Oklahoma put the ponies in the barn.
On a beautiful night in Norman, the Oklahoma Sooners found a way to move to 2-0 on the year. With Memorial Stadium rocking and striped for the game, the offense came out flat and it remained that way for much of the night.
After their slow start, the Sooners got a spark from the special teams with a blocked punt in the first quarter to set them up with great field position. They would quickly capitalize on that with a quick 29-yard touchdown pass from Dillon Gabriel to Andrel Anthony. SMU would respond on the next drive with a field goal to make the score 7-3 halfway through the first quarter.
The defense started to settle in and was the story of the night, regularly getting off the field on third downs. In fact, SMU only converted four of their 16 third downs tonight — quite a departure from performances in years past. The defense made their presence known halfway through the first quarter forcing three straight stops to end the half. With key contributions from Danny Stutsman and Kip Lewis, the linebackers really put on a show. Stutsman seemed to be everywhere tonight and led the team in tackles with 17 total, one sack and one fumble recovery. Lewis made the most of his opportunities by tallying nine total tackles, and he will look for more playing time (and even a potential start) next week.
The Sooners would get on the board again midway through the second quarter with a much-needed 95-yard drive. They would go into the half up 14-3, but anyone who watched the game knows Oklahoma left some points out there.
The third quarter was head-scratching for the OU offense as they stalled on all of their drives. To put it lightly, they did not seem to open up the playbook much. Penalties also made things difficult, as they had nine of them for 88 yards. SMU would take advantage and score early in the fourth quarter to move within three points of the Sooners after a successful 2-point conversion.
When Oklahoma needed it most, they finally started to click on the offensive side of the ball and strung together a nice 75-yard drive that ended with Gabriel connecting with Jalil Farooq on a 21-yard touchdown pass.
¡Jalil Farooq esta en !
— Los Sooners (@LosSooners) September 10, 2023
With the Sooners up 21-11 late in the fourth quarter, SMU was forced to go for it on fourth down deep in their own territory. That’s when five-star freshman Peyton Bowen and the defense stepped up and forced the turnover on downs. Marcus Major would score shortly thereafter to seal the win, putting the Sooners out of reach of the Mustangs.
Despite the inconsistency from the OU offense, the result overall seems like a positive step forward for the Oklahoma football program. This is absolutely the type of game OU would have found a way to lose in 2022. They’ll look to build upon this victory as they travel to Tulsa to take on the hurricanes next Saturday for their first road contest of the season.