By John Shinn
LUBBOCK, Texas — Oklahoma didn’t turn green, but it did have a Hulk-like performance on Saturday.
A two-week rage that had been building after a stunning home loss to Kansas State and an 11-month long fury over a stunning home loss to Texas Tech brought an angry team to Jones AT&T Stadium. The result was a 41-20 OU victory that was unlike anything it had shown in the first three games of the season.
“I think we had so much backed up into us from last year as a team. We were coming off a loss and this was a must-win,” OU safety Tony Jefferson said about what fueled OU to its most impressive performance through the first four games.
Everything clicked from the moment the toe met the leather.
OU scored touchdowns on five of its first seven offensive possessions and ran roughshod in a venue it had not won at since 2003.
Quarterback Landry Jones threw for 259 yards and a pair of touchdowns, backup quarterback Blake Bell rushed for a pair of touchdowns and safety Javon Harris returned the last of OU’s three interceptions 46 yards for a touchdown.
The Sooners (3-1, 1-1 Big 12) looked like a different team than the one that was stunned by Kansas State two weeks or appeared sluggish in its first two games.
Jones shouldered much of the criticism for the slow start to the season. He deflected the credit on Saturday.
“I thought we played a good game and came out there and played the way we are capable of playing,” he said. “I thought the offensive line really did a good job, especially in the run game, getting some movement, and that kind of loosened everything up for the pass game.”
Jones completed passes to seven different receivers and five of them had at least 26 receiving yards. Running back Damien Williams led the way with six catches for 82 yards to go along with 48 yards on the ground.
All the ground work was laid in OU’s opening drive. Jones completed passes to four different receivers and OU rushed for 37 yards.
“Just had a good balance between the run game and Landry pitching it. He pitched some bubbles and kind of opened the box a little bit,” center Gabe Ikard said. “I thought we had a really great plan, a really strong plan, going into this game.”
Texas Tech (4-1, 1-1) had rolled over four straight — Northwestern State, Texas State, New Mexico and Iowa State — to start the season. Statistically, Tech walked onto the field leading the nation in total defense. The Sooners amassed 380 yards, but seemed to do whatever they wanted.
“They were fresh. They were quick. They were fast,” Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said. “A lot quicker than I thought they would be. They made plays, and we dug ourselves a hole we couldn’t get out of.”
The Sooners helped create it. The Red Raiders answered OU’s opening touchdown with Kenny Williams’ 7-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter. They even grabbed a 10-7 lead on Ryan Bustin’s field goal early in the second quarter.
Momentum belonged to the Sooners the rest of the way.
Bell busted into the end zone to give OU the lead for good with 11 minutes left in the first half. Jones hit Kenny Stiils for a 13-yard touchdown and Michael Hunnticutt added a 33-yard field goal in the first half’s final seconds.
The 24-13 halftime lead marked the first time OU had led at the midway point in Lubbock since 2003. Nothing changed in the second half. Another touchdown run by Bell and Harris’ interception put the game away.
The Sooners, who gave up 41 points to the Red Raiders last season at Owen Field, didn’t allow Texas Tech into the end zone again until there was less than a minute to play. By then, OU starters were resting on the bench. The chip the unit had firmly planted on its shoulder was still there.
“We wanted to come out here, and it was somewhat of a revenge, I would say, as far as what happened last year and how they torched our defense,” said cornerback Aaron Colvin, whose acrobatic interception set up Bell’s second touchdown run and tipped the pass Harris returned for a touchdown.
“We prided ourselves on playing hard every play, and not letting the same results happen that happened last year.”