NORMAN – What a difference a week makes. We won’t pretend that a significant decrease in the quality of the opponent didn’t have a lot to do with it, but still, the Sooners looked very much a sharper team in last night’s 59-17 drubbing of Louisiana-Monroe in the newly-renovated Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Baker Mayfield was 14-20 for 244 yards and 2 TDs in only a half of action. Joe Mixon rushed for 117 yards on 14 carries, while Samaje Perine added 58 yards on 10 carries. Neither of them played in the second half, either.
It was a departure from Bob Stoops’ normal operations to sit virtually every starter the entire second half, but with a 42-0 lead and Ohio State coming to town next Saturday, it was a wise move. Additionally, it gave some young players a chance to get some significant playing time. Austin Kendall looked OK at QB, while Caleb Kelly made some nice plays at linebacker in the second half.
The starters, meanwhile, weren't really challenged by a ULM team coming off of a two-win season. It became clear early on that Lincoln Riley learned from last week, as the Sooners stuck with the ground game that they went away from against Houston when they were having success. Mixon had a 44-yard run, and that was far from the only big play.
Mark Andrews hauled in a 39-yard pass from Mayfield to open the scoring, while Jarvis Baxter scored his first Sooner TD on a 40-yard double reverse that very nearly became a disaster when her bobbled the reverse pitch. Walk-on Nick Basquine, about whom the players and coaches have raved throughout fall camp, had a 62-yard TD reception on a beautiful floating pass from Mayfield.
The stadium itself was the real star, though. The new enclosed south end zone made it an unfamiliar setting, though, as it seemed like we were in another stadium when we looked that way. The crowd didn’t get very loud, for obvious reasons, and they left in droves at halftime. However, we certainly get the feeling that the new stands will hold the noise in and make the old place a lot louder than it’s been previously when the Buckeyes come to town next weekend.
Ohio State, meanwhile, throttled Tulsa in a monsoon-delayed contest in Columbus. The Sooners have their first chance to take a step toward redeeming their opening day loss in this one. Certainly, a win over a top-five team would help in that tall task. See you in Norman Saturday night. Be loud, and BEAT THE BUCKEYES!!