8:00 PM ET, November 1, 2008
Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, NORMAN, OK
Cornhuskers turn ball over on first three passes, and No. 4 Sooners roll
NORMAN, Okla. -- From the moment Nebraska lined up, Oklahoma cornerback Dominique Franks knew exactly what was coming.
By the time he and his Sooners teammates were done with their dominating start, the Cornhuskers didn't know what hit them.
Home Sweet Home
Oklahoma owns the nation's longest active home winning streak, winning 23 straight and 43 of its last 44. The Sooners are 59-2 at home under Bob Stoops and haven't lost a conference home game since Nov. 24, 2001 vs. Oklahoma State.
|* -- Ended Saturday|
Sam Bradford threw for 311 yards and five touchdowns and No. 4 Oklahoma capitalized on three disastrous Nebraska pass plays in the opening minutes Saturday night to the beat the Huskers 62-28.
The Sooners' scoring outburst was their biggest in the history of the storied rivalry.
"We just really came out firing, really with everybody," Sooners coach Bob Stoops said. "I thought our guys really were focused in and came out and couldn't have executed much better in all parts of the game. ... It's a good way to start a big game."
• Sam Bradford threw five touchdown passes for the fourth time this season, and Oklahoma scored more points than it ever has against Nebraska.
• After losing seven straight, the Sooners have now won five of their last six against the Cornhuskers.
• Nebraska lost its 12th straight game to a top-10 opponent and turned the ball over three times in its first five possessions.
• Oklahoma has scored at least 35 points in every game this season.
-- ESPN research
It was the kind of start that would make Nebraska fans long for the power-running days of the past, and the stars of the Cornhuskers' "Game of the Century" win in 1971 just happened to be on hand for a reunion.
This game was hardly another classic in a rivalry full of them.
Franks intercepted Joe Ganz's first pass attempt and returned it 18 yards for a touchdown, and the Huskers (5-4, 2-3 Big 12) also had turnovers on each of their next two passes as the Sooners (8-1, 4-1) raced to a 28-0 lead in the first 5½ minutes.
"I've been in a lot of games. I've seen it happen," Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. "The snowball started rolling on us, and we didn't do anything to get it stopped."
Oklahoma had never scored more than 55 points in 83 previous meetings with Nebraska dating back to 1912, but got more than halfway to that total in less than half a quarter.
Chris Brown got it started by capping a seven-play, 53-yard opening drive with a 2-yard touchdown run and only 4 seconds ticked off the clock before Franks, a cornerback, stepped in front of Ganz's screen pass behind the line of scrimmage and took it in for another score.
Franks said the Huskers had a "real big tendency" to run the screen play out of that single-back, two wide receiver formation and he'd imagined making that kind of interception in days leading up to the game.
"I just jumped it," Franks said. "I got a chance and I just made a play."
Then coincidence turned into absurdity. I-back Marlon Lucky reached up to deflect Ganz's next pass high into the air, and Lendy Holmes picked it off and returned it 26 yards. Bradford made it 28-0 on the next play by zipping a 9-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Gresham, and there was still 9:27 left to play in the first quarter.
By that point, Nebraska had run five offensive plays and committed three turnovers.
"You can get all over somebody pretty quick and jump on them. It's big obviously," defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. "It gets them on their heels. It creates momentum, it creates points. It gets things a lot more comfortable out of the gate."
Pelini, a former defensive coordinator under Stoops and at Nebraska and LSU, took the blame for a "lousy" defensive performance and didn't allow his players to speak to reporters after the game.
"I'm responsible for what happened out there," Pelini said. "I'm the voice of this team. I told our guys, `Oklahoma's over. We're moving on.'"
Brown tacked on a 1-yard TD catch on the final offensive play of the first quarter, giving Oklahoma a 35-0 lead. It was the first time Nebraska had ever given up more than 28 points in any quarter.
"We didn't expect it, but at the same time we were just ready to play," Holmes said. "We knew this was a rival game. You can't be relaxing out there and just playing. You've got to play hard because you know they're going to come out here and play hard."
Bradford went 19-for-27 and cleared 300 yards passing for the seventh time this season. It was the sixth time he tied the school record with five touchdown passes in a game.
After letting Kansas State come back from a 28-7 lead to tie the game in the first half last week, the Sooners led by at least 28 for the final 50 minutes of the game.
"We saw last week how scores can change," Murray said. "We've just got to keep putting the pedal down and keep trying to stay focused."
Backup I-back Roy Helu ran 16 times for 157 yards and a touchdown for Nebraska, but all after the Huskers fell behind 35-0. Ganz finished 14-for-26 for 206 yards with one touchdown pass and the two early picks.
"Obviously, that wasn't what we wanted and it hurts," Pelini said. "The reality of it is if you coach in this game long enough, you play in this game long enough, you're going to face situations like this. Nobody likes it, but you have to move on."
Oklahoma defensive end Auston English, the Big 12 preseason defensive player of the year, was helped off the field in the third quarter and did not return after trainers taped up his leg. Sooners receiver Manuel Johnson, who'd missed last week's game at Kansas State after dislocating his left elbow, played only the opening series.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Sam Bradford found Chris Brown on a 1-yard TD pass with 0:04 left in the first quarter for a 35-0 lead.
Gameball goes to... Bradford. The Oklahoma QB was 19-of-27 for 311 yards and 5 TDs in the 62-38 rout.
Stat of the game... 35. Oklahoma has scored at least 35 points in every game this season.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||5-12||7-13|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||1-1|
|TD||12:17||Chris Brown 2 Yd Run (Jimmy Stevens Kick)||0||7|
|TD||12:13||Dominique Franks 18 Yd Interception Return (Jimmy Stevens Kick)||0||14|
|TD||10:31||Quentin Chaney 48 Yd Pass From Sam Bradford (Jimmy Stevens Kick)||0||21|
|TD||09:27||Jermaine Gresham 9 Yd Pass From Sam Bradford (Jimmy Stevens Kick)||0||28|
|TD||00:04||Chris Brown 1 Yd Pass From Sam Bradford (Jimmy Stevens Kick)||0||35|
|TD||11:20||Quentin Castille 2 Yd Run (Alex Henery Kick)||7||35|
|TD||08:06||Demarco Murray 3 Yd Run (Jimmy Stevens Kick)||7||42|
|TD||04:24||Roy Helu Jr. 14 Yd Run (Alex Henery Kick)||14||42|
|TD||02:56||Demarco Murray 8 Yd Run (Jimmy Stevens Kick)||14||49|
|TD||11:34||Nate Swift 8 Yd Pass From Joe Ganz (Alex Henery Kick)||21||49|
|TD||09:30||Jermaine Gresham 11 Yd Pass From Sam Bradford (Jimmy Stevens Kick)||21||56|
|TD||00:44||Demarco Murray 25 Yd Pass From Sam Bradford (Pat Blocked)||21||62|
|TD||00:21||Patrick Witt 16 Yd Run (Alex Henery Kick)||28||62|