OU v Western Carolina Football

OU fans cheer during the Sooners' game against Western Carolina, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. 

NORMAN — There was a noticeable difference in the energy at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on Saturday.

The alternating chants of “Boomer” and “Sooner” from the fans were deafening. The crowd noise was distracting when Western Carolina faced third downs.

The atmosphere felt like a typical OU home game.

Saturday’s game marked the first full-capacity game since 2019. The university limited capacity at home games last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even as the Sooners’ lead became insurmountable in the second quarter, the crowd stuck around in the second half and remained engaged. It was clear the full stadium impacted the Sooners’ performance on the field.

The university announced that more than 83,000 were in attendance for the Sooners’ 76-0 win over the Catamounts. Earlier this week, the university announced that the Sooners’ next three home games are also sold out.

• Everybody finds the end zone: Seven different OU players scored against Western Carolina.

Eric Gray and Mike Woods each scored their first touchdowns as OU players. Jadon Haselwood, who hadn’t scored since 2019, found the end zone twice in the first half.

Backup running backs Jaden Knowles and Todd Hudson each recorded their first collegiate touchdowns, and both found the end zone twice in the second half.

• Gabe Brkic does it again: OU’s place kicker is making long field goals look easy.

After making three field goals from 50 yards or more last week, Brkic was summoned for a 56-yard attempt early in the first quarter.

The ball had plenty of room as it sailed in between the goal posts.

The field goal tied his career long, which he set last week against Tulane. It was also his school-record ninth career of 50 or more yards.

• Caleb Williams sees extended playing time: With the Sooners leading by 45 at half, OU coach Lincoln Riley sat Spencer Rattler in the second half.

So it was Williams who played quarterback for the Sooners for most of the second half, and he showed his potential.

On his second play from scrimmage, he gained 59 yards on a quarterback keeper that helped Knowles score on a goal line carry just a few minutes later. Williams later found Knowles on a deep-throw down the left sidelines for 57 yards.

The freshman finished with 84 yards passing and 60 yards rushing.

• Injury report: The only downside for the Sooners was an injury that happened in the second half.

Freshman linebacker Danny Stutsman went down with an apparent shoulder injury early in the fourth quarter. He was attended to by OU trainers for a couple minutes on the field before heading straight to the locker room.

He led the Sooners defense in total tackles with eight and also forced a fumble.

It’s unclear if the injury will cause Stutsman to miss any time.

Drake Stoops also made his season debut after missing last week, finishing with one catch for 13 yards.

• Next: The Sooners will play their third straight home game against Nebraska at 11 a.m. next Saturday.

• Extra Points: The last time the Sooners shutout an opponent was Sept. 12, 2020, when they beat Missouri State 48-0…. The Sooners’ 76-point victory is the biggest since their 77-0 win against Texas A&M in 2003…. Rattler became the second OU quarterback to throw five touchdowns in a first half since Jason White in 2003…. The fourth quarter was shortened from 15 minutes to 12… True freshman CB Latrell McCutchin made his first career start, recording a solo tackle.

Jesse Crittenden is the sports editor of The Transcript and covers OU athletics. Reach him at jesse@normantranscript.com or at 405-366-3580

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