NORMAN — Oklahoma emerged from its cocoon Saturday night as a completely different team from 2012. A program celebrated for throwing the ball became a running team. The same group mocked for suspect defense dominated in a 34-0 victory over Louisiana-Monroe Saturday night at Owen Field.
A metamorphosis is the only to describe what the Sooners displayed on the field.
“Probably fair to say,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “I hadn’t looked at it that way, but yeah, that’s a good assessment.”
The Sooners won and won handily despite only throwing for 124 yards — their lowest total in six seasons.
Instead, OU rushed for 319 yards, riding a bevy of running backs and redshirt freshman quarterback Trevor Knight.
Knight finished with 103 rushing yards and became the first OU quarterback since the 1980s to cross the century mark while running backs Damien Williams (66), Brennan Clay (43) and Roy Finch (44) combined for 151 yards.
The running game mixed with the Sooners’ first shutout since 2010, allowed Knight to settle in after a shaky start. Knight was just 3 for 10 for just 36 yards in the first quarter and OU gained just one first down during that stretch.
But the group that was last seen giving up more than 600 yards to Texas A&M in the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic, kept forcing punts from the Warhawks.
“That’s what we were expecting,” said linebacker Corey Nelson, who finished the night with OU’s only sack and two tackles for loss. “We wanted the mindset where we came in with a chip on our shoulder. We wanted to show people that we can play Oklahoma defense.”
It’s been years since OU truly relied on it, but it happened Saturday.
Louisiana-Monroe, which beat Arkansas and took Auburn and Baylor down to the wire last season, only had nine first downs and 166 total yards.