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NORMAN, Okla. -- With Adrian Peterson running so well, Oklahoma didn't even have to worry about who was passing the ball -- at least for one week.
Peterson ran for 180 of his 220 yards in the second half and added three touchdowns as the 18th-ranked Sooners avoided a second stunning loss by beating Tulsa 31-15 Saturday.
With new starter Rhett Bomar struggling at quarterback, Oklahoma (1-1) didn't attempt a pass in the second half. The Sooners' recipe for success was to give the ball to Peterson.
"We came out there and we played smash-mouth football," Peterson said.
Get in the O-Zone
After Tulsa (0-2) pulled ahead 9-7 in the third quarter on Brad DeVault's third field goal, Peterson took over. He ate up all 58 yards as the Sooners marched downfield to regain the lead.
Peterson broke off a 42-yard run down the left sideline, discarding a Tulsa defender at midfield before finally being forced out at the 16. Three plays later, he worked his way to the left end of the offensive line and fell into the end zone while being tackled for his second 1-yard scoring run of the game.
Peterson started Oklahoma's next drive with a 23-yard run that included a spin move from a near stop that left a Tulsa defender empty-handed. He even rescued Bomar by diving on the quarterback's fumble to keep the Sooners in position for a 29-yard field goal by Garrett Hartley.
Tulsa pulled within 17-15 on quarterback Paul Smith's 1-yard sneak with 9:10 left, but Peterson had an answer for that, too -- although he was helped by a gutsy call from coach Bob Stoops.
On a fourth-and 1, Peterson took a handoff, rammed through one defender, kept going as another tried to strip the ball from behind, then stiff-armed one last Golden Hurricane player before high-stepping into the end zone for a 41-yard score.
"There was no doubt in my mind that we were going to get it," Peterson said. "The guys out there, they were going to bust their butts for that one yard, and we got it. We got more. We got the touchdown."
Tulsa's ensuing drive ended when Smith fumbled and Oklahoma defensive end C.J. Ah You recovered. On the Golden Hurricane's next possession, Clint Ingram intercepted Smith's pass and returned it 48 yards for a touchdown with 3 seconds left and made sure Oklahoma wouldn't lose a third straight game for the first time since a five-game losing streak in 1998.
The Sooners lost 17-10 to TCU in their season opener last week and dropped the Orange Bowl to Southern California 55-19 in their final game last season.
"We needed to get a win, and that was the big thing ... ," offensive coordinator Chuck Long said. "We could feel it on the sideline. Our guys said, 'We can run the football on these guys,' and they did a nice job."
That was enough to overlook any numbers from Bomar -- which happened to be 5-for-13 for 42 yards passing with two interceptions. It was far from what was expected from Bomar, who arrived as the top-rated quarterback in the country last year and was given a shot after junior Paul Thompson was ineffective against TCU. Stoops said he never considered putting Thompson in the game, but that the competition at the position is always open.
"I'm not going to sit here and critique our quarterbacks in front of everybody," Stoops said. "We weren't very productive, we need to do a better job and that's what were going to try to do."
The Sooners gave the passing game a brief try to start the second half, but never actually got a throw away. Bomar was sacked twice in a span of three plays to start the half, and the passing game was essentially scrapped after that. On third-and-9 in the fourth quarter, Bomar scrambled for 16 yards while Peterson was on the sideline putting his shoe on after losing it on the previous play.
"We just wanted to run the ball all day ... ," offensive lineman Chris Bush said. "That was our main objective."
Oklahoma started the game by giving the ball to Peterson five straight times and on nine of 10 plays before he rammed his way into the end zone from a yard out to give Oklahoma a 7-0 lead.
But Peterson, who finished second in Heisman Trophy voting last season, got the ball only four more times for nine yards before halftime, and Bomar struggled to keep the offense moving.
"We're not going to be able to run the ball on every team. We're not going to be able to do that," Peterson said. "We've got to establish a passing game, and I feel like once we do that, then this team might be unstoppable."
Tight end Garrett Mills had a career-high 13 catches for 152 yards for Tulsa, which settled for field goals by DeVault from 22 and 19 yards after drives stalled inside the Oklahoma 5. He also converted a career-long 52-yard kick in the second quarter.
Smith was 24-for-36 for 246 yards with one interception.
"We weren't coming down here to eat a box lunch, get on the bus and go home," Tulsa coach Steve Kragthorpe said. "We came to Norman to win the football game ... and our guys played their heart out."