Oklahoma Sooners vs South Dakota Coyotes

Oklahoma Sooners running back Rhamondre Stevenson (29) runs past South Dakota Coyotes linebacker Jake Matthew (33) on his way to scoring a touchdown during the NCAA football game between the Oklahoma Sooners and the South Dakota Coyotes at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019. IAN MAULE/Tulsa World

Oklahoma returns to the Rose Bowl this week and the historic stadium is expected to have a much different look than the 2017 season’s College Football Playoff game against Georgia.

UCLA’s attendance of 36,951 for Saturday’s 23-14 loss to San Diego State was the lowest in 25 years for the school.

There’s a good bet that plenty of crimson-and-cream will be in attendance on Saturday.

But before looking ahead, let’s look at what we learned from Oklahoma’s 70-14 win over South Dakota.

Fists up

One week after defensive coordinator Alex Grinch said not producing a turnover in the season opener against Houston “rips your heart out,” the Sooners had three takeaways against the Coyotes. It’s the first time that OU forced at least three takeaways since forcing a trio in the 2017 Bedlam road game.

After each turnover, the OU defense lifted a fist up in solidarity to celebrate the takeaway. It’s something that Grinch brought with him from Washington State.

Imagine the Oklahoma offense getting at least two or three extra possessions each game. The Sooners had 14 points off turnovers against South Dakota.

Getting the first takeaway brought a sigh of relief to not only the fans, but the defense.

“It just felt like we couldn’t get one after a while, and we just kept going for it, kept going for it and finally got it,” linebacker DaShaun White said. “Then once we finally got it, it was like, ‘OK, now that the ice is sort of broken, let’s keep going.’”

Perfection is the aim

Oklahoma jumped to a 49-0 lead midway through the third quarter before swapping touchdowns with the Coyotes.

Much of South Dakota’s offense came after that point. The Coyotes ended with 348 yards of total offense, with 231 yards coming after facing a seven-touchdown deficit.

It wasn’t the yards that bothered Grinch, it was the two touchdowns allowed that stung. South Dakota was able to put together back-to-back 75-yard scoring drives against a group of OU reserves.

Grinch was asked if he was disappointed that there wasn’t a shutout.

“I’m disappointed any time there’s a scoring play. I’m not going to stop being disappointed. I don’t care who is out there,” Grinch said. “Give them credit for finding a way to get into the end zone a couple of times tonight. There’s an opportunity out there for somebody to make that obviously somehow, some way, we didn’t.

“But depth is coaching. We have to do a better job coaching those guys and bringing them along.”

Rushing attack

The Sooners rushed for 310 yards, which to be fair is a number expected against an FCS opponent.

The key part was getting carries for newcomers Rhamondre Stevenson and Marcus Major. Stevenson ended with a team-high 104 yards on six carries (including an explosive 75-yard touchdown run). Major had five carries for 12 yards.

Stevenson on his first two games: “Of course, there were definitely a little bit of nerves, but now that I’m two games in, got a couple carries, picked up a few blocks, I’m good.”

Kennedy Brooks said Stevenson’s long run will boost the junior college transfer’s confidence.

“Now you know what you’re capable of. You know you can outrun people, so like, you’re not even worried about people behind you,” Brooks said. “You’re not worried about getting caught. You’re just gonna rip it now. More touches and more confidence is gonna help him in the long run.”

Brooks had 69 yards, while Trey Sermon added 56. Quarterback Jalen Hurts had 47 yards including a strong 36-yard gallop.

Final word

Oklahoma will play at UCLA at 7 p.m. Saturday. The game will be broadcast on FOX. UCLA lost 23-14 to visiting San Diego State over the weekend.

Eric Bailey 918-581-8391


Twitter: @ericbaileyTW

Sports Writer

Eric covers the University of Oklahoma football and men’s basketball teams. A Haskell Indian Nations University graduate, he has been a member of the Tulsa World sports staff for 12 years. Phone: 918-581-8391