OU Overcomes Early Sluggishness, Beats MU

NORMAN, Okla. — Not every victory is pretty, and that certainly was the case as the No. 1 Sooners sloppily skated by the Missouri Tigers 38-28 in front of 85,547 Saturday night at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.

The defense allowed a ridiculous 532 yards, the Sooners had a minus-2 turnover margin, and they got down 14-3 out of the gates, but they were still able to storm back for the victory.

"As always, I'd like to start off by definitely giving compliments to Missouri," said OU head coach Bob Stoops. "They played a well-fought, good football game. They are a good football team. We knew that coming in and watching the way they played a year ago, but also coming into this year.They've got a lot of excellent players and do an excellent job coaching. I'm really pleased with 38-28. I think both teams can say, ‘We had our moments. We did well.'

"There are things you wish you would have done better. That's how it's going to be when you play another good football team. They had theirs. We had ours. Fortunately, over the long haul, we were able to come back from a deficit early, get a decent lead and finish it off. Again, good hard-fought game. I'm pleased with the victory, always."

Perhaps the only reason why OU was able to mount a comeback from its early 11-point deficit was because outside of two interceptions thrown by quarterback Landry Jones, the Sooner offense basically had its way with Missouri's defense.

OU amassed 592 total yards, as Jones threw for 448 yards and three touchdowns, all three of those to slot receiver Ryan Broyles, completing 35-of-48 passes.

Running backs Dominique Whaley, Brennan Clay and the rest of the ground game combined for 144 rushing yards.

All the while, OU's defense struggled to say the least.

Quarterback James Franklin and the rest of the Mizzou offense jacked OU in the jaw early with a seven-play, 76-yard drive that spanned 2:23 and was capped off by Franklin's 1-yard touchdown run.

And although the OU offense settled in for the majority of the contest, it was sluggish out of the gates as well.

"For whatever reason, we all came out, offensively we can't get a first down, defense they go right down the field," Stoops said.

A three-and-out preceded Mizzou's first scoring drive, and OU's bad start continued when Jones threw an ill-advised pass deep down the middle intended for wide receiver DeJuan Miller that was picked off, the first of his two interceptions.

Later, after place kicker Michael Hunnicutt hit a 31-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 7-3, the Sooners' early sluggishness lingered even more.

On a bust over the middle, one of many on the day, Franklin found a wide open L'Damian Washington for the 47-yard strike and score.

"I don't know how difficult it is to defend," said defensive coordinator Brent Venables. "It's going to be real difficult if we don't execute.

That made it 14-3 Mizzou.

But OU, on a gut check drive, bounced back quickly and drove 80 yards in just 1:47, as Jones found slot receiver Ryan Broyles for the 24-yard touchdown.

"They came out and scored two touchdowns on us, we didn't put our head down, you know," Broyles said. "We needed to just continue to grind it out. We knew it was going to be a four quarter game, and just get points on the board and just chip away at it."

For awhile after that, it was all Sooners.

One of the game-changing plays was when Jones hit wide receiver Jaz Reynolds 39 yards down the sideline.

"It was a big momentum switch," Stoops said. "It's third down and he catches it on a go route. He did a nice job. The guy was holding the outside edge to give himself room to catch it, and Landry threw a great ball."

That set the stage for a 4-yard touchdown pass from Jones to Broyles, their second hookup which gave OU its first lead of the game at 17-14.

Minutes later, Jones snuck it in for another touchdown to cap off a six-play, 70-yard drive that lasted just 1:18, and give OU a 24-14 advantage, one it would take into intermission.

OU didn't skip a beat to start the second half, as it extended its lead midway through the third quarter when running back Dominique Whaley made a shifty move along the left boundary on a sideline pass from Jones and scampered 19 yards down inside the five.

Whaley scored on the next play, a 3-yard touchdown run.

"Dom is a solid, good player," Stoops said. "Running the ball, but as you saw, catching the ball. He's got excellent hands, getting yards after he catches it, strong on our boundary, stays in bounds, stays on his feet and gets another 10-15 yards. He's a good football player. The more he's out there, the more he's out there and used to the action, he's going to, I think, continue to make improvements."

But the Sooners' defensive struggles continued, especially in the fourth quarter when they allowed two more touchdowns.

First, Mizzou running back Henry Josey busted loose 48 yards to pay dirt, chipping OU's lead to 31-21 with 6:44 remaining.

Jones and Broyles connected again for their third touchdown of the game, another 4-yard score with 3:35 left, before Franklin and the Tigers hit them again.

With just 32 seconds to go, Franklin finished a 10-play, 73-yard drive with his second 1-yard touchdown sneak of the game.

"Horrible, disappointed, relaxed, it's what happens," said linebacker Travis Lewis. "Everybody is disappointed, coaches and players. We gave them 530 yards. We played like a 25th-, 30th- ranked team. We are not the number one ranked team in the nation right now."

That concluded the scoring in what was a very poor defensive game both ways.

Teams combined for more than 1,100 yards and 56 first downs, along with nine touchdowns.

Broyles finished with 13 catches for 154 yards and three touchdowns.

For Mizzou, Franklin was 16-of-33 for 291 yards and a touchdown.

Wide receiver T.J. Moe had 119 yards on seven receptions.

Josey managed 133 yards--that's right at his season average--on 14 rushes, while Franklin also ran for 103.

The Sooners (3-0, 1-0 Big 12) will await Ball State at 6 p.m. CT, while Mizzou will have an off week before heading to Manhattan, Kan., to take on the Kansas State Wildcats.

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