NORMAN, OKLAHOMA – Even one of the best nights ever for an Oklahoma player wasn’t good enough for Jalen Hurts.
The new Sooners quarterback passed for three touchdowns and ran for three more, and No. 4 Oklahoma rolled past Houston 49-31 on Sunday night.
It was Hurts’ first game for the Sooners since he transferred from Alabama. He put on a show as his predecessor, 2018 Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray, watched. He posted 508 total yards, the fifth-most in school history.
Hurts was not impressed. And at a school that has produced back-to-back Heisman-winning quarterbacks in Baker Mayfield and Murray, nitpicking has become the norm at that position.
“We did some really good things out there tonight, but there are a lot of things we can improve on,” he said. “We’ve got to take that next step.”
Hurts started at Alabama for two years before losing the job to Tua Tagovailoa. He stayed as a backup at Alabama last season, then transferred to Oklahoma and won the starting job in preseason camp.
He looked at home in the opener __ he completed 20 of 23 passes for 332, ran for 176 yards on 16 carries and helped the Sooners gain 686 total yards.
Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley liked how Hurts handled the situation.
“He played good,” Riley said. “There were things he could do better, but I thought he handled the moment good. You could tell out there that he’d been in it, certainly. I’m sure he had some nerves, but he did a good job managing them.”
Houston coach Dana Holgorsen, who coached at West Virginia before making his Houston debut on Sunday night, said he sees no drop-off in Oklahoma’s play.
“Four years ago, they were good,” Holgorsen said. “A year later, they were the best offense in college football. A year later, with a new quarterback, they’re the best offense in college football. A year later, with a new quarterback, they looked the same to me.”
Charleston Rambo caught three passes for 105 yards and a touchdown and Trey Sermon ran for 91 yards for Oklahoma.
Oklahoma’s defense was sharp too, constantly pressuring Houston quarterback D’Eriq King and limiting him to 87 yards passing in the first half. King, one of the nation’s top quarterbacks last season, finished with just 167 yards passing. Though King rushed for 103 yards, Riley felt the Sooners kept him and the Cougars under control.
“I thought our defense flew around, was extremely active, extremely disruptive for the majority of the game,” Riley said.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5