OU Opens Season with 57-2 Win
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- Maybe Mother Nature was trying to impose a mercy rule. The weather was the only thing that could slow down No. 4 Oklahoma against Chattanooga.
Sam Bradford threw for 183 yards and two touchdowns, Chris Brown ran for three scores and only an hourlong rainstorm could slow down the Sooners in a 57-2 victory against Chattanooga on Saturday night.
The Sooners converted their first seven possessions into touchdowns and led 50-0 before a thunderstorm caused a lightning delay that extended halftime by 1 hour and 12 minutes.
Instead of stopping the game, both teams went through a glorified scrimmage in the second half -- except one team was trying not to score.
"That's always a difficult situation in the second half when you're up 50-0 at halftime. You want your [backups] to move it but you don't want to be a bad guy and be throwing it all over the place and taking advantage of what's there," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "You know, you do the best that you can."
Oklahoma seemed to be pulling back on the reins after reaching former coach Barry Switzer's proverbial "half a hundred," putting fullback Matt Clapp at tailback for the next series. Dominique Franks also called for a fair catch on what seemed to be a returnable punt.
But after halftime, Oklahoma's starters were back on the field -- even if their production level fell off sharply. They managed only two first downs on their first three drives before backups started filtering in.
Stoops said he decided the starters still needed to be sharp next week, no matter what the score was at the time.
"Those are all tough decisions. That's just the way it goes," Stoops said.
Bradford completed 17 of 22 passes, including a 3-yard score to Quentin Chaney and a 7-yard TD to Manuel Johnson on fade patterns. DeMarco Murray had a pair of 1-yard scoring runs, one of them following a 49-yard scamper, and finished with 124 yards on 15 carries.
Brown also had touchdown runs of 10 and 9 yards.
"It's the first time out this year, trying to kind of avenge a loss at the Fiesta Bowl last year, so there was a lot of preparation put in to come out and play well," said Bradford, referring to a 48-28 loss to West Virginia this January.
The Mocs scored their only points after Oklahoma's first drive of the second half, when punter Mike Knall tracked down a bad snap in the end zone and knocked it out of bounds for a safety.
Chattanooga coach Rodney Allison talked earlier this week about hoping to make it a game into the second half, like the Mocs did last year at Arkansas, and trying to avoid injuries. Neither one worked.
Tailback Erroll Wynn, who took the place of injured starter Bryan Fitzgerald, broke his wrist in the second quarter and starting quarterback Jare Gault came out with a stinger in the third quarter. Allison hopes both will be able to play next week.
Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione said there was never any talk of calling off the game at halftime, and both coaches favored going on with it.
"We have got a bunch of fighters ... ," Allison said. "A nice trait of ours is that our players have always played until the end of the game. They came back and played hard the whole game. From that standpoint, I was pleased."
All fans were asked to leave the seating area of Owen Field during halftime, although they were told that re-entering would not be allowed if they left the stadium.
A dozen or so remained in the student section, and others huddled under overhangs, in tunnels and on the concourse.
The rest left. They had seen enough already anyway.
Chattanooga, Oklahoma's first Championship Subdivision opponent since Stoops' debut in 1999, had only one first down, one completed pass and negative yardage on its first seven possessions.
The Mocs ended up with 36 yards, three completed passes and only one more first down.
"It was a great win for us but at the same time we can't beat our chests because it was just our first game," Franks said. "We've got a new opponent coming in the second week that we've got to get this game behind us."
After backup quarterback Joey Halzle's 36-yard touchdown pass to Iglesias made it a 50-point lead, Oklahoma's mascot ponies -- Boomer and Sooner -- weren't even sent onto the field with the Sooner Schooner for their usual celebration. Unlike all the first-half scores, no fireworks were set off after Brown's 1-yard TD run put Oklahoma up 57-2.
The Sooners ended up playing Chattanooga -- which after a 2-9 season was hardly a threat like fellow conference member Appalachian State, the three-time FCS champions -- after Middle Tennessee turned down an opportunity to be Oklahoma's season-opening foe.
After all, they'd been there before. They lost 59-0 in Norman two years ago.
"Everything isn't always perfect or how you want it to be," Stoops said. "You deal with it the best you can. ... I don't know that anyone's complained about our schedule over the years. We've played a fairly exciting schedule and have got some great games coming up.
"Every now and then you get caught in a situation that isn't the best. That's the way it goes."
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Boomer Bytes | View Main
Updated each weekday morning and following games, Boomer Bytes is your quick guide to Sooners in the news:
John Hoover of the Tulsa World: "Against overmatched Tennessee-Chattanooga, No. 4-ranked OU debuted its new fast-paced scheme before a crowd of 84,715 on Saturday night at Memorial Stadium, and the Sooners lit up the scoreboard for a 57-2 victory."
From the Chattanooga Times Free Press: "I've known for a long time that Oklahoma's fans are as devoted as any in the country, but before this week I didn't know how friendly they were. All week long they've e-mailed me with questions or to offer compliments about the work that we do..."
John Shinn of the Norman Transcript: "Football's an evolving game. There was a day when seeing less than 20 passes a game was rare. Saturday at Owen Field, the huddle became blasé. Oklahoma's 57-2 rout of Tennessee-Chattanooga featured a lot of things, but none of it included an OU huddle."
Jake Trotter of the Oklahoman: "Forty-five minutes into the halftime that wouldn't end, a boy sloshed 100 yards through the downpour, sliding feet first across the goal line. He was hardly the only Sooner to score. Before the rains, Oklahoma hummed in its new-look, no-huddle offense."
From Mike Jones of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "Personally, I never thought OU last season had the internal leadership, the all-consuming fire to compete that some of Stoops' other teams have had. The definitive personality answer won't come until January, though OU had its head in a game last night (for a half) everyone knew it would win big."
Jimmie Tramel of the Tulsa World: "Fans who wanted Oklahoma to be perfect against Tennessee-Chattanooga were disappointed, but only slightly. Tongue in cheek, let's run down the less-than-perfect list: Quarterback Sam Bradford hit "only" 12 of his first 13 pass attempts."
From the Dallas Morning News: "With the scoreboard reading Oklahoma 50, Tennessee-Chattanooga 0, OU fans left Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium celebrating a dominating performance. The band played and the lights went out."
Clay Horning of the Norman Transcript: "Hardly even an answered question or new question posed following the first 60 minutes of the Sooner season, which does OU few favors. Not with a formidable Cincinnati team on the way to Owen Field, nor with Washington waiting a week later in Seattle or TCU coming up from Fort Worth two weeks later."
John Hoover of the Tulsa World: "This was no test, but the Sooners dominated as they should. With four minutes left in the first half, OU had 351 yards and Chattanooga had minus-4. Although the Mocs presented zero challenge, Ryan Reynolds looked capable at middle linebacker, Auston English devoured blockers..."
Berry Tramel of the Oklahoman: "After the most lopsided half of football in 30 years at Owen Field, and the second-most lopsided since anyone was paying attention, and the most embarrassing ballgame any of us hopefully will ever have to witness, God saw all that college football had made."
John Shinn of the Norman Transcript: "Take a break: Oklahoma public address announcer Jim Miller made the first plea at 7:50 p.m. The storm brewing south of Norman was heading north and the stadium needed to be cleared. He continued to repeat the information for the next hour. All told, Saturday night's game was delayed 1 hour and 12 minutes."