It was not an ideal day at Owen Field on Saturday.
Lightning forced a 90-minute delay prior to kickoff and the entire game was played in a steady downpour of varying intensity. The stadium was a little more than half full at kickoff, but the brave folks who stayed throughout the entire game sure had a good time.
History was made on Saturday, as freshman running back Samaje Perine set a new NCAA single-game rushing record, running for 427 yards as the Sooners trounced Kansas, 44-7.
Ladainian Tomlinson ran for 406 yards in 1999, a record that stood until last week, when Melvin Gordon ran for 408 yards against Nebraska. But while Tomlinson's record stood for 5,466 days, Gordon's lasted a mere seven.
?It looked like it was going to be a good day for Perine from the beginning of the game. Perine's first carry was a 49-yard touchdown run where he went untouched off the left side of the line. “Untouched” became a common theme against the Jayhawks, as the OU offensive line consistently opened gaping holes for Perine. Four of Perine's five touchdown runs were of the untouched variety and all were at least 33 yards. The fifth score came on a 4th and 2 run up the middle where he broke several tackles in traditional Perine style before rumbling in with a 27-yard score.
Perine's bruising style has become a major hit in Norman this year, but before the season, it wasn't likely to be showcased a lot this season. Perine wasn't even the most highly touted running back in the Oklahoma freshman class at the beginning of the year. That title belonged to Joe Mixon, but the incident between him and a female student in July led to a year-long suspension and put Perine in position to receive a bigger workload right off the bat.
The OU backfield is plenty crowded—and will be even more so when next year's recruiting class comes to Norman, along with Mixon, should he choose to stay—but Perine has set himself apart from the other running backs on the roster with his unique combination of size and speed. He doesn't shy away from contact. In fact, Perine said after the game he often searches out contact because he says he's not a good open field runner.
The fact Perine is a freshman makes Saturday's record-setting performance even more impressive. Gordon has shown the country how good he is over the past three years at Wisconsin, but Perine played his 11th college football game on Saturday. Because of that, Perine now holds not only the national single-game rushing record, but the Big 12, freshman and Oklahoma single-game marks. Not bad for a rainy day.
While Perine ran over, around and through the Kansas defense, the Oklahoma defense completely shut down the Kansas offense. Yes, the rain and wind had plenty to do with the Jayhawks' inability to move the football, but the Sooners played one of their best games of the year against a team that had been very successful on offense the past few weeks.
OU held Kansas to 103 yards and just seven first downs, not to mention a 2-for-16 performance on third downs. The Sooners also ended their streak of games without an interception at four games, as Ahmad Thomas got his first interception of the season.
The defensive line was particularly effective, holding Kansas to 19 yards on 36 carries. The Sooners ended up with just one official sack, but OU was constantly pressuring Kansas quarterback Michael Cummings and also ended up with eight tackles for loss.
But the day ultimately belonged to Perine, who ran into the record books with his 34-carry, 427-yard, five-touchdown performance. A day that began as anything but ideal turned out to be pretty good after all.