Big 12 Week 1: In The Movies
By Steve Pipps
When Oklahoma and Louisiana Tech squared off to open the season on Saturday, the end result was as expected. The Sooners rolled, 48-16.
The game reminded me of the movie "Transformers: Dark of the Moon." The Sooners, the obvious favorite, were too big to lose against the Conference USA Bulldogs. The third installment of the Michael Bay’s Transformers series was a guaranteed blockbuster, despite its convoluted, inane plot and lack of any substance. Nobody cared about the movie, but they went anyway to see it. Critics tore it apart, but people still went because they knew what they were going to get: an action movie that was guaranteed to have explosions, sex appeal and lots of Shia LaBeouf running around.
Likewise, beyond the excitement of the Sooners opening their season, no one really cared about Oklahoma facing Louisiana Tech. It lacked any intrigue beyond finally seeing the Sooners back out on the field. Even though the Bulldogs had finished near the bottom of the Conference USA West Division last season, 85,063 fans still came out because it was Oklahoma football.
Bob Stoops – Michael Bay
Trevor Knight – Shia LaBeouf
Samaje Perine – Josh Duhamel
Zach Sanchez – Tyrese Gibson
The Sooners started the season ranked No. 3 in ESPN preseason power rankings and were coming off of a solid bowl win. Oklahoma is among the teams predicted to make a run for the inaugural playoff and is champing at the bit to prove it can compete with any team from any conference.
The big question of the day was if Trevor Knight could keep the momentum going from last season. The fans piled in after tailgating and watching other games earlier in the day. It was the first day of college football, so who wasn’t excited?
Zach Sanchez also came in off a high note from the end of last season and was hoping to continue that trend. Samaje Perine was the newcomer who was looking to make a splash in his freshman debut in an unsure backfield. Third on the depth chart behind Keith Ford and Alex Ross, Perine looked to get his touches in.
Knight ruled the day, going 19-for-34 passing for 253 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also finished with the highest adjusted QBR in the Big 12 with an 80.7 rating. Knight did a great job of not letting the hype and noise get to him. Now, with one game under his belt, he can continue to improve until he rolls into conference play.
The backfield is an army at OU as all three running backs finished with at least one touchdown. It looks like Knight will have some weapons behind him this season. Perine led the way, rushing for 77 yards on 13 carries with one touchdown. Ford was great both on the ground and through the air, finishing with 116 total yards and two rushing touchdowns.
Zach Sanchez also shined at cornerback. He had an interception and a blocked field goal attempt. The Sooners defense had taken a preseason hit after the year-long suspension to linebacker Frank Shannon, but Sanchez looks like he will be a big playmaker throughout the season in contributing to a stout Oklahoma defense.
No one was surprised by the final score, but there was finally validation for Oklahoma as Knight showed that he can lead the offense like a seasoned vet. It didn’t matter that the Sooners were almost 34-point favorites. We have seen smaller schools beat bigger teams. Stoops was able to evaluate his team in game conditions and see where things need to be tweaked and where young players might shine.
It didn’t matter that it was Louisina Tech, just that it was finally Oklahoma football.
For a quick recap of Big 12 storylines from the opening weekend of college football check out my post on the community boards.