LINCOLN, NE – Oklahoma went into Lincoln Saturday and did what good teams do to bad ones – they dominated. The Sooners fell behind 7-0 before rattling off 49 unanswered points to run away from the Huskers, 49-14.
Dillon Gabriel was stellar, going 16 of 27 for 230 yards, two TDs, and no picks. Marvin Mims was equally outstanding, registering four catches for 66 yards. Jalil Farooq had three catches for 58 and a score. Drake Stoops (who was serenaded with “Stoooooooops” chants from the large OU visiting crowd each time he touched the ball) had three catches for 32 yards. Theo Wease had two for 46 and a score, while Brayden Willis had two for 19. Willis also threw for a score on a gadget play.
Eric Gray led all rushers with 113 yards and two scores. Jovante Barnes had 13 for 77 in garbage time, while Gabriel had 55 yards on six carries. Marcus Major added 12 carries for 36 yards and a score.
The Sooners took the ball to start the game, picked up a single first down, and had to punt. Nebraska took over on their own 23 and promptly went on a six play, 77-yard TD drive that was notable for every play but one earning a first down. It was 7-0 Huskers less than four minutes into the game, and judging from each team’s first possession, it looked like it would be a long day for the Sooners. In the past few years, games that started out like this one had often ended up as slogs against inferior teams, and this sure felt like that.
But then a funny thing happened. The Sooners proceeded to score 49 unanswered points, only allowing a second Nebraska touchdown in garbage time.
The onslaught started on the next Sooner possession after the Nebraska score. Major ran for two yards, then Gabriel hit Mims for nine and a first down. Three plays later, facing third and seven from the OU 39, Gabriel took off up the middle on a QB draw, cut right, and went down the sidelines. 61 yards and a cutback at the 10 later, and the game was tied at 7 with 9:30 to play in the first quarter.
After a pair of Husker punts sandwiched around an OU punt, the Sooners took a lead they would not relinquish. A 13-yard completion to Stoops gave OU a first down at their own 47. Gabriel then hit Mims for 11 to the Nebraska 42. Three plays later Gabriel and Stoops connected again for 13 yards on third and six. On the next play, Gabriel found Farooq for 25 yards and the score, and it was 14-7, Sooners with 1:57 to play in the first.
After a Nebraska three and out, Mims returned the Husker punt 34 yards down the right sideline to the Husker 23. It took only five plays to punch it in from there. Mims looked like he scored on a short pass from eight yards out, but it was ruled that his foot didn’t come down in the end zone in bounds and the ball was outside the pylon. It wasn’t a problem, as Major took it in from the one and it was 21-7 OU with 14:48 to play in the first half.
The Huskers went three and out again, and the Sooners scored again. This time, the big plays were a pass interference penalty and a 12-yard pass from Gabriel to Willis that gave OU a first down at the NU 24. Jeff Lebby went into his bag of tricks and pulled out a doozy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a trick play like this that hit as quickly as this one did. Gabriel took the snap and lateraled across the field to Willis, who immediately hit a streaking Major wide open for the score. OU led 28-7 with 11:35 to play in the first half, and you could tell it wasn’t going to get any better for the locals.
The Huskers moved it to the Sooner 19 on their next possession, but the OU defense stuffed them on fourth and two from there and took over on downs. The Sooners moved to the NU 22 on the ensuing possession, but a 39-yard field goal attempt was wide right.
After a Husker punt, OU took over on their own 35, recovering a fumble on the punt return. Major ran for five, four, and two yards, before Gabriel found Mims for 38 yards and a first down at the Husker 16. Gray took it up the middle and into the end zoner on the next play, and it was 35-7 with 1:44 to play in the first half. It was all over but the shouting.
Jaren Kanak forced and recovered a Nebraska fumble on the Husker 46 on the first offensive play of the second half, while this reporter was still in line for a halftime Runza. Six plays later, Gray took it in from 21 yards out, and it was 42-7 less than two minutes into the second half. The Sooner starters played only one more series before giving way to the backups and running mostly dives the rest of the game.
OU would add its final score on Gabriel’s final pass of the game, a15 yard dart to Wease that made it 49-7. The Huskers added a consolation TD with 3:17 to go to forge the final score of 49-14.
The Sooners return to action Saturday night at 7 as Kansas State comes to town. The Wildcats are coming off of a home loss to Tulane, but that certainly doesn’t mean we can’t get Snydered. I am quite confident the staff will not let the team forget what kind of trouble EMAW has given us recently. See you in Norman Saturday night.