Defense does it in opening win

By George Schroeder Published: August 26, 2001
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NORMAN Oklahoma's performance was much like the weather Saturday night.

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.

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