NORMAN — They all said OU-Cincinnati was a big game, maybe the day's biggest. Even had an Air Force flyover to prove it. The flyboys don't gas up the jets for Chattanooga.
Then Cincinnati did its part. The Bearcats have a ballteam. Innovative and explosive on offense. Athletic on defense.
All of which makes the Sooners' 52-26 rout at Owen Field even more impressive. The exhibition nature of last week was nowhere to be found. This was a legit foe.
For a half, it was a legit game, 21-13. Then the Sooners kicked into high gear. A gear that looked an awfully lot like 2003.
Sam Bradford, who when you think about it plays a lot like Jason White, kept completing passes, a bunch of them to new star Ryan Broyles. The Sooner receiving corps keeps expanding, much like it did in White's Heisman year.
Also, OU's defense stiffened, after a first half in which it was torched at times. That '03 defense played some games like this; Fresno State scored 28, UCLA 24.
But when that defense had to play, it did. And so did this one.
Cincinnati and its salty — and now star-crossed — quarterback, Dustin Grutza, dented the Sooners for 206 yards. Cincy would have had more than 13 first-half points if not for a couple of unfortunate plays: a holding penalty that wiped out a long pass play to the OU 1-yard line and an end-zone interception by Dom Franks on a bad-decision throw by Grutza.
But in the third quarter, OU dominated. Cincy had just 81 yards and six first downs in the second half; three of those first downs came in the final 83 seconds, when Cincy drove to a meaningless touchdown.
Of course, the Bearcats offense fell apart when Grutza suffered a broken leg on the fourth play of the fourth quarter.