NORMAN — Two things were entirely predictable on Saturday night at Owen Field.
One, the Oklahoma Sooners would show significant improvement from their opening week performance against Tulane.
Two, not much can really be taken from that fact.
The Sooners, as expected, pounded Western Carolina into oblivion, 76-0, keyed by a dominant first half. At halftime, OU had 400 total yards to WCU’s 68, including 243 passing yards and five touchdown throws from quarterback Spencer Rattler.
The Catamounts, visiting the No. 4-ranked Sooners from the lower regions of the Football Championship Subdivision, managed just three first downs in the first half. OU backups took the reins for most of the second half.
OU finished with 624 total yards, while Western Carolina had just 182.
On a night when the university commemorated the 20th anniversary of 9/11 with numerous tributes, a sellout crowd of 83,538 — perhaps still a little angsty about last week’s five-point survival of the underdog Green Wave — showed up in full throat.
Was last week an abberation? Was this week meaningless? Does this team have what it takes to chase a national championship?
The second week of September is still far too soon to answer any of that.
If anything was revealed on Saturday, it was that Oklahoma’s offensive line played with better efficiency, the defensive rotation appeared a little slimmer as the coaching staff continues to find its best lineups, and the freshman class does indeed appear ready to contribute to this team’s end result.
That includes a mostly sharp third-quarter performance from true freshman quarterback Caleb Williams, who started the second half and put together a quick scoring drive that included his 59-yard run to set up Jaden Knowles’ 1-yard touchdown run. Knowles later scored on a 29-yard run, and Todd Hudson added a fourth-quarter score.
Oh, Sooner Nation also learned that kicker Gabe Brkic isn’t anywhere close to finished putting on his show in 2021. In the first quarter against WCU, Brkic buried a 56-yard field goal, right down the middle. It was his fourth 50-yarder in the first two games.
Rattler had another good game statistically, but he just looked so much more comfortable and confident. Some of that is playing a middling FCS program (63 scholarships, vs. 85 in FBS). Protection was better, yes, but Rattler was just sharper all around.
Kennedy Brooks and Eric Gray had a solid night carrying the football but didn’t play after halftime. They combined for 122 yards on 15 carries, with Brooks reaching the end zone.
Jadon Haselwood, now all the way back from a 2020 knee injury, scored two touchdowns on four catches. Freshman Mario Williams, Mike Woods and Gray also caught a TD pass from Rattler.
Up next, a significant step up: the Nebraska Cornhuskers, next Saturday in Norman. It’s a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the 1971 Game of the Century, and kickoff is 11 a.m. on Fox.
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