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Saturday, September 27, 2008
Sooners playing like the nation's best in strong early start

Posted by's Tim Griffin

NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma is making a forceful early claim for its place as the nation's top team after the first half.

The Sooners scored on three of their first four possessions and took advantage of an opportunistic defense to jump to a 28-3 halftime lead over TCU.

It's been a complete team effort for the Sooners that started from the opening kickoff. Quarterback Sam Bradford has baffled TCU with an array of hard counts and three touchdown passes as the Sooners have averaged 7.8 yards per snap and piled up 320 yards en route to the lead.

This is a marked contrast from TCU's usual success at Owen Field. The Horned Frogs had won four of their last five games in Norman.

After Oklahoma's offense bogged down during a string of three-and-outs in the second quarter, the defense repeatedly kept making big plays. Defensive back Lendy Holmes came up with a pair of fumble recoveries and a touchdown-saving tackle after Aaron Brown's 75-yard kickoff return. Cornerback Brian Jackson made a scintillating one-handed interception deep in Oklahoma territory to kill another TCU drive.

Bradford couldn't have asked for a better start, repeatedly confusing TCU due to his no-huddle offense and his snap count. It helped provide for three TCU offside penalties and two other times when they had 12 players on the field in the first quarter. The Horned Frogs were penalized eight times for 41 yards in the first quarter.

The confusion continued in the TCU secondary early in the game. Bradford torched the Horned Frogs for an Oklahoma school-record 199 yards in the first quarter and 281 yards in the first half.

Oklahoma went away from deeper passes and tried to run the ball in the second quarter. But the Sooners struggled in the trenches against the smaller but quicker Horned Frogs, producing only 39 rushing yards against the nation's top-ranked rush defense.

The Sooners endured a run of four straight three-and-out possessions before Bradford blistered a TCU blitz with a 55-yard strike to Manny Johnson with 1:02 left for the final score that sent the Horned Frogs dejectedly walking off the field at the half.

As impressive as Oklahoma has played, it hasn't all been good news for the Sooners. Senior offensive tackle Trent Williams went down with an injury to his right ankle late in the second quarter when Bradford rolled up on the back of his leg when he was sacked by TCU safetyStephen Hodge. He limped off the field and did not return during the rest of the half.