NORMAN — There were ponies on the field. Wait. What were ponies doing on the field?
Justin Brown has seen a lot this past year, but ponies running the turf on game day was not something that happened at Penn State or any of the football fields in the Big Ten.
The thing that shocked Brown the most during his first OU home game weren't the Ruf/Neks' shotgun blasts. It was the Sooner Schooner rolling across Owen Field, pulled by Boomer and Sooner.
Brown's wide brown eyes got even bigger when he talked about the famed Sooner mascots during the postgame press conference Saturday after OU whipped Florida A&M, 69-13.
“That kind of caught me off guard,” said Brown, who transferred from Penn State just before the season started.
What else has surprised Brown during his brief time here?
His Oklahoma home. Here he was, a senior, in a brand new stadium and playing in his first home opener in Norman for a crowd that is coined his “new family.” Brown has jumped right on the Schooner.
Sure, it's temporary. But this kid didn't have to refer to Oklahoma as home. Brown came in saying he didn't want to be the face of the program, but he's never been disrespectful. He could have kept his head down and refused to grow attached.
Don't forget, too, his degree will read Penn State and his formative college years were spent in State College.
But no, here's Brown, who came through one of the craziest situations any college football player could imagine. And although he will spend just four months calling Norman his home base, all he wants to do is help Oklahoma win games.
He might not be connecting with quarterback Landry Jones the way wide receiver Kenny Still did Saturday for 10 receptions, but Brown did have two receptions for 55 yards.
Brown has stepped in where the Sooners need a playmaker.
Just look at his big-play skills as a punt returner. Brown compiled 102 total punt return yards. That's 19th most in a game in Oklahoma history.
Beyond record books, though, fans watched him rake in the yardage while breaking tackles twice for big runs.
Fans thought they saw their first punt return for a touchdown since Ryan Broyles did so against Oklahoma State in 2009. In the first quarter, Brown pulled in a punt at FAMU's 47-yard line, avoided tackles, and saw an open hole. He did make it to the end zone, but game officials ruled that Brown stepped out of bounds at the 4-yard line.
Coach Bob Stoops compared Brown to All-American defensive back and punt returner J.T. Thatcher, who played on the 2000 national championship team Thatcher was a player who would run through defenders on the return.
“He's not a guy you get a hold of his jersey and swing him down,” Stoops said of Brown.
No, he's not. You know why? Because he was a Penn State player who's already been grabbed and swung around.
On Saturday night, Brown tore up a little grass during his Owen Field debut. He followed the spectacle of Boomer and Sooner by making some big plays, collecting some yards.
“I guess that's just how they do it down here,” Brown said of the ponies. “I can get used to that.”