For one quarter of football on Saturday afternoon, the country saw what was a semblance of a game in Norman, Oklahoma.
As FOX broadcasted UTEP’s matchup with OU, the Miners took possession of the ball into the 2nd quarter within one score, 14-7, of the Sooners.
Doomed by the exhausting conservatism that has characterized Sean Kugler’s game management the last four seasons, though, punt after repeated punt gifted possession to an Oklahoma offense that’s one of the best in college football -- and UTEP left the field with a 56-7 silencing.
After OU took the game’s opening drive 76 yards on 6 plays in 2:16, the Miners -- fueled by Walter Dawn’s 49 yards on 4 carries -- drove 78 yards on 8 plays in 4:22 as Dawn put UTEP in the endzone with a 17-yard scamper.
Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield then orchestrated an 8-play, 75-yard drive down the field in 4:26 to put the Sooners back up by seven -- the final points Oklahoma would need.
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The next UTEP possession was a three-and-out as the Miners threw the ball every down, and the first of Alan Luna’s eight punts gave OU the ball at its own 37.
The Sooners moved the ball to UTEP’s 30 yard line three plays later -- just five yards from where the Miners punted -- and the UTEP defense came up with one of the few stops that would be possible.
As OU attempted to convert a 4th and 3 at the UTEP 32 yard line, Dante Lovilette burst across the line of scrimmage and sacked Baker Mayfield for a 10-yard loss -- giving the Miners the ball down a touchdown as the 1st-quarter clock read 0:08.
The end of UTEP’s fight.
The Miners would punt the ball on 4th and 6 at the start of the 2nd quarter and begin a string of punts that resulted in three straight Sooner touchdowns.
Leading 35-7 at the midway point, OU came out of the locker rooms with backups inserted for rest of play.
UTEP opened the half with the first of another four punts they would boot throughout a game Sean Kugler never gave his offense a chance to fight in. The Sooners ended up scoring 35 of their 56 points off possessions that started with UTEP punts, while the Miners’ eight punts came on situations of 4th and 10, 6, 8, 3, 11, 4, 3, and 7, respectively -- all as OU held a lead.
“We were outmatched,” UTEP coach Sean Kugler said. “I really felt going into the game, that’s a potential national championship quality offense.”
Still, the Miners kept punting.