If there are questions about just how good Oklahoma can be this season, the 14th-ranked Sooners hope to find some answers Saturday when they host Louisiana-Monroe while unveiling the renovated and expanded Gaylord Family-Memorial Stadium in Norman.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops spent Labor Day at his weekly news conference discussing the Sooners' 33-23 loss to Houston on Saturday.
The Sooners had their way early with Houston (which moved up to No. 5 in the AP poll), but the game turned in the third quarter when an attempted field goal was returned from the backline of the end zone 100 yards for a Cougars' touchdown.
Then Oklahoma turned the ball over on consecutive possessions and failed to stop Houston's hurry-up attack. By the time the fourth quarter began, the Sooners trailed by 16 points and had to all but abandon their vaunted running game.
Stoops said his team was disappointed at how it played.
"They were disappointed and they are still angry and know they've got to be better," Stoops said. "I do believe they'll respond. But we're not looking down the road. We've got to get better today and tomorrow and be a better football team Saturday, and that's all we're trying to do is make that improvement."
The Sooners' dual-headed rushing attack of Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine combined for 71 yards on 12 carries, with 32 coming by Mixon on one second quarter tote. The pair totaled two yards on four carries after halftime.
"All the sudden you're in a hole and you lose your patience," Stoops said. "I'm not saying it's right or wrong, but it gets you out of your rhythm."
Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield registered his seventh 300-yard passing game as a Sooner (323 yards, two touchdowns).
The Sooners are 74-15-4 in home openers (16-1 under Stoops) at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium since it opened in 1923. Oklahoma has won 10 straight home openers, with the last loss in 2005 to TCU. The Sooners are 2-0 under Stoops in games following a season-opening loss.
ULM, a member of the Sun Belt Conference, heads to Norman on the heels of a 38-21 home victory over Southern on Saturday.
Quarterback Garrett Smith passed for 208 passing yards and two touchcdowns, and ran for 150 rushing yards and another score while running back Ben Luckett added 110 rushing yards and a TD.
The Warhawks, who won only two games in 2015, registered a 533-376 total yardage advantage and handed new coach Matt Viator a victory in his first game at the ULM helm.
"Offensively, we made some mistakes, and defensively, once we settled in and tackled, we played better as the game went on," Viator said. "It's a good first game and a good start. I think this team is only going to get better. We just have to keep working at it and clean up some things. All in all, really pleased with the effort of our players. I was glad to get the win."
Six ULM players carried the ball and seven caught passes against Southern. The Warhawks completed 11 of their 17 pass attempts on third down as well as their only attempt on fourth down.
ULM scored on four of the five times it was in the red zone, with the only miscue coming in the opening second half possession when Smith was intercepted at the goal line.
The Warhawks will have to play a lot better -- and Oklahoma would really have to stumble -- for ULM to even throw a scare into the Sooners. Oklahoma is 4-0 all-time against Sun Belt teams, including a 34-0 season-opening win over ULM in 2013.
The Sooners are 96-8 (.923) at home under Stoops with all those games sellouts. It is the best home winning percentage among Power Five schools during the time period (Ohio State is next at .876). OU has outscored its opponents by an average of 42-16 in those games.