NORMAN, Okla. (AP)—For Jason White and No. 2 Oklahoma, it was just like the good old days—before those two painful losses that ruined last season.
White was 21-for-31 for 238 yards and three touchdowns and the Sooners ended their first two-game losing streak since 1999 with a 40-24 victory over Bowling Green in their opener Saturday.
The Sooners’ last two games were losses in the Big 12 championship and the Sugar Bowl.
“It felt like picking up from a long time ago,” White said. “I think we have a totally different attitude this year. This year’s a different team, different players—a few different players—and we have a different attitude this year.”
Kejuan Jones rushed for a career-high 148 yards for the Sooners.
“It’s always good to win,” coach Bob Stoops said, “but there was no Hokey Pokey going on. Aw, geez, we were able to win. How about that?”
Adrian Peterson, the Sooners’ top-rated high-school recruit, flashed brilliance with a 35-yard touchdown run and finished with 100 yards on 16 carries. But he also fumbled out of bounds on two of his first six carries.
With White recovered from knee surgery and a broken bone in his left foot, Oklahoma’s offense was able to operate frequently with the quarterback under center instead of in the shotgun. The Sooners’ offensive line—which returned all five starters from last season—opened huge holes for Jones to run through and prevented White from being sacked.
“Those guys were opening up holes that anybody could’ve run through,” Jones said. “They were just flying off that ball and they did a great job blocking for me.”
The oft-injured White was hit hard only twice—on a 2-yard run on a busted play to end the first quarter and following an incomplete pass in the third quarter. He even pulled the ball down and ran 6 yards for a first down early in the fourth quarter.
“I definitely felt more mobile this year,” White said.
White, the first Heisman Trophy winner to return since BYU’s Ty Detmer in 1991, was brilliant early. He went 12-for-15 in the first half and one incompletion hit receiver Brandon Jones in the hands.
After Charles Sharon’s second dazzling touchdown catch of the game—a leaping grab during which he landed one knee in bounds—brought the Falcons within 37-17, White threw an interception that Keon Newson returned 28 yards for a touchdown to give Bowling Green a chance. The Falcons were down 37-24 early in the fourth quarter.
The Sooners responded with a 17-play, 73-yard drive that ate nearly 9 minutes off the clock and ended with Trey DiCarlo’s second field goal of the game and doused Bowling Green’s hopes for a comeback.
“There was really no pressure on us at any time,” Sooners center Vince Carter said. “We knew that prior to the interception they hadn’t stopped us. We pretty much were stopping ourselves. We just knew that if we went out on the field and continued to play aggressively, we would score points.”
Newson also caused a turnover that put Bowling Green in position for its first touchdown. Three plays after the fumble, Sharon outjumped Antonio Perkins at the goal line for an 18-yard touchdown catch that tied the game at 7.
Kejuan Jones put the Sooners ahead for good on their next possession with an 11-yard TD run.
“Their running backs were hard to tackle,” Bowling Green coach Gregg Brandon said. “We had to swarm to tackle those guys. It’s tough to sustain that intensity for four quarters.
“I think that’s what got us—them running the ball pretty effectively.”
Mark Clayton, a second team All-American last season, found himself wide open on both touchdown catches. In the first quarter, he ran away from linebacker Daniel Sayles as White lobbed a 6-yard pass to the back right corner of the end zone for the score. In the second quarter, Clayton made a sharp right turn and caught White’s 9-yard pass in the front of the end zone to put Oklahoma up 21-10.
White also connected with a diving Will Peoples for a 24-yard scoring pass in the third quarter that made it 30-10.
Sean Suisham hit a career-long 47-yard field goal in the second quarter for Bowling Green.