On Sunday night in Norman, Oklahoma No. 4 Sooners protected their home field in the season opener against the Houston Cougars. Like in 2016, when the two schools met, there were some game-changing moments.
Here are the best and worst moments of the Oklahoma versus Houston season opener:
Player of the game
In Jalen Hurts' first game as the starting quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners, he looked similar to their last Heisman quarterback winner, Kyler Murray, who was in attendance. Hurts combined for 302 total yards by halftime, with three touchdowns. On a quick three-play drive, Hurts got Oklahoma on the board, first connecting with Jeremiah Hall for a 14-yard touchdown pass. On the first drive in the second half, Hurts connected with Charleston Rambo for a 56-yard touchdown pass Hurts averaged 11.0 yards per carry and finished the game with a 98.7 quarterback rating.
Hurts continued his dominance, ending the game with 508 total yards, 20-23, 332 passing yards, 16 rushes, 176 yards and three touchdowns.
Biggest TD throw of the game
Ahead 14-0 in the first quarter, Jalen Hurts did not let his foot off the gas, connecting with CeeDee Lamb on a perfect 45-yard throw.
Hurts stepped up inside the pocket as Lamb broke open, then Hurts threw an absolutely perfect pass to Lamb right in stride to give the Sooners a commanding 21-0 lead. Hurts accounted for the first three touchdowns, two passing and one rushing.
Coming into the game, both defenses had their struggles last season. Both programs hired new defensive coordinators. For Houston, their defense struggled early and often in the new 4-2-5 system.
Oklahoma ended the game with 686 total yards. The Cougars' defense last season gave up an average of 49 points in losses with (yards).
Houston won the coin toss and elected to receive. With the Cougars having so much experience returning on offense and Dana Holgorsen leading the way, it was no surprise Houston received.
The Cougars started their opening drive on their 17-yard line. D'Eriq King's first attempted pass was incomplete and the second was complete for a 3-yard gain to Marquez Stevenson. On the third down, King was sacked for a 3-yard loss. Houston missed its only opportunity to take a lead.
Kenneth Murray definitely set the tone Sunday night on defense for the Sooners. The junior linebacker ran and completely smashed Stevenson coming across the middle. It sounded like all 84,534 fans screamed “ooohhh.”
Murray leads all Sooners in tackles with 13 total tackles, seven solo.
Last season, the Oklahoma Sooners' offense averaged 59.1 points per game and 570.3 yards per game. On Sunday, the offense picked up right where it left off last year.
By halftime, the Sooners racked up 370 total yards and 20 first downs. Oklahoma's running game completely dominated from the start. In the end, the Sooners finished with 686 total yards, 354 rushing yards and 332 passing yards. Coach Holgorsen, after the game, talked about how the team's system has been in place for years now and how he expects the players to be successful offensively all season. Lincoln Riley has been calling plays going on five years now. Riley, like Holgorsen, comes from the Mike Leach Texas Tech coaching tree.
Highlight of the game
Hurts lined in the shotgun formation, caught the snap, took one step back and then fired a spiral to Charleston Rambo on the quick slant. Rambo turned upfield, showcasing his blazing speed and outrunning the angle on four Cougars defenders, then flipped into the end zone.
Rambo, a sophomore from Cedar Hill, led all Sooners receivers with three catches, for 105 yards, averaging 35.0 yards for catch.