NORMAN — Another twist was thrown into the Sooners quarterback saga Saturday afternoon against Tulsa, when Blake Bell led the Sooners to a big 51-20 win over their inter-state rivals.
Bell’s 413 yards passing is the most in a first start in Oklahoma’s program history, and it translated to four passing touchdowns. The mark exceeds the 356 yards put up by Sam Bradford in his first start just a few years ago.
“We were emphasizing trying to boost and improve our passing game,” Stoops said. “He obviously did that, along with our receivers.”
The person on the receiving end of most of those Bell passes was Sterling Shepard, who had a career high 123 yards off 8 catches to go with his two touchdowns. Even with the running game struggling against Tulsa, the 607 yards of total offense made the win comfortable. The same comfort can now be felt by Bell, who after entering the season as the second string will take the reins against Notre Dame in two weeks’ time.
“That’s pretty obvious, yeah,” Stoops said. “So much for your controversy right now; it didn’t last long. You can’t deny what he just went out and did.”
Bell’s impact was felt immediately, as he connected with Shepard for a couple of passes on the opening drive to take the Sooners further into Tulsa territory. The mobile quarterback then scrambled across the field on third down for 10 yards to keep the drive going. After standing out last week, Brennan Clay ran in four yards for the Sooners’ first touchdown on an opening drive this season.
On their next drive the Sooners benefitted from their work on the passing game again. This time it was Jaz Reynolds on a quick slant who caught Bell’s pass and had tons of room to run. The 82-yard play took Oklahoma inside the Tulsa 10 yard line before Darnell Walker made an important tackle for Tulsa. OU had to eventually settle for a 20-yard Hunnicutt field goal.