The Oklahoma Sooners were supposed to lose a step after Heisman winner Baker Mayfield took his talents to the NFL.
Florida Atlantic was supposed to take their next step toward becoming an elite mid-major football program, with many experts projecting a New Year’s Day 6 bowl game for the Owls.
Well, it was a surprise Saturday for some across college football as Oklahoma dominated Lane Kiffin’s FAU 63-14 in a game that was truly over after one quarter.
I watched from sunny Southern California where I went to the UCLA game later that evening. One question stuck in my head after watching both games yesterday was, which team is better right now — the Bruins or the Owls?
The most beautiful part of Saturday’s football surprise might have been the performance of Kyler Murray’s former teammate at Allen High School, Lee Morris.
Morris is a walk-on at Oklahoma. Doubt he’s that for long.
Rodney Anderson opened the scoring on a 30-yard scamper after the Owls had penetrated Oklahoma territory on their opening possession.
My thought after 3:00 of the first quarter was, “Are the Sooners ready to play?”
Offensively they sure were. Kyler Murray went 9 for 11, throwing for 209 yards and running for 23 more. Murray’s passes were clean, but his protection had a lot to do with that. On one of the rare occasions when his protection broke down, Murray made like little Joe and scampered brilliantly for a first down.
Defensively, I sensed this Oklahoma club was more ready to attack than in years past. Redshirt senior Curtis Bolton recovered a blocked punt in the end zone, courtesy of Lee Morris, to give the Sooners a 14-0 lead.
And then Morris, a former high school teammate of Murray in Allen, Texas, hauled in a short pass and took it 65 yards for the score. To be honest, I figured Morris was a tight end and not a wide receiver. Big dude! Fast legs.
And he’s a walk-on? Wow.
Trey Sermon ended the first frame with a 17-yard score before Rodney Anderson and Hollywood Brown matched 65-yard scores, the most impressive part being Murray’s b-o-m-b to Hollywood. That pass was Jason White-esque in its height and length.
It was a thing of beauty.
After that, in came Austin Kendall and the second-team crew. The game was over, and Lincoln Riley knew it. Lane Kiffin knew it. Oklahoma had gone for the kill early so that there were no issues in the second half.
Well, except for one.
Backup QB Kendall slid out of bounds in the fourth quarter and bashed his knee against the big equipment chest on the FAU sideline. It’s no fault of FAU’s. Every team has this, but it didn’t look good at the end of that play.
As of Sunday morning, there was no update on Kendall other than Riley was “optimistic.” On a conference call Monday, Riley said Kendall was questionable for the UCLA game but avoided serious injury.
Truth be told, his optimism might be simply that Kyler Murray looked super solid. It’s just one win, and we don’t know for sure just how bad this FAU team is.
So it’s possible we still don’t yet know just how good this Oklahoma team is.
Gotta stay healthy though. College football is one part talent, two parts execution and a whole lot of attrition.