Sooners take care of business against Tigers

Oklahoma running back Renaldo Works leaps over Missouri defender James Kinney, left, and teammate J.D. Runnels, bottom, for a touchdown in the first quarter of OU's 34-13 win over the Tigers Saturday in Norman. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

NORMAN, Okla. — Top-ranked Oklahoma's win over Missouri Saturday in Norman pretty much went as expected if you're a Sooner fan.

Oklahoma's defense dominated, Jason White padded his Heisman stats and Antonio Perkins returned another punt for a touchdown as the Sooners improved to 7-0 overall and 3-0 in Big 12 play with a 34-13 win over Missouri.

"When you can have a good, solid win in the Big 12, you take it," said Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops, who earned the 50th win of his head coaching career. "Missouri is a very strong team, a team ranked in the top 25. They came in 5-1 with a big win over Nebraska. They played like a very strong team and I want to compliment them."

"That's a good football team they have out there," said Missouri Head Coach Gary Pinkel. "Standing on the sidelines you really get a feel of just how good and just how much speed they have. They're a team without weaknesses. They were ready to play after a big week with Texas which I knew (OU Coach) Bobby (Stoops) would do."

Oklahoma jumped out to an early 10-3 on a Trey DiCarlo 19-yard field goal at the 11:55 mark, but the Tigers roared right back behind Missouri quarterback Brad Smith. Smith scampered 26-yards for a touchdown to tie the game game at 10-10 with 9:40 to go in the first half, and with it bring back nightmares of a possible repeat performance from a year ago against the Sooners in Columbia.

But from that point on the Sooners would have no more of Smith and Missouri's act as they reeled off 21 consecutive points in the last seven minutes of the first half end the Tigers' upset hopes.

Jason White jump-started OU's second quarter surge with two touchdown passes on back-to-back drives to Mark Clayton and JeJuan Rankins. White's play-action bomb to Clayton for 39-yards gave the Sooners the lead for good at 17-10, and his 30-yarder to Rankins put the Sooners up 24-10 with 2:40 to go in the half.

Oklahoma's defense quickly forced another Missouri punt, and that's when Perkins broke the game open and made NCAA history with a 69-yard punt return that gave OU a 31-10 halftime edge.

"They ran off 21 points in a seven-minute span in the second quarter," Pinkel said. "We didn't handle it very well. We didn't handle the emotion and the intensity of an impact play. They did a good job. They can strike fast and hard. Most teams they put 60 on."

On the return, Perkins' tied the NCAA single-season (4) and career (7) mark for touchdown returns.

"Coach Stoops told me to just figure out which direction the ball was going and try to beat the ball there," said Perkins, who ranks second behind Jarrail Jackson on OU's all-time career return yardage list with 1,136 career punt return yards. "I was just watching the kicker and took off once the ball was kicked. I thought that if I touched it, something was going to happen."

"What a special young man," Stoops said of Perkins. "He just has an incredible ability and showed it again tonight. You just hold your breath every time he has it."

The Oklahoma defense also did their part by shutting down Smith, who torched the Sooner defense for 213 rushing yards last year in Columbia. Smith was sacked five times and held to just 50 yards on 17 carries. And most of that damage was done in the first half when Missouri rolled up almost 200 yards of total offense. The Tigers finished with 266 yards of total offense.

"It was tough to contain him," said senior linebacker Teddy Lehman. "We had a rough first half, but came back and did good in the second half. It's difficult against him because you have to play the pass and the run at the same time. If you tackle good and keep him contained, it's not that big of deal."

"We couldn't do anything against their defense," said Pinkel. "We had a chance to make some plays. A couple of times we get down inside the red zone but somebody up front would make a play and knock us back 10 yards. That's what great defenses do. That happened three or four times."

Offensively, it was status quo for White and the Sooners. Although the Oklahoma offense failed to score 50 points for the fifth straight game, it was another solid effort for White and Co.

In all, the Oklahoma offense racked up 424 yards of total offense. And White, in addition to his two touchdown passes, completed 20 of his 34 pass attempts for 278 yards.

White's new favorite target - receiver Mark Clayton — continued to move up the all-time receiving charts with his eight catch, 110-yard performance. Clayton's touchdown reception in the second quarter moved him into third place on the all-time career receiving touchdown list. The junior from Arlington, also jumped from ninth to fifth on the all-time receptions list.

"He's just about caught everything that has been thrown to him," said White, Clayton. "He makes the offense look good by catching everything. Sometimes the ball isn't perfect and he comes up with the grab. He's a great player and keeps on improving every week."

Overall, Stoops was pleased with the win, despite the lackluster offensive performance in the second half.

"You're not going to score 50 points every game," said Stoops. "It's not always going to look easy. Every team you play has good people, so you don't get too picky."

"We made some big plays tonight which we have been making. The defense was great. We settled down and really limited almost everything that they did the second half. The offense was a little better in the first half than the second. Everything isn't going to be perfect every time."

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