Oklahoma’s defense was stubborn all night, and made several big plays as the Sooners cruised past Tennessee 34-10 on Saturday night at Owen Field in Norman.
The Sooner defense forced 3 Volunteer turnovers, including two interceptions, one ended a Vol drive with a touchback, and the other was a 100-yard return for a touchdown by Julian Wilson.
After holding the visitors from Knoxville to minus-3 yards the first time Tennessee had the ball, OU moved to the Tennessee 12 yard line before Michael Hunnicutt was forced to toe through a 29 yd. FG and the Sooners led 3-0.
The next time the Vols had it, their QB Justin Worley hit a couple of nice passes, but on 1st down at the OU 40, he was crushed from his blind side, by Quentin Hayes – who not only forced the fumble, but recovered it too.
The Sooners marched 54 yards in 6 plays in just under 2-minutes with the scoring play coming on a wide-open Trevor Knight to Keith Ford 23 yard touchdown pass and it was 10-0 Oklahoma.
Late in the quarter, Knight hit Sterling Shepard on the game’s biggest play so far, a 45 yard pass-catch & run to the Tennessee 15 yard line…but again the drive stalled and Hunnicutt kicked a 27 yd. FG for the 13-0 lead.
Tennessee played a lot better in period number two. Vols QB Justin Worley, under intense pressure all night long so far, completed passes for 30 and 40 yards including a touchdown play to wide open Josh Smith to cut the Sooners lead to 13-7 with just under 10 minutes left in the half.
But 2 possessions later, OU moved 81 yards in 9 plays…the biggest snap was the first one when Knight hit WR Sterling Shepard for a 32 yard gain. Keith Ford finished off the drive with an 11 yard run over left tackle, almost untouched, and the Sooners had increased their lead the halftime margin 20-7.
At intermission, the OU defense has held Tennessee to minus-11 yards rushing in 15 plays. But Worley had passed for 144 yards and the 1 TD for a total of 133 yds. The Sooners racked up 293 total yards with Trevor Knight hitting 14-21 passing for 229 yards and the one score.
OU was driving late in the half, when Knight hit TE Blake Bell on two consecutive pass plays totalling 36 yards…but Knight’s pass after that was deflected off teamate K.J. Young and intercepted by Tennessee to end the half.
The Sooners increased their halftime advantage by putting together their best drive of the game to start the 2nd half. OU marched 75 yards in 6 plays…including a pair of 10 yard passes from Trevor Knight to Sterling Shepard and K.J. Young, then Knight hit Durron Neal on a quick slant route for a 43 yard gain to the Tennessee 9 yard line. 2 plays later, Knight kept it himself for the 5-yard TD run around the right side and Oklahoma led 27-7.
The Sooners defense harassed Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley all night long.
Worley was just 21 of 44 passing for 201 yards.
When it appeared the Sooners had stopped the Vols, a punt accidentally went off the back foot of OU’s Stephen Parker and Tennessee recovered. After OU had ’em stopped again, Charles Tapper was called for a last-grab face mask penalty…and eventually Tennessee kicked a field goal to cut Oklahoma’s lead to 17 after 3 quarters.
It looked like Tennessee might make things interesting early in the fourth quarter as they drove to the doorstep of the OU goal line, but the Sooner defense made another big play.
Jordan Evans tipped a pass by Worley, and Julian Wilson got the interception, returning it 100 yards for the touchdown to make it 34-10.
It was the second time in OU history a Sooner had returned an interception 100 yards, with the first one coming by Al Needs in 1945.
Knight finished 20 of 33 passing for 308 yards.
It’s the second time Knight has surpassed the 300 yard mark passing in a game, including his Sugar Bowl performance against Alabama last January.
OU improves to 3-0 on the season, and are now 2-1 all-time vs. Tennessee.
The home game was the first of the three meetings played in the regular season.
The first two meetings were in the Orange Bowl, in 1939 and 1968.
Bob Stoops improved to 5-4 vs. SEC teams.
The Sooners open Big 12 play next Saturday when they visit Morgantown to play West Virginia at 6:30.