No. 1 Oklahoma Downs UNT, 37-3, In Opener

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
AUGUST 31, 2003

NORMAN, Okla. -- Jason White threw three touchdown passes and Oklahoma's defense was as good as advertised as the No. 1 Sooners opened the season with a 37-3 victory over North Texas on Saturday night.

The Sooners limited North Texas to 50 yards through three quarters before the Mean Green's only scoring drive, which began against the second-stringers. Midway through the second quarter, North Texas had more penalty yards (29) than offensive yards (18) and didn't cross midfield until just before halftime.

The two-time defending Sun Belt champions' frustration showed early after quarterback Scott Hall narrowly avoided a sack in the end zone by lofting the ball to unsuspecting right guard Nick Zuniga. The lineman spiked the ball in disgust as all four officials threw flags at the penalty.

White, a senior making only his fifth career start because of knee injuries the past two seasons, started slowly before getting into a rhythm.

He went 23-of-35 for 248 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown pass to receiver Brandon Jones early in the second quarter that left a defender sprawled on the ground and gave Oklahoma a 17-0 lead.

Jones finished with 10 receptions for 121 yards and Jejuan Rankins caught two touchdown passes, including one from backup quarterback Paul Thompson.

North Texas wasn't totally overwhelmed, however, limiting the Sooners to just 108 yards rushing as 5-foot-10, 315-pound defensive tackle Brandon Kennedy clogged up things along the line.

Kejuan Jones led Oklahoma with 51 yards on 15 carries.

Despite a driving rain throughout much of the first half, the game was played before a school-record 83,073 fans -- the most to ever watch a sporting event in state history.

The Sooners hit the field in throwback uniforms from the Bud Wilkinson teams of the late 1950s, while the coaches were decked out in clothing from Barry Switzer's staff in the late '70s and early 80s.

Dozens of former Sooner All-Americans were in the crowd, too, including former Heisman Trophy winners Billy Sims and Steve Owens.

They were there as a tribute to the championship past of the Sooners, appropriate for a team that opened the season No. 1 for the first time since Switzer's second-to-last team in 1987.

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