In its first true road test, Oklahoma received its first true test on the field, but behind freshman running back Samaje Perine, the Sooners remained undefeated with an 45-33 victory against West Virginia in the Big 12 Conference opener for both teams Saturday.
Perine finished with 34 carries for 242 yards and four touchdowns, becoming the first Oklahoma running back to eclipse 100 rushing yards since 2013. He was the first to break 200 yards since 2010. In No. 1 running back Keith Ford’s absence, Perine carried the load as the Sooners picked up just one first down on drives when Perine was not in the game.
Running back Alex Ross, who had a 100-yard kick-off return touchdown, started the game, but Perine took control in the second half behind a rejuvenated offensive line. Oklahoma rushed for a 301 yards as a team.
Perine set a career high in carries, yards and touchdowns. Before Saturday, Perine had scored just once in his career – albeit through just three games.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops became the first coach to win 100 Big 12 Conference games with the victory, and Oklahoma kicker Michael Hunnicutt became the Sooners’ all-time leading scorer with 392 career points, passing former running back DeMarco Murray.
Perine became the first Oklahoma freshman to run for more than 200 yards since Adrian Peterson in 2004 and posted the second-highest total by an Oklahoma true freshman – trailing just Peterson’s record of 249.
Saturday definitely proved to be a test for the Sooners, who failed to score on its opening drive and allowed an opponent to score in the first quarter for the first time all season. Oklahoma also trailed for the first time this year before Perine’s second touchdown gave the Sooners a lead they didn’t relinquish.
Quarterback Trevor Knight went 19-for-29 for 205 yards, leading an offense that took much of the first half to find a rhythm. The Sooners’ defense, which allowed just three points in the second half before West Virginia scored with a little more than two minutes remaining, kept Oklahoma in the game by allowing just four first downs through the first six drives.