Smooth sailing turned into a rough ride.
As 75,423 watched at Memorial Stadium, third-ranked OU eased past the Tar Heels 41-27 in the Hispanic College Fund Classic.
The final margin is deceptive. The Sooners easily extended the nation's longest active winning streak to 14 games.
But OU coach Bob Stoops was less than pleased with how his team finished.
"I wasn't satisfied with anybody's performance, he said.
But, Stoops said, "there was some good in it.
OU led 17-0 less than four minutes into the game. By halftime the lead was 41-14, and there was more reason to be worried much more reason, according to weather reports about a lightning strike than a Tar Heel comeback.
But North Carolina scored twice in the fourth quarter, salvaging some respectability and revealing some potential problem areas for the Sooners.
"This will be a good learning experience, Stoops said. "We've got to learn to handle prosperity. Up 41-7, and we fell apart. ... We didn't play with a real sense of urgency in the second half.
Stoops said OU has much to correct before playing at Air Force next Saturday.
"Sometimes, that's good, Stoops said. "We'll go to work Monday. ... This lets our players know we have a lot to push for to improve. They may have heard too much good in the summer.
In its first game under coach John Bunting, North Carolina was overmatched. But the Tar Heels didn't give themselves much of a chance.
The Sooners took advantage of five Tar Heel turnovers to put the game away early.
OU's defense ran its scoreless streak to seven quarters before surrendering two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
Those scores, which came as North Carolina amassed 196 fourth-quarter yards, put a damper on any Sooner celebration as surely as the torrential rains that hit just before the final gun.
OU finished with 286 yards, four less than North Carolina. And the Sooners were penalized 10 times for 104 yards.
"We had our moments, junior quarterback Nate Hybl said. "But we're looking for more production, for sure. We need to establish better rhythm offensively.
"But it's the first one, and we're going to Air Force next week.
OU's defense contributed a pair of touchdowns on Rocky Calmus' 14-yard fumble return and Derrick Strait's 47-yard interception return. And the Sooners got a special-teams score with Antwone Savage's 88-yard kickoff return.
North Carolina finished with 290 yards, four more than OU's total. But through three quarters, the Tar Heels had 94 total yards.
And until the fourth quarter, the Tar Heel offense never sniffed a score. North Carolina's first-half touchdowns came on All-American defensive end Julius Peppers' 29-yard interception return and Michael Waddell's 89-yard punt return.
"One of those, you might be able to live with, Stoops said. "Both of them makes it tough.
OU's defensive dominance helped offset a humdrum offensive performance. OU piled up the first-half points with only 138 total yards.
OU did not threaten to score in the second half.
"The entire offense still has a lot to improve on, Stoops said.
Junior tailback Quentin Griffin had 68 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.
Making his first start, Hybl was steady but unspectacular.
In the first half, Hybl completed 11 of 16 passes for 77 yards. Hybl finished 20-of-29 for 152 yards with the interception, which came when Peppers jumped over a lineman and destroyed what looked like a nice screen play.
"One poor play, Stoops said of Hybl's performance. "Some of it was (Hybl's) fault, and some of it was the offensive lineman's fault.
Hybl didn't often look downfield. He just missed on a couple of deep balls, but connected on a couple in the second half.
"We need to continue to concentrate downfield more, Stoops said.
Jason White, the sophomore Hybl edged for the right to replace Josh Heupel, did not play until the fourth quarter.
White was 1 of 2 for 26 yards.
"We didn't have a set plan when we wanted to play him, Stoops said. "It was when the opportunity presented itself.
North Carolina's first-half touchdowns didn't come against the defense. And neither score meant much in ter