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Three Quick Takeaways From Oklahoma's Victory Over SMU

The Sooners outlasted the SMU Mustangs to move to 2-0 in Norman.

NORMAN — Oklahoma knew SMU was going to pose a much bigger test than Arkansas State.

The No. 18-ranked Sooners got all they wanted from the visiting Mustangs, as OU outlasted the Dallas outfit to win 28-11 at Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on Saturday night.

A late 21-yard touchdown catch by Jalil Farooq sealed the win for Brent Venables’ team, but there will be plenty for the Sooners to clean up before next week’s trip to Tulsa.

Not Always Pretty, But Effective

Oklahoma’s defense wasn’t dominant on Saturday.

Far from it.

But the Sooners didn’t need to suffocate SMU to keep the high-powered Mustang offense in check.

SMU actually finished the first half with more yardage than Oklahoma, taking a 232-168 advantage into the locker room, but the Sooners were up 14-3 on the scoreboard thanks to strong third down defense.

OU held SMU to 3-of-10 on the crucial down in the first half, giving the offense time to work through some kinks.

In the third quarter, safety Key Lawrence erased a 23-yard rush by SMU running back Jaylan Knighton by punching the football out. Linebacker Danny Stutsman was on hand to recover the fumble, notching OU’s second takeaway of the year.

The stops proved necessary, as Oklahoma’s offense struggled to find the end zone, allowing the Mustangs to hang around all evening.

True freshman safety Peyton Bowen helped OU ice the game, breaking on the football to deflect SMU quarterback Preston Stone’s fourth down pass with 7:31 left in the game.

Running back Marcus Major cashed in three plays later, sealing the Sooner victory.

SMU finished 4-of-17 on third downs, and Justin Harrington doubled OU’s turnover total with an interception on the Mustangs’ final offensive play.

Season’s First Hot Hand

OU offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby said the offense would be looking for a hot hand to feed in the running game going forward.

Despite all the excitement surrounding Jovantae Barnes and Gavin Sawchuk entering the season, it was walk-on Tawee Walker who ended up as Lebby’s first mouth to feed.

The running game looked clunky with Marcus Major in the game, and quarterback Dillon Gabriel ended the contest with the second most carries behind Walker.

Though he lacked the speed to pull away in the open field, Walker was patient, following the blocking in front of him and SMU’s first defender struggled to bring him down.

Walker finished with 21 carries for 117 yards, easily the finest performance of his career.

Major got into the end zone with a 27-yard run in the fourth quarter, salvaging his night.

Offense Sputters

Last week, Oklahoma’s offense looked like a well-oiled machine.

Against SMU, the Sooners needed some WD-40.

Walker appeared to be the only running back who found any kind of rhythm, and Gabriel had evade more pressure than he should have against SMU’s defensive front.

OU again struggled on third down, especially in short yardage situations, as the Sooners had to go for it on three fourth downs.

The vertical passing game never really got off the ground, either.

Andrel Anthony’s 29-yard touchdown catch was Oklahoma’s only connection of 20 yards or more through the air until Farooq danced around the SMU secondary for his fourth quarter score.

Lebby’s offense only converted 7-of-15 third downs on the night.