Idaho State (0-1) at (13) Oklahoma (0-1)
Saturday, September 12th, 7:00 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Pat Taggart, Associate College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: The Oklahoma Sooners suffered a shocking loss on college football's opening weekend, and they will attempt to bounce back strong in Saturday's non-conference home clash with the Idaho State Bengals.
Nothing went right for Idaho State in an embarrassing 50-3 loss to Arizona State in the season opener. The Bengals are an FCS team, however, so they deserve credit for scheduling the likes of Arizona State and Oklahoma, rather than ridicule for getting manhandled in those contests.
Idaho State is a member of the Big Sky Conference. Last season, the club finished 1-11 overall, so expectations aren't exactly high.
Expectations were sky high for Oklahoma, however, as another run at the national title game seemed a strong possibility. Those hopes took a major hit last Saturday when the squad fell to BYU in a 14-13 final. In that game, reigning Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford, the quarterback of the Sooners, was knocked from the contest with a shoulder injury.
The Sooners, now ranked 13th in the country, won the Big 12 Conference championship in 2008 and had the opportunity to play for college football's ultimate prize despite the fact that they lost one game during the regular season. With that in mind, and considering the fact that it lost to a ranked team in BYU, Oklahoma still has plenty to play for.
With the setback, Oklahoma moved to 9-2 in season openers under Bob Stoops. In regard to the history of the program, the Sooners are 87-22-6 in season openers, including 43-13-1 when opening the season away from Norman. They are also 5-5 in season openers versus ranked opponents.
This game marks the first-ever meeting between Idaho State and Oklahoma on the gridiron, and the Bengals have only faced one other Big 12 team in their history.
One of the lone offensive highlights from the opener for Idaho State was a 55- yard field goal by Jarrett Huk, a career long for the placekicker. To put it mildly, the performance of the Bengal offense was horrendous, as the club finished with a grand total of four first downs and 37 yards. The ground attack netted minus-five yards on 27 attempts, as Arizona State spent the entire day in the ISU backfield.
Bengal quarterbacks threw four interceptions, including three by Kyle Blum on just 10 pass attempts. Russell Hill was also picked off in the tilt, and the two signal-callers connected on just 9-of-20 attempts for 42 yards. Clint Knickrehm carried the ball 15 times for 24 yards, and Idaho State finished the tilt with only one successful conversion on 13 third down tries.
Defensively, Idaho State didn't play as poorly as the final score suggests. The offense put the defense in bad situations all day, and the fact that ASU only finished with 407 total yards despite scoring 50 points is somewhat surprising. One of the four interceptions thrown by Bengal quarterbacks was returned for a score, so the defense can't be blamed for those seven points.
Shifting focus to Oklahoma, Bradford suffered a sprain to the AC joint in his right shoulder during the waning moments of the first half against BYU. Bradford could be seen on the sideline to start the second half in street clothes, his throwing shoulder in a sling. He will attempt to rehab the arm rather than opt for surgery, but don't expect the talented QB back for at least a month.
Landry Jones took over under center to start the second half and finished the contest completing 6-of-12 passes for 51 yards. Bradford was 10-of-14 for 96 yards and a touchdown in the first half. He became Oklahoma's all-time leading passer with his 96 yards last Saturday, giving the junior a career total of 7,937 yards. But that record is of little consolation.
"It was all on us," said Oklahoma running back Chris Brown after the loss. "When a guy like Sam goes down we have to step up. In this game we didn't. We killed ourselves with penalties. It hurt us at the beginning of the game and at the end of the game."
Brown gained 59 yards on 14 carries while DeMarco Murray rushed 10 times for 58 yards in the loss. There is little doubt that those two players will be leaned on heavily against Idaho State and in the weeks to come.
The Sooners got some more bad news when it was announced that star TE Jermaine Gresham will miss the season after undergoing knee surgery. Gresham was projected to be a first-round NFL Draft pick following a 2008 season in which he caught 66 balls for 950 yards and a team-high 14 TDs, but he opted for another year in college in an attempt to win the national title.
The Oklahoma defense produced four turnovers and four sacks in the loss to BYU, including a pair of interceptions. Stopping the run proved to be no problem at all, as the squad permitted a mere 28 yards to the Cougars on 33 rushing attempts. The Sooners did, however, surrender 329 passing yards on 26 completions.
BYU's game-winning touchdown drive covered 78 yards on 16 plays late in the fourth quarter, as the Oklahoma defense finally appeared to be tired. Afterall, the Cougars did keep possession of the ball for over 37 minutes.
Expect Oklahoma to bounce back with a resounding victory over Idaho State, which simply lacks the talent to win this game. The Sooners will score early and often, pounding the ball on the ground.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oklahoma 49, Idaho State 0
09/09 11:40:23 ET