By Michael Kinney
NORMAN – Despite coming off a season in which it played in the College Football Playoffs and returning the majority of its starts, No. 7 Oklahoma was on upset alert in its opener. At least they were to some analyst around the country who thought the loss of Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield was too much for the Sooners to overcome.
While it’s too early to say that all of the questions have been answered, the Sooners dominating 63-14 win over Florida Atlantic at Memorial Stadium Saturday went a long way to quieting some doubters for now.
“We don’t really care what the outside says,” quarterback Kyler Murray said. “We know it’s about us. We’re confident in us. If they want to predict we were going to get upset, then that’s what they’re going to predict. As far as messages go, this is just game one. One game at a time for us.”
After playing mostly mop-up duty last year behind Mayfield, Murray showed no signs of not being ready.
The redshirt junior ended his day with 209 yards passing and two touchdowns on 9 of 11 passing and no turnovers.
“He handled it well,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said of his quarterback. “There were definitely some nerves. Everybody has nerves before the first game. It doesn’t matter if you have coached for this long or had this many starts, you never know exactly what the first one’s going to be like. I think he only missed one throw the entire game, one ball on our sideline. I thought he was efficient.”
From the opening kick-off, Oklahoma was in complete control of the contest on both sides of the ball. But it was the offense that set the tone.
The Sooners first offensive drive of the season featured their new one-two gut punch of Murray and Anderson.
After driving the Sooners into Owl’s territory, Murry took a broken a play crisscrossed the field looking for an open man before taking off and running for a 15-yard gain.
The very next play, Anderson plowed through them idle of the defense before breaking loose for a 30-yard TD run.
“I kind of feel like the whole game was a statement drive,” Anderson said. “It was just a good thing to get in the end zone again.”
Anderson’s two touchdowns on the day give him 15 rushing TDs in his career at OU. That includes the 65 -yarder in the second quarter.
Despite carrying the ball only five times, Anderson ran for 102 yards. It was the sixth career 100-yard rushing game for the redshirt junior.
Oklahoma had three scoring plays that went for 65 yards. Along with Anderson’s run, Marquise brown and Lee Morris each broke loose in the secondary to catch TDs from Murray.
Morris, who is a walk-on wide receiver, also blocked a punt in the first quarter that set up a Curtis Bolton touchdown.
Lee was in game breaker mode,” Brown said. “He really showed up big today. On special teams and on offense. And that play, it just showed that he can be a good playmaker for us.”
The defense didn’t allow the Owls to score in the first half and allowed just over 300 total yards for the game. The overall dominance had FAU coach Lane Kiffin singing the Sooners praises.
“I’d be shocked if there is a better team in the country than what I saw today,” Kiffin said. “Defense much improved. Those backs and receivers, the offensive line is big. I’d be shocked if that team is playing in the playoffs.”
Backup quarterback Austin Kendell had to be carted off the field in the fourth quarter after sliding on the FAU sideline into some equipment. According to Lincoln Riley, they do not know the severity of the leg injury and had no updates after the game.
“Don’t know anything on Austin Kendall yet,” Riley said. “We’ll see how he’s doing, but I’m optimistic.”
Kyler Murray said he spoke to Kendell before leaving the stadium
“I think he’s good,” Murray said. “Obviously, we need him to be here for us. I don’t know anything else. Hopefully, he’ll be fine.”
Oklahoma will be without Addison Gumbs for the rest of the season after the sophomore linebacker suffered a non-contact knee injury Friday at practice
“I hate that for Addison because he was really coming on and starting to do some really nice things for us,” Riley said. “But this is where our depth has to show up and so we’ll get him in rehab and get him back.”
Sooners will host UCLA (0-1) Saturday.