In their first big test of the season, the Sooners certainly stepped up to the occasion, as they dominated 17th-ranked Florida State in a 47-17 final this past weekend.
"Today was pleasing, I guess, overall," said head coach Bob Stoops. "Offensively, we took care of the football, good balance, and defensively, after the first drive we really settled in and played great football. Special teams, I thought was excellent all day. So it was a good solid game overall."
It marked a rematch of the 2001 Orange Bowl, which Oklahoma won to capture its most recent national championship. The Sooners, who opened the season with a lackluster 31-24 win over Utah State, have now won 32 straight games at home and they are looking to add to the nation's longest run this weekend.
Air Force meanwhile, comes to Norman fresh off a 35-14 victory over BYU last weekend. It was the Mountain West Conference opener for the Falcons, who snapped a six-game slide to BYU. Just like Oklahoma, Air Force is now 2-0, having opened the season with a 65-21 rout of Northwestern State.
The only other time these two programs clashed on the gridiron was in 2001, when the defending national champion Sooners posted a 44-3 win at Falcon Stadium.
After the first two weeks, Air Force leads the nation in rushing and by a lot, averaging 423 ypg, which is over 90 ypg more than any other squad in the country. A variety of players have had their impact on the ground attack, which has accounted for 11 TDs. Asher Clark has led the team in rushing each game thus far, including a 121-yard effort last weekend versus BYU, and he has displayed a nice combination of quickness and power. Jared Tew is tied with Clark for the most carries on the year and he ranks second with 142 rushing yards through two games. He, however, is listed as questionable with a hand injury.
QB Tim Jefferson is a threat on the ground as well, rushing for three TDs thus far, but he also has the arm to keep opposing defenses honest. The third-year starter won't get many chances to throw in Air Force's option attack, so its imperative he makes the most of his opportunities. So far, so good, as Jefferson has passed for 247 yards with three TDs and one pick after two games.
Following a slow start, Air Force's defense turned it on and held BYU without a point over the final three frames.
"I just thought our defense was absolutely special today," stated head coach Troy Calhoun, whose club also pitched a second-half shutout in the season opener. "After the initial drive, we probably played as well defensively against Brigham Young as we have maybe ever."
The Falcons even limited BYU to a mere 88 yards passing, marking the first time since 2003 that the Cougars finished with less than 100 yards through the air. Air Force came up with three takeaways as well, and the team was guided by Andre Morris, who posted four tackles and a pair of forced fumbles.
The Sooners seized quick control of last weekend's highly anticipated matchup, scoring TDs on their first four drives on the way to a 47-17 blasting of Florida State. After a forgettable opening game performance, QB Landry Jones was remarkable versus the Seminoles, throwing for 380 yards and four TDs on 30-of-40 pass attempts.
"He is a sharp guy, I say it a lot, but he is a great worker, has a great attitude about improving, and wants to be coached," said Stoops.
Jones did a nice job spreading out the ball, as 12 different players caught at least one pass. Leading the way was Ryan Broyles, who had 12 receptions for 124 yards and a TD. Broyles posted 142 yards and two scores in the opener and is clearly the go-to target for Jones.
After rolling up 208 yards and two TDs on the ground against Utah State, Demarco Murray was held in check last weekend with just 51 yards and two scores on 16 attempts. Murray is regarded as one of the top backs in the nation and his presence certainly helped open up the passing attack against Florida State.
The Sooners gave up a TD to Florida State in the opening quarter, but that would be the last time the Seminoles had any success until the game was well out of hand. Following that TD, Oklahoma forced seven punts and snared two INTs in Florida State next nine possessions.
"We had a real slow start but after the second series, we were clicking as a defense. Everyone doing their part took all of the guys just running for the ball and getting out there," stated FS Quinton Carter, who led the team with seven tackles.
Creating pressure and turnovers has been a strength of this defense, which has recorded seven sacks and the same amount of takeaways through two games. Jeremy Beal leads the club with 4.5 TFLs and 2.5 sacks, while Jamell Fleming has tallied an INT in each game.
The Sooners have been unbeatable at home over the years and that trend should continue this weekend. Oklahoma simply has too many weapons for Air Force to account for and should pull away for the victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oklahoma 44, Air Force 17