The Oklahoma Sooners came into the 2014 season with high expectations and plenty of questions. The Sooners did nothing to dispel the hype on Saturday night, pounding Louisiana Tech, 48-16.
Behind a veteran offensive line and a deep defensive line, the Sooners controlled the line of scrimmage all night to the tune of 183 rushing yards and 245 total yards for the Bulldogs.
Coming into the game, OU had many questions at the skill positions but plenty of talent to replace departed players from a year ago. The Sooners showed things are going to be just fine, particularly at the running back position.
Keith Ford, Alex Ross and Samaje Perine combined to rush for 164 yards and five touchdowns on 33 carries. Running behind a veteran and battle-tested offensive line, the trio showcased a bruising style and lots of speed, constantly running around, over and through the Louisiana Tech defense. Perine, the burly freshman, was particularly impressive, rushing for 77 yards on 13 carries. Ford finished the day with 51 yards on nine carries, and also had four receptions for 65 yards out of the backfield. Ross had 11 carries for 36 yards and two receptions for 31 yards.
Ford scored on a 22-yard run and a five-yard run in the first quarter. Ross had a one-yard TD run and an eight-yard score. Perine had a seven-yard score late in the game.
The Sooners added a new wrinkle to their offense Saturday, swinging the ball to running backs instead of wide receivers on screen passes. The wrinkle allowed the backs to showcase their smashmouth style in space and resulted in big chunks of yardage all night.
In his first performance since the Sugar Bowl, quarterback Trevor Knight was good, but far from perfect. Knight had several passes batted down and was out of sync with his receivers multiple times. He wasn't off to the same degree he was at the beginning of last season, but there were several poor passes.
Knight also had a fumble in the second quarter that happened when the ball slipped out of his hand prior to a pass, and threw an interception in the fourth quarter.
Overall, Knight was solid and directed the offense well. He finished the game 19-of-34 for 253 yards and threw a beautiful fade pass to Sterling Shepard in the first quarter for a 16-yard touchdown and a 14-0 OU lead.
Knight didn't wow anyone with his stats, but he didn't have to with how the Sooners ran the ball and dominated the line of scrimmage, as well as how the OU defense lived up to the praise bestowed on it all offseason.
Oklahoma allowed just 245 yards and held the Bulldogs to 5-of-15 on third downs. The Sooners' depth was evident as a bunch of players saw the field as the score got more and more out of hand. The defense also avoided a potential disaster as linebacker Jordan Evans—already replacing Frank Shannon—was disqualified for targeting in the first quarter, forcing senior walk-on Caleb Gastellum into action. The ejection of Evans didn't prove to be a problem for the Sooners, as they held star back Kenneth Dixon to 42 yards on 16 carries.
The Sooners cruised out to a 31-3 halftime lead thanks to three rushing touchdowns and a defensive performance that limited Louisiana Tech to just 89 yards in the first 30 minutes.
Oklahoma began the second half with a very quick touchdown drive to put the game completely out of reach. OU went 75 yards in just five plays and ended the drive with a Ross eight-yard touchdown run.
Louisiana Tech finally found the end zone with 14:49 left in the game on a six-pass from Cody Sokol to Kenneth Dixon. The Sooners responded quickly, as Ross took the ensuing kickoff back 80 yards to the Bulldogs' 14. Perine found the end zone two plays later, dragging two defenders with him.