Two old powers in College Football, but not really in the same place right now in terms of quality and also ambitions. Oklahoma didn’t have too much trouble beating an SEC team in Tennessee, coming away with a 34-10 victory in which they easily got points through Trevor Knight and made it a nightmarish game for Justin Worley.
The Tennessee quarterback completed 21-of-44 passes and was intercepted twice, including one that was returned for 100 yards by Julian Wilson in the fourth quarter for a touchdown that clinched the game. Tennessee made noises of coming back in the second half from time to time, but that final mistake by Worley made it impossible for the Vols to even dream about somehow turning the game on its head.
He was knocked down, hurried or sacked on 40% of his drop backs. He ended up being sacked five times, one of those leading to a fumble. The Sooners also turned the ball over a bit too much – twice (including one interception by Knight) but for all of the improvements Butch Jones has talked about when it comes to his team’s defense, there’s really nothing worth comparing between the two teams, almost in two different spheres of execution right now.
The Sooners continued their tradition of blasting away at their opponents in the first quarter. They scored 13 unanswered points in this one and are 55-0 this season during the first 15 minutes of games. They gained 454 yards in total, including 308 passing yards by Knight. He threw one touchdown pass and also ran for another, as the Sooners gained 146 yards on 34 carries in the win. Sterling Shepard, with five receptions for 109 yards, was stellar as before, but the touchdown reception went to Keith Ford, who also rushed for 56 yards.
Tennessee made attempts of coming back by throwing deep, but Worley had a rough night in that area as well. He completed just 29.4% of passes that went 10 or more yards downfield, the second worst performance of his career in that aspect. The Sooners were ranked third in the Big 12 in that category heading into the game, and have held their opponents to completing just 31.1% with one touchdown when attempting passes to that distance.
Tennessee did make it out with some respect after making things a bit more competitive in the second half, but this isn’t the big goal for a program with a huge fan base and a rich history. The final goal is to be like Oklahoma and other programs that get ranked automatically in the top 10 just because of their name. That used to be the norm for the Vols, but it’s a long climb back up that mountain, and it’ll take performances much better than this one to change the way of things.
For Oklahoma, beating an SEC team is probably special, even if it wasn’t exactly the cream of the crop. With nine conference games on the schedule from now on until the season is over, they’ve set themselves as the team to beat in the Big 12, although they know that it’s going to be a lot more harder down the road compared to what they’ve faced so far.