OU football: Five takeaways from Sooners' 62-28 win over Texas Tech
LUBBOCK, Texas — OU was slow out of the gate but soon took off like Usain Bolt, blowing away Texas Tech 62-28 on Saturday night at Jones AT&T Stadium.
Here are five takeaways from the Sooners’ victory:
1. Still DRE
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Guess who’s back?
It didn’t take Rhamondre Stevenson long to make noise in his first game of the season.
On Stevenson’s first carry, he had a 6-yard touchdown run to tie the game.
It was the first of three touchdowns for the senior running back, who had missed the last six games — including last season’s Peach Bowl — after being suspended by the NCAA for what sources have said was a positive marijuana test.
After scoring the third of his touchdowns, Stevenson raised his shirt to reveal a message — “I’m back.”
Even with the recent emergence of T.J. Pledger, who was coming off back-to-back 100-yard plus games, the Sooners had struggled to produce in the running game, averaging just 3.7 yards per carry.
But Stevenson immediately added a bigger, tougher presence in the backfield.
The Sooners hadn’t averaged more than 3.8 yards per carry in any game this season but averaged 5.5 yards on the ground against the Red Raiders. Late in the game, that number was nearly two yards per carry higher.
2. And Still TRE
While Stevenson had to wait around 11 months to make a major impact for the Sooners, Tre Norwood’s absence was quite a bit longer.
Norwood had played in every game this season but had made just nine tackles in a reserve role.
But with safety Delarrin Turner-Yell out, Norwood made his first start since the 2018 Orange Bowl.
The versatile redshirt junior from Arkansas took advantage of the opportunity, with a pair of first-quarter interceptions.
Norwood became the first Sooners defender with two interceptions in a game since Jordan Evans against Baylor in 2016.
He became the first OU defender with two interceptions in one quarter since Jordan Thomas in 2015 Bedlam.
Norwood’s big plays helped the Sooners turn around two of their most glaring defensive deficiencies — safety play and lack of turnovers.
The Sooners’ defense had forced just five turnovers through the first five games — three of those coming against Texas.
OU forced three turnovers total Saturday night. The Red Raiders fumbled six times but only one was recovered by the Sooners.
Another interception — in the third quarter by Woodi Washington — was wiped out by an OU penalty.
3. Another quick day for Rattler
Spencer Rattler wasn’t out of the game by halftime like he was in the season opener against Missouri State, but Rattler was watching from the sidelines not long after the second half began.
Rattler played just one series in the second half — a touchdown drive that ended with Mikey Henderson’s first career touchdown.
Rattler has been fantastic since being benched in the second quarter against Texas.
Saturday, he finished 21 of 30 for 288 yards and two touchdowns.
Perhaps most importantly, he once again avoided turning the ball over.
Rattler struggled against Kansas State, Iowa State and early in the Texas games with costly turnovers that helped contribute to the 1-2 start. But since his fumble against the Longhorns that led to his being pulled in favor of Tanner Mordecai, Rattler has not turned the ball over.
4. Look the part, be the part
By virtue of their wins over Texas and TCU the last couple weeks, the Sooners kept their chances of making the Big 12 Championship Game — and winning the league for the sixth consecutive season — alive.
But Saturday, the Sooners got a couple breaks before they took the field that virtually gave them control of their own destiny to do that.
Oklahoma State’s loss to Texas opened the door wider, as the Sooners winning out — which would include a Bedlam win Nov. 21 — would put OU ahead of the Cowboys.
Iowa State and Kansas State remain in front of the Sooners but the Wildcats’ loss at West Virginia on Saturday — and quarterback Skylar Thompson’s season-ending injury — figures to make it difficult for Kansas State to remain in position to make the title game.
Those results were important — very important, even — for the Sooners’ future fate (again, should they win out) but what OU showed on the field was even more important.
For the first time this season, the Sooners looked like a team that could win the Big 12.
Rattler avoided mistakes, the running game took the pressure off and already stellar passing game, the secondary got a pair of interceptions and the defensive line — already the strength of the defense — got even more teeth with the return of Ronnie Perkins.
As good as Rattler and Norwood were, the best players on the field for the Sooners were Stevenson and Perkins and their return also seemed to give OU an emotional lift.
5. Slow start
It’s easy to forget after the way OU wound up piling on the points but there was a time when things looked awfully shaky for the Sooners.
On the first drive of the game, Texas Tech drove right down the field and scored, needing just seven plays and 2:40 to drive 75 yards.
On the next drive, a holding penalty — that was called on Tyrese Robinson but replay showed the flag was thrown well before Robinson ever engaged with a defender — immediately put OU in a tough spot and helped lead to a three-and-out.
But from there, the Sooners’ offense turned it on, the defense was disruptive and the game was quickly out of hand.
OU scored touchdowns on six consecutive drives. The defense held the Red Raiders to just 35 combined yards on their next five drives, two of which ended on Norwood interceptions and another ending on a turnover on downs.