SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Oklahoma quarterback Blake Bell will make his first career road start Saturday afternoon at Notre Dame.
Sooner quarterbacks under Bob Stoops are 3-4 in first road starts; all three wins were against mid-major opponents (Louisville, Air Force, Tulsa), and all four losses came against BCS-conference foes (Nebraska, UCLA, Oregon, Miami).
Here's a look at each of the Stoops-era starting quarterbacks' first career road starts:
When: Sept. 25, 1999
Game result: W, 42-21
Heupel's performance: Completed 29 of 42 pass attempts for 429 yards, five touchdowns and one interception, and also scored on a 1-yard quarterback sneak in the fourth quarter. Heupel struggled some earlier in the game, though. Oklahoma trailed 21-14 in the third quarter, but outscored the Cardinals 28-0 the rest of the way. Heupel committed two second-quarter turnovers — an interception and a fumble — that gave Louisville great field position, but OU's defense helped save the first-year Sooner quarterback, holding the Cardinals out of the end zone on both ensuing possessions. Heupel would lose at Notre Dame, at Colorado and at Texas Tech that season, but led OU to the national title a year later.
When: Sept. 1, 2001
Where: Air Force
Game result: W, 44-3
Hybl's performance: Completed 14 of 31 pass attempts for 161 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also scored on a two-yard run in the first half, but OU relied heavily on running back Quentin Griffin that day. Griffin finished with 26 carries for 201 yards, 17 and 144 of which, respectively, came in the second half as OU drained the clock with a big lead. Hybl's interception came early in the game and inside Air Force's 20-yard line.
When: Oct. 27, 2001
Game result: L, 20-10
White's performance: Completed 5 of 13 pass attempts for 50 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. White replaced then-starter Nate Hybl and played well earlier that season against Texas in Dallas and at Kansas, but started his first game in Lincoln. The Sooners and Huskers were ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the BCS standings. OU's first five possessions ended with an interception and four punts, but White had driven OU deep into Nebraska territory before tearing an ACL in the second quarter. White never lost another true road start the rest of his college career.
When: Sept. 17, 2005
Game result: L, 41-24
Bomar's performance: Completed 20 of 29 pass attempts for 241 yards without a passing touchdown or an interception, and added a 16-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Looking purely at those numbers, Bomar's day doesn't sound all that bad. But his four fumbles were devastating — especially the one he lost. With OU trailing 13-10 early in the third quarter, Bomar fumbled, UCLA linebacker Spencer Havner recovered the ball and ran 13 yards for a touchdown. At the time, the 17-point loss was Oklahoma's worst regular-season defeat under Bob Stoops.
When: Sept. 16, 2006
Game result: L, 34-33
Thompson's performance: Completed 13 of 23 pass attempts for 174 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions, and added a 1-yard rushing score. His first road start is pretty much only remembered for the poor late-game officiating that cost Oklahoma a victory, but the OU offense struggled to do much of anything in the first half. Thompson, though, wasn't relied upon in the same way as most other Stoops-era quarterbacks because of the powerful run game, led by superstar Adrian Peterson. He rushed for 211 yards and a touchdown on 34 carries in the controversial loss in Eugene.
When: Sept. 21, 2007
Game result: W, 62-21
Bradford's performance: Completed 16 of 22 pass attempts for 244 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, which came on Oklahoma's first drive of the game. The Sooners marched 51 yards to the Tulsa 16-yard line before Bradford was picked off by Tulsa's Roy Roberts. The Golden Hurricane scored on the ensuing possession to take a 7-0 lead, but it would be their only advantage of the game.
When: Oct. 3, 2009
Where: Miami (Fla.)
Game result: L, 21-20
Jones' performance: Completed 18 of 30 pass attempts for 188 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Standout wide receiver Ryan Broyles — who would become the NCAA's all-time receptions leader — suffered a shoulder injury on the second play from scrimmage and didn't return, which severely limited OU's passing attack in a tough road game. Jones' 188 passing yards that night ended up being the second-lowest in any of Jones' 50 career starts.