OU football: Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts 'cool as a fan' in lopsided victory at UCLA 

Senior quarterback Jalen Hurts celebrates after scoring during the game against UCLA in Pasadena Sept. 14.

PASADENA, Calif. — Jalen Hurts walked across scorching pavement outside the Rose Bowl with his typically focused expression.

He and Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley had just stepped off the bus and were headed for the tunnel that leads to Spieker Field.

A cry rang out.

“Tua took your spot!” shouted a UCLA heckler.

If Hurts was in any way affected by that reminder, that he lost his starting position to Tua Tagovailoa at Alabama last year, he made sure to quickly unleash any frustration on OU’s first drive.

Hurts ran for 99 yards right out of the gate — including a 52-yard gash up on the first play while accounting for every inch of offense in OU’s game-opening drive — in fifth-ranked OU’s 48-14 victory over UCLA Saturday.

“It wouldn’t be the first and it wouldn’t be the last,” Hurts said about how he handles hecklers. “When you’ve experienced the things I’ve experienced and you’ve seen those different things. When you’ve been at top and essentially been knocked down off the throne, you know, some stuff doesn’t bother you.

“Keep the main thing the main thing.”

After his 30-yard touchdown run ended OU’s opening drive, Hurts trotted into the end zone and pinned the ball firmly into the ground with one hand.

He accounted for 347 total yards, finishing 15-of-20 passing for 289 yards and three touchdowns, to go with 150 yards rushing and a score.

“He got out loose on a couple scrambles,” Riley said. “We’ve got some good wideouts and playmakers and guys making plays. When you do cover us up, he’s a threat to run. He’s an athlete. That’s why you recruit good athletes and let them go play, because when it’s not there, they can make it work.”

OU (3-0) had 258 yards of offense in the first quarter alone — second most in school history for an opening quarter — and led 34-7 by halftime. Hurts’ 141 rushing yards set a school record by a quarterback in an opening half.

“He’s a special player … Probably as good as I’ve ever coached against,” UCLA coach Chip Kelly said.

UCLA (0-3) was more outmatched than expected. The Bruins had 116 yards of total offense by the end of the first half, including 37 yards rushing on 18 attempts. Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson was sacked four times.

The Bruins finished with 311 total yards.

OU grabbed two interceptions, career firsts for cornerback Tre Brown and linebacker Ryan Jones, meeting defensive coordinator Alex Grinch’s quota for takeaways in the second straight game after coming up with none in the season opener.

The quick start set the tone. OU has a 38-0 advantage in first quarters this season. The Sooners finished with 611 yards total offense, with 434 of it coming before half.

“We’ve come out strong,” Riley said. “We’ve done what we’ve needed to do. We’re playing good, team football and we were able to sustain it a little longer tonight. It’s not where we need to be, but it was steps.”

OU receiver Charleston Rambo caught five passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns.

It was arguably the most complete performance OU has produced through three games, heading into an off week. The Sooners won’t play again until Sept. 28 at home against Texas Tech.

“You feel this team starting to feed off each other,” Riley said. “That’s a difficult thing to simulate as you go through spring, camp. Because you’re going against each other. All of a sudden you start playing on the same team. I really felt that on the sidelines tonight.”

So did OU defensive end Ronnie Perkins. Hurts helped get things going with his big first quarter. His big plays, Perkins said, are energizing.

“That’s our quarterback. I definitely want to see him do good, especially because of all the adversity he’s been through. That’s one of the guys I’m rooting for. I wanna see him do great things and, hopefully, become our third [straight] guy to win that one trophy (the Heisman).”

Hurts seemed unbothered by any outside force in California. Temperatures were 96 degrees at kickoff with poor air quality, according to weather reports.

That didn’t affect him early at all.

“I couldn’t tell,” he said. “I was cool as a fan.”

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