Saturday night couldn't have gone any better for second-ranked Oklahoma.
Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops didn't have much to complain about after the game as his offense rolled up 549 total yards while the defense gave up only 126 yards and returned two interceptions for touchdowns in the Sooners' 68-0 blowout win over Texas El-Paso.
The only thing that could stop the Sooners on this night was the weather, and it did just that with late in the first quarter when the game was delayed for 51 minutes because of thunderstorms.
"I like the fact that we played a good solid game and corrected some basic fundamental mistakes from the last game," said Stoops, who is now 34-7 in his fourth season at Oklahoma. "It's a good sign of progress. It's good to see us execute well and play like we should regardless of our opponent."
Nate Hybl, who started his first game of the 2002 season after the season-ending knee injury to Jason White, picked up where he left off last week against Alabama by completing 13-of-22 passes for 278 yards in just over two quarters.
Hybl helped the Sooners get on the board on the second play from scrimmage when he threw a 56-yard touchdown pass to Antwone Savage.
"Nate played very well," said Stoops. "That doesn't surprise me. He throws the ball well and made some big plays. He's very sound and solid. We're proud of him."
Sophomore defensive back Antonio Perkins then returned an interception 50-yards midway through the first quarter to give Oklahoma a 14-0 lead and the rout was on.
Oklahoma came back from the delay and poured in 24 points in the second quarter to take a 38-0 lead at the half.
The Sooners responded with more of the same in the third quarter with a 38-yard field goal by Trey DiCalro and touchdown runs by Kejuan Jones and Quentin Griffin. Griffin had two touchdown runs on the day and finished with 108 yards on 16 carries. Jones carried the ball 11 times for 73 yards.
"We treated it like it was halftime," said Stoops of the delay. "We made some adjustments and got some things straight. Instead of sitting around, we stretched and kept them moving. The players were excited about playing in the rain and mud. I like how we came out of the locker room ready to play."
The starters gave way to the reserves for most of the fourth quarter and it was a trio of true freshman shined.
Michael Hawkins, a true freshman from Carrollton, Texas, intercepted the first pass of his career and returned it 45-yards to paydirt to give the Sooners a 62-0 lead.
Freshman quarterback Paul Thompson saw his first action of his career and played well completing 6-of-10 passes for 56 yards. Thompson hooked up with another true freshman, Travis Wilson, for the Sooners' final score of the game on an 11-yard touchdown pass.
"Playing Paul Thompson was necessary," said Stoops. "We felt like it was the right thing to do. The reason to play him was to get him experience. He needs experience handling the ball, as well as being able to throw it, read plays and make checks. I like what he did."
"College football is a lot different than high school and you could probably tell I was nervous when I first went in," said Thompson. "I was so excited to play today and really wanted to get a touchdown in my first game. The offensive line did a great job while I was in there."
UTEP Head Coach Gary Nord was impressed with what he saw from Oklahoma.
"Oklahoma has an outstanding football team," said UTEP Head Coach Gary Nord. "I thought that the rain was going to help us out. They are so talented and have so much speed that we could not match up with them speed-wise. Bob Stoops and his staff have done an outstanding job and I think that they are one of the top teams in the country this year."
"It's a good win," said Stoops. "It's good for our chemistry. I told the guys earlier that I didn't care who we were playing this week; the bottom line was we need to execute better and concentrate. We have to play to our potential. We understand that we'll get to see bigger and more physical people as we go."
OU-UTEP Box Score
Oklahoma's 68 points were the most-ever scored under Bob Stoops and the 549 total offensive yards by the Sooners tonight were the third most in the Stoops' era. The previous best total for points was 63 against Texas in 2000 and 557 yards vs. Baylor in 1999.
Oklahoma recorded its second shutout of the season in front of 74,468 fans at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. The last time OU had two shutouts in its first three games of the season was in 1987 (28-0 over North Carolina and 65-0 over Tulsa).
With 278 yards against Texas El-Paso, quarterback Nate Hybl moved into fifth on the Sooner career passing yardage list with 2,911. He trails Josh Heupel (6,852), Cale Gundy (6,142), Bobby Warmack (3,3517) and Jack Mildren (3,015).
Climbing the charts
Senior running back Quentin Griffin moved into 10th on the OU career rushing list with 108 yards tonight. His 2,220 rushing yards eclipsed the 2,120 yards amassed by former Sooner Clendon Thomas (1955-1957).