marcus Major went untouched into the endzone on a short run to start the quarter. On the ensuing possession Majors caught a touchdown pass from tight end Brayden Willis to extend the lead to 28-7. It was the first TD pass of Willis’s career.
The rout was on and there didn’t seem to be anything the Cornhuskers could do nothing to stop the Sooner’s momentum.
After giving up the opening touchdown, the OU defense got aggressive. They started to bring the heat on Thompson and forced him to get rid of the ball early.
After the opening drive, the Husker’s offensive line was unable to stand up to the pressure from the Sooners and gave up sacks to Jalen Redmond and Jonah Laulu.
“We were like a guy short on a couple of their formations. We weren’t perfect after that, but we were better. There were slight secondary adjustments and then an align issue up front. We actually worked it all week, we just didn’t recognize it,” Venables said of the OU defense. “Players have to recognize it on the field and make the adjustment. I was close to calling a timeout in that first drive and probably should have, but I kept trying to tell them.”
Nebraska started to move the midway through the second quarter and got deep into Oklahoma territory at the 19-yard line. But when they went for it on 4th and 2 to try and keep the drive going, the Sooners were able to snuff it out and turn the ball over on downs with seven minutes to go in the half.
That led to an Eric Gray 15-yard touchdown run on the ensuing possession. The Sooners led 35-7 heading into halftime.
Oklahoma came out to start the third quarter and essentially put the game away. Gray picked up his second touchdown on a 21-yard scamper.
Gray finished the day with 113 yards and two touchdowns. It was the first time in his collegiate career with multiple TDs in a game.
Gabriel completed 16 of 27 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns. His 61 yard TD run was his 10th career rushing touchdown and his longest career rush.
The Sooners held the Huskers to 307 total yards. • The Sooners recorded four sacks and nine tackles for loss and have registered 13 sacks and 32 TFLs through their first three games this season.
I would describe us as tough. Resilient. Edgy. Hungry. Never satisfied,” Venables said. “I think those would be the best. I love the way we are developing. Our leadership and our mindset. These guys are super hungry, and they want you to coach them hard.”
No. 6 Oklahoma (3-0) returns home on Sept. 24 when they host Kansas State (2-1) to kick off their Big 12 schedule. The game is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
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