Home games are fun. Some home blowouts:
29. Oklahoma 56, West Virginia 14 – 2019
This was one of the dreaded 2019 Big Noon Kickoff games that people swear are part of the reason Oklahoma bailed for the SEC. And you know what, on that sleepy October afternoon, part of me may have been inclined to agree! I’m pretty sure this was a game that we had to get to early to see a friend do the 30-second pregame weather briefing for OU Nightly, which then means you’re in the stadium 90 minutes before kickoff. On the other hand, the game itself was quite enjoyable. The Sooners defense announced that they were ready to lead the team to another Big 12 title by bullying West Virginia starter and old friend Austin Kendall. Jalen Hurts did some big-time football without really needing to do big-time football. And it was a 28-14 game at the half that only got worse in the 3rd quarter. Memorably, West Virginia had a punt blocked in their own end zone to really drive the score up late. The nice thing about early games, as I surely thought later that afternoon, is that you have the rest of the day to watch football without being concerned for your own team.
28. Oklahoma 45, Texas 40 – 2016
Speaking of noon games, back in the days before Big Noon Saturday there was still a tradition for Red River to kick off in the early timeslot. As a freshman still getting used to noon games actually kicking off at 11:00, I was excited for this one. I was finally starting to fit in socially by early October 2016. Whereas I had had to scratch and claw to get an invite to watch the game against TCU the week before, this time I was confident in my invite to the Headington screening room to watch the Sooners in my first Red River game. I was also confident that Baker Mayfield would put on a show, regardless of if the defense could make any stops.
And yeah, the game was as advertised. I got an early start on my cordial hatred of the University of Texas. Dede Westbrook had three long touchdown grabs for the second weekend in a row along with a school-record 232 yards. In my mind, he went from “a guy struggling to be the team’s top receiver without Sterling Shepard” to “the best wide receiver in college football” on that day. And in the spirit of the mid-to-late-2010s Oklahoma Sooners, it was a wild nailbiter that went a full 60 minutes before we could all relax. This Big Ten guy was still getting used to 45-40 finals.
27. Oklahoma 63, FAU 14 – 2018
Junior year kicked off at home against non other than Lane Kiffin and the surging FAU owls. The narratives wrote themselves. Kiffin could trot out his new starting QB – none other than Chris Robison, a Sooner castoff who had left among rumors of bad blood. Who knew what the two of them could cook up after a whole summer? Maybe Oklahoma was still devastated from the Rose Bowl loss the year before. I was nervous, nervous, nervous.
And in front of a Big Noon Saturday crowd at Memorial Stadium, basking in the return of college football, my fears proved to be very unfounded. Kyler Murray turned out to the Second Coming, or maybe a little better. It was 28-0 after one quarter. It was a cakewalk. It was a fun cakewalk. And it was the beginning of a new tradition of hanging out at the combined apartment of James/Bradley/Moriah/Chandler before and after games. The next two years would be the golden era of going to OU games straight from that little apartment at the Reserve on Stinson.
26. Oklahoma 49, UCLA 21 – 2018
After the first game of the Kyler Murray era, there was the second game of the Kyler Murray. Once again the game was a Big Noon Saturday kickoff, but this time Gus and Joel were more prepared for the juggernaut that was the Oklahoma offense. Hell, if you watched this game, which was broadcast on a steamy, you would have thought that the Oklahoma defense was just as much of a juggernaut as the offense. Kenneth Murray looked like a budding star at linebacker in this game, and the defensive line had UCLA’s QB running for his life. Really, everything came up Sooner that day. The crowd was bumping in the “striped stadium”, it wasn’t too hot for football, and I was back watching other games at State Apartments by mid-afternoon. Great day.
Oklahoma 49, Texas Tech 27 – 2017
There were stretches as an undergrad where OU would enter their “October slump” and just be exhausting to watch. Especially on the defensive side of the ball, when this happened it made for long, stressful games. The October slump in 2017 was particularly exhausting. But I was still excited for this game – under the lights, Halloween weekend, against Texas Tech – before Elizabeth and I planned on heading off to a Halloween party at her brother frat that night. It was a chilly gametime atmosphere in Norman when we took our customary spot high in the student section by the 40 yard line. I even wore a sweatshirt to the game. What a luxury! For about 20 minutes of gametime, this looked like it would be yet another annoying, high-scoring slog of Big 12 action. But slowly, the Sooners got the edge on the Red Raiders defensively, and the Baker Mayfield to Ceedee Lamb hookup proved to be too much for Tech to keep up with. Elizabeth and I were out of the stadium well before the end of the game, and on to a fun night at the Triangle house.