On Saturday night, the No. 5 Oklahoma Sooners came out firing on all cylinders in Spencer Rattler’s starting debut on the way to a 48-0 shutout over Missouri State. This is the first time OU has held an opponent scoreless since 2015 (55-0 at K-State).
Before the game, it was discovered that at least 17 Sooners would miss this contest for a variety of reasons (COVID-related, injuries, suspensions). Some of the more notable absences included RB T.J. Pledger, H-back Brayden Willis, LT Anton Harrison and K Gabe Brkic.
At present we can count 17 key players missing for the #Sooners. Biggest names being kicker Gabe Brkic. h-back Brayden Willis, RB T.J. Pledger, DL Marcus Stripling, WR Drake Stoops, WR Obi Obialo— SoonerScoop.com (@SoonerScoop) September 12, 2020
Although the news of the late scratches slightly dampened the anticipation ahead of kick-off, Rattler quickly re-energized the fans in attendance with his impressive display of quarterback poetry.
This #⃣7⃣ guy might be pretty good pic.twitter.com/WgjKpf4lma— Oklahoma Football (@OU_Football) September 12, 2020
After playing only the first half of the opener, Rattler wrapped up his starting debut with 290 passing yards and four touchdowns on 14-17 attempts. It should also be noted that two of his three incompletions occurred in the end zone and should have been held onto by the receiver.
One major positive coming from this blowout victory — other than the win itself — is the number of newcomers who made impact plays in their Sooner debuts. One such player on Saturday was true freshman running back Seth McGowan, who led the team with 61 rushing yards and a score on nine carries in addition to this 37-yard TD reception.
Another breakout youngster was receiver/returner Marvin Mims. The true freshman tied Charleston Rambo to lead the team with 80 receiving yards while adding 68 return yards on three MSU punts. He very well could have housed this one had he not ran into his own teammate, but his elite agility is apparent all the same.
Overall, the offense ran about as smoothly as it could for the majority of the first half. The Sooners scored on every possession through the first two quarters (five TDs, two field goals). One thing that Riley will want to see as the season moves along is more production from the running game. Though OU racked up 608 total yards from scrimmage, 484 of those yards came through the air, and only 124 were on the ground.
On the other side of the ball, the defense looked as dominant as anybody could have hoped for after losing some NFL talent from 2019’s group. In fact, Oklahoma kept MSU from crossing mid-field until deep into the second half, and held the Bears in check on third down (0-11).
Considering the overmatched opponent, creating turnovers still appears to be a challenge for Alex Grinch’s defense, Fortunately, safety Delarrin Turner-Yell made sure to hawk one in the third for this 42-yard INT-return.
A lot of positives can be taken away from this game, such as Rattler’s lights-out performance and the defense’s stifling play, but the real challenge begins now. The players who were sidelined tonight will undoubtedly help shore up the team’s depth across the board, but Oklahoma will keep up the defensive performances while working toward a more balanced offensive attack if it wants to seriously contend for a sixth consecutive Big 12 title.
Up next, OU has the next weekend off before hosting Kansas State on Sept. 26. Last season, the Wildcats held off a furious fourth quarter rally to upset the Sooners, 48-41. However, K-State’s 2020 season opener wasn’t nearly as successful after faltering to Arkansas State in Manhattan. Now they’ll attempt to rebound against a determined Oklahoma team with a score to settle. Kick-off for this one is set for 11 a.m. CT on FOX.
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