Welcome back to another exciting edition of our 2019 Countdown to Kickoff series! As of this glorious Sunday, we are exactly three weeks out from the return of Oklahoma Sooners Football! With just 21 days left to go, I want to revisit OU’s blowout victory over the UCLA Bruins in Week 2 of the 2018 season.
Coming into the contest, UCLA was reeling from a season opening upset by Cincinnati. Year one under former Oregon and Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly was off to a rough start, and a trip to Norman wasn’t about to make things any easier. Meanwhile, Kyler Murray’s name was catching fire throughout the college football world back at the Palace on the Prairie following his superb performance in the first half against FAU.
After a slow start to the game that saw both the Bruins and the Sooners punt, the offense began to pick up as UCLA drove down the field to take an early 7-0 lead. It was the first time Oklahoma had trailed in the season, but it would be the only lead of the day for Kelly’s bunch. Right away, Tre Brown returned the subsequent kickoff 86 yards, and three plays later, Rodney Anderson breached the end zone to tie it all back up.
An electric kickoff return by Tre Brown. #Sooners pic.twitter.com/atOoWAcBZs— Sooner Gridiron (@soonergridiron) September 8, 2018
Speaking of Anderson, the biggest takeaway from this game wasn’t the final score, but rather the loss of one of the top running backs in the nation. After going down in the second quarter, it was up to Murray and the rest of Oklahoma’s offense to pick up the slack.
A player that the Sooners were never going to have to worry about giving his all was Marquise Brown. Florida’s ‘Hollywood’ showed the team from California’s Hollywood what it means to be faster than fast.
TOUCHDOWN— Sooner Gridiron (@soonergridiron) September 8, 2018
HOLLYWOOD BROWN. TO. THE. HOUSE.#BoomerSooner pic.twitter.com/KPRGQKKuxt
The Sooners went up 21-7 at the half, and later in the third, as Oklahoma continued to cruise, CeeDee Lamb went up for the greatest one-handed catch out of bounds you’ll ever see.
CeeDee Lamb: YOU ARE RIDICULOUS. pic.twitter.com/fatSrSK1gq— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) September 8, 2018
Once the fourth quarter began, most of OU’s reserves were on the field, and UCLA was able to muster two more touchdowns after trailing by as much as 42-7. Still, an outstanding performance from the defense and a strong showing from the offense, despite losing one of its best pieces, amounted to a decisive 49-21 victory for the Crimson & Cream.
One final fun fact: the first and the last picks of the 2019 NFL Draft were both in this game, as Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray and UCLA TE Caleb Wilson went No. 1 and No. 254 (Mr. Irrelevant), respectively. Now those two are teammates for the Arizona Cardinals.
Now let’s cover any days we missed since our last countdown post:
22 Days! - Sophomore RB T.J. Pledger
With veteran running backs Rodney Anderson and Marcelias Sutton sidelined with injuries for the majority of the 2018 season, true freshman T.J. Pledger was the clear third back for much of the fall. Making 11 total appearances, the former IMG Academy prospect showed why the OU coaches and the recruiting services were so high on him.
T.J. Pledger breaks off a couple spin moves to get some extra yardage on this carry. #Sooners pic.twitter.com/EB936bvxyf— Sooner Gridiron (@soonergridiron) October 27, 2018
His biggest game came against the Kansas State Wildcats, where he racked up 91 yards on 13 carries. In total, Pledger rushed 30 times for 179 yards (6.0 average), while also adding this 12-yard reception against the Army Black Knights.
T.J. Pledger with first down catch. #Sooners pic.twitter.com/aQP9d2l9Px— Sooner Gridiron (@soonergridiron) September 23, 2018
Though RBs Trey Sermon and Kennedy Brooks are both back to handle the bulk of Oklahoma’s running game this fall, Pledger has proven he can handle his share of the load as well. His natural balance, shiftiness in space, all mixed with his underrated drive power make him an excellent complementary option for Lincoln Riley’s offense.
23 Days! - Curtis Bolton’s 23 tackles against Army
Kenneth Murray reset Oklahoma’s program record for the most tackles in a single game (28) when the Sooners took on Army, but his teammate Curtis Bolton also had what is now the third best performance all-time in that regard on the same night. The redshirt senior LB totaled 23 tackles for himself, and actually recorded two more solo tackles than his buddy K9. With that in mind, enjoy these highlights from one of the games of the year.
Today, Curtis ‘Buzzy’ Bolton is with the Green Bay Packers as an UDFA, and he’s grading out incredibly well so far in the preseason.
Of the 24 defensive players to play 20+ snaps in the #Packers win last night, UDFA Curtis Bolton was the highest graded.— PFF GB Packers (@PFF_Packers) August 9, 2019
Curtis Bolton (90.6)
Raven Greene (88.5)
Montravius Adams (76.2)
James Looney (75.2)
Kingsley Keke (74.8)#GoPackGo pic.twitter.com/AFN9a31pcF
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