10 quick thoughts on Oklahoma’s 49-31 win over Houston
Oklahoma 49, Houston 31
10. The Oklahoma Sooners are pretty good at this football thing. Yes, Jalen Hurts was amazing, and yes, the Houston defense isn’t going to be anything special this season, but the Cougars kept on fighting, kept on pushing, and it was strong 60-minute effort that showed off just how dangerous this team is going to be. Oklahoma might be in the College Football Playoff, and Houston didn’t get their doors blown off. It might be a moral victory, but that’s something.
9. It was the showcase game for Hurts, and it wasn’t quite the big breakout moment for D’Eriq King, but the Cougar starting quarterback passed the 100-yard rushing mark and didn’t make a whole slew of mistakes. There weren’t bad picks or bad plays – again, Oklahoma is really, really good. Houston was beaten by a better team.
8. Okay, let’s get to it … the Sooner defense really might be a whole lot better – or, at least, not so miserable. Don’t get caught up in the stats, and don’t get into a twist over allowing 21 second half points and a slew of big late yards. When it mattered early on, Oklahoma slowed down a Houston offense that’s going to finish in the top 25 in the country, if not the top ten. It wasn’t just the big day from LB Kenneth Murray – the Sooners were hitting. The tackling – at least for one week – was a whole lot better.
7. New defensive coordinator Alex Grinch is one big difference to this Oklahoma season. The other is on the offensive side, but there appeared to be more of an attitude, more toughness up front, and again, more toughness. Now the takeaways have to come. The Sooners came close to coming up with a few of them, but they didn’t get one. More pressure in the backfield and winning the turnover battle will be a few talking points going into the South Dakota game.
6. Here’s the thing about Jalen Hurts’ whole not-happy-interview thing with Holly Rowe – one of the nicest humans on the planet – after a nearly perfect performance. If that’s anyone else saying that about needing to get better while harping on the negatives, it comes across as phony. By that guy, after all he has been through and all he has seen at a national championship-level program, if he says Oklahoma was sloppy, Oklahoma was sloppy.
5. Both teams were tremendously physical on the offensive front. Houston’s Mubar Carr only ran nine times, but he went beast mode averaging over eight yards per pop. Oklahoma had more sensational dashes from its stars – averaging close to ten yards per carry – but they were pounding away. It was a great game for a rebuilding OU line that got a change to fire away.
4. The Sooners were able to spread the ball around incredibly well. CeeDee Lamb came up with a few interesting moments on punt returns and with his touchdown grab, but the O showed off a whole lot of weapons. Jadon Haselwood with one 42-yard play looked like the next big thing. Charleston Rambo caught three passes for 105 yards and a score. In all, seven Sooners caught two passes or more for 20 yards or more. Everyone got involved.
3. Marquez Stevenson didn’t go totally unnoticed, but the Houston star really was one of the best players on the field. He caught seven passes for 80 yards and a score, and he had to work for it. The Cougars have weapons, but Stevenson was hounded by the OU defensive backs.
2. 686 yards of Oklahoma offense. 408 yards of Houston offense. Lots of big plays, just 13 combined penalties, and a great effort from all sides. It wasn’t a killer matchup for a Sunday night showdown – this was all about the Jalen Hurts show – but it was entertaining. Big 12 football – which is what Holgorsen is bringing in all ways to Houston – is fun.
Okay, okay, this was all about …
1. Jalen Hurts was magnificent. Don’t just take this performance for granted. Remember, last year around this time, he was the No. 2 guy at Alabama for a reason. It wasn’t just that Tua Tagovailoa was and is better, it was also that Hurts didn’t play all that well in the offseason when he had his opportunities. At Oklahoma, in this offense, he looked like a grad student showing the freshmen where the library is.
The 16 carries might be a wee bit much. He did a great job of getting down and protecting himself, and he didn’t take any massive shots, but he’s the guy. He’s the one who can take this team to the national championship – or closer to it than Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray did. He can’t get hurt.
20-of-23 for 332 yards and three scores and no picks, and those 176 rushing yards and three scores on 16 carries – yeah, this worked out just fine.
But it is the Houston defense. Hurts and the Sooners aren’t going to see any sort of a wall until mid-October against Texas, and the Iowa State and TCU games are at home. For now, though, this is the dream game for Oklahoma.
Hurts appears to be in the right spot with the right team at the exact right time.