NORMAN, Okla. -- Any question about who the starting quarterback should be for Oklahoma was answered Saturday.
In about 5 minutes.
Blake Bell, the junior who was beat out in August practice by freshman Trevor Knight, got his first-career start Saturday against Tulsa and led the Sooners to an offensive explosion in a 50-21 victory over Tulsa at Memorial Stadium.
Bell directed five, first-half scoring drives, including a touchdown coming just 4:50 into the game. He was 15-of-21 passing in the first half for 281 yards and two touchdowns, played every offensive snap and finished 27 of 37 for 413 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Meanwhile, Knight sat the game out with a bruised knee, making way for Bell, who has 24 rushing touchdowns over the past two seasons, but threw his first Saturday against Tulsa. Meanwhile, the OU offense, which had struggled the first two games of the year, looked crisp with Bell at quarterback.
The result pushes No. 14 OU to 3-0 on the season and also gives it a sense of comfort heading into its next game, Sept. 28 at Notre Dame. The Sooners had already benched Knight, so the fact that Bell wasn't just serviceable has to be considered a victory, too.
Tulsa fell to 1-2. Cody Green threw for 226 yards with an interception. Trey Watts and Ja'Terian Douglas each ran for touchdowns and Carl Salazar kicked a pair of field goals. Watts led Tulsa in rushing with 61 yards and Jordan James made six catches for 100 yards.
If OU had to make another change at quarterback, or didn't think Bell was good enough, the Sooners could have been in a worrisome spot. Coach Bob Stoops said he thought Knight would be ready to go by next week, but he had been so ineffective through the first two games, going 21-of-48 passing with three interceptions. Bell replaced Knight last week at the beginning of the fourth quarter. OU does have Kendal Thompson as well at quarterback, but Thompson has just a week of practice to his credit after injuring his foot the first day of practice in early August. He is listed as the team's second-string quarterback.
None of that seems to matter now as Bell showed he should be the starter. His 413 passing yards were the most by an OU quarterback in a first start, passing the mark held by Heisman winner Sam Bradford.
The Sooners played their best half of the season, out-gaining Tulsa 346-144 before the break, got receivers involved and got Bell a lot of confidence. In addition, the OU defense continued its strong play. Heading into the second half, OU had given up just two touchdowns on the season.
And aside from an odd number of injuries, the day was all about Bell.
OU lost defensive back Stanvon Taylor to an ankle injury. Leading rusher Brennan Clay missed time in the first half with an apparent shoulder injury and safety Gabe Lynn, who had a first-half interception, didn't play in the second half.
Bell was sensational. He looked comfortable throwing the ball and competent running it. The only question left about Bell was how he actually didn't get the call from the coaches to start the season.
He started the game with a 12-play, 72-yard scoring drive, completing three-of-four passes. He went 75 yards in nine plays on the next drive and finished the day with a pair of touchdown passes to Sterling Shepard, who caught eight passes for 123 yards.