MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The opening weekend of the season saw Football Championship Subdivision teams beat reigning Big 12 champion Kansas State and Iowa State and put a scare into West Virginia. The most surprising score might have been a ranked team winning with a shutout at home.
Yet No. 16 Oklahoma's 34-0 victory against Louisiana-Monroe was nevertheless alarming. The Warhawks were named co-favorites to win the competitive Sun Belt conference. Eight starters on offense are back from the team that beat Arkansas and only lost to Auburn and Baylor by a combined eight points last season and quarterback Kolton Browning was named the preseason offensive player of the year.
The Sooners, who host WVU (1-0) at 7 p.m. Saturday at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on Fox, held the Warhawks to 166 yards of offense and nine first downs on just 61 plays.
"Everyone talked about how this was their year compared to a year ago because they're more mature, and I do respect Louisiana-Monroe as an offensive team, so it was pleasing to play so well," Sooners coach Bob Stoops said. "What I was really pleased about was how our communication and our adjustments and all of that for the most part were as good as we've had in a long time.
"We had very few mistakes and communication problems and adjustment problems and those kind of things. The players did a great job of being where they needed to be."
Oklahoma had major defensive problems late last season. They allowed 458 yards rushing and 778 yards of offense in a 50-49 win against WVU, 490 yards and 48 points in a three-point win against Oklahoma State and 327 yards passing and 307 yards rushing in a 41-13 loss to Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl.
"They made some changes, unfortunately for us," Mountaineers Coach Dana Holgorsen said.
"They had a tremendous amount of speed on the field. They seemed a lot more aggressive with a lot more attacking and blitzing. They were a little bit more aggressive with their coverage.
"It's not surprising. I understand coach Stoops and what they've been able to accomplish defensively the last couple of decades. They look fast, the look good and they look aggressive."
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WVU STARTED the week as a 191/2-point underdog, the largest margin they've been predicted to lose by since a 221/2-point spread on the road against then-No. 2 Miami in 2003. The Mountaineers nearly won the game thanks to running back Quincy Wilson's memorable catch-and-run touchdown, but the Hurricanes won 22-20 on a last-second field goal.
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HOLGORSEN SAID Monday junior Paul Millard will start again against Oklahoma, but that he hasn't given up on using two quarterbacks. Junior Clint Trickett will continue to receive a large share of snaps in practice and Holgorsen maintained the possibility he'll use Trickett against the Sooners.