No. 2 Sooners rout Ball State 62-6
(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
By JEFF LATZKE
AP College Football Writer
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) Tony Jefferson was starting to think his performance was too good to be true.
Fortunately for Oklahoma, it was entirely for real.
Jefferson fueled a second-quarter scoring surge with interceptions on three straight drives, and the second-ranked Sooners geared up for their rivalry game against Texas next week by beating Ball State 62-6 on Saturday night.
"It was kind of weird. It just kept happening over and over again," Jefferson said.
That's what Ball State had to be thinking, too, as Oklahoma (4-0) made each turnover costly by cashing in for seven points again and again. By the time they were done with the turnover-fed 5 1/2-minute binge, a four-point lead had grown to 32.
Landry Jones threw for 425 yards and five touchdowns - including scores of 64 yards to Ryan Broyles and 56 yards to Jaz Reynolds a minute apart in the third quarter - and then Jefferson's mind strayed toward the looming game next Saturday in Dallas against No. 17 Texas. The Longhorns also remained unbeaten with a 37-14 win at Iowa State.
"I started thinking, `All right, now it's time to move on. We're up big. We've got a big game next week,'" said Jefferson, the Sooners' starting nickelback.
Ball State (3-2) didn't stand much of a chance after recovering an onside kick to open the game, then going three-and-out, particularly once Jefferson got involved.
Keith Wenning had gone 176 straight passes without an interception but then threw three to Jefferson in a span of four attempts.
On Ball State's first play after Dominique Whaley's 25-yard TD run, Sooners defensive end Frank Alexander tipped Wenning's pass high into the air, and Jefferson leaped to grab the ball. That set up Kenny Stills' 7-yard touchdown catch from Jones two plays later.
Jefferson ended Ball State's next drive by tipping Wenning's overthrown pass with his right hand and then corralling it along the Cardinals sideline. Roy Finch picked up 47 yards on a swing pass, and Whaley then punched it in with a 1-yard score on his fourth straight carry.
And Jefferson wasn't done yet.
He tracked down another batted ball - this time by R.J. Washington - for his third interception in a span of six offensive snaps by the Cardinals. Broyles scored two plays later on a 27-yard touchdown catch from Jones, capping the Sooners' sudden scoring spurt and make it 38-6.
It was the second straight week the Sooners had an unimpressive start before taking control with 28 straight points in the second quarter, this time courtesy of Jefferson.
"He's got a real knack for the ball, obviously," defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. "We all know that. He's got good instincts, good anticipation and that's why he so valuable down close to the line of scrimmage.
"That position gets a lot of opportunities but it takes the right guy to capitalize in those situations. Tony, he's a ball magnet."
Jefferson even had a shot at picking off a pass on four straight drives, when Wenning's throw clipped off Toreial Gibson's hands and then off of Jefferson's before falling incomplete. Jefferson said he dropped it because he was already thinking about making a spin move and running in for a touchdown.
"(Jefferson) was just in the right place at the right time," said Wenning, who was trying to throw away the interception that didn't get tipped at the line. "He's a good player, so he made a couple plays."
Tom Wort picked up where Jefferson left off, recovering Wenning's fumble and running it back 22 yards for a score that made it 59-6 with 11:34 left in the third quarter. That capped a 68-second span with three Oklahoma touchdowns, after the Sooners had already scored a pair of touchdowns 49 seconds apart twice in the first half.
Wenning, coming off a career-best 324-yard outing against Army last week, managed just 84 yards on 12-for-31 passing. The Cardinals were outgained 655-214.
"You have to have a short memory," Wenning said. "Obviously this game hurts, but you've got to forget about it and move on."
The most trying times for the Sooners came early in the second quarter, just before the scoring onslaught.
Ball State got within 10-6 after a 15-play, 7-minute drive that finished with Steven Schott's second field goal of the game. Then Brennan Clay and Whaley, Oklahoma's top two running backs, both got dinged up within three plays.
While one group of trainers was helping Clay across the field, another group was helping Whaley remove his jersey so they could tend to his right shoulder. He returned six plays after Clay left with a sprained shoulder, going for a 10-yard pickup before his 25-yard score around the left side.
Whaley finished with 109 yards on 15 carries, with most of the damage coming in the first half. Clay did not return but coach Stoops expects him to play next week.
Broyles caught four passes to move to 304 career receptions, one more than the previous Big 12 record set by Texas Tech running back Taurean Henderson (2002-05). He is 12 catches behind the NCAA career record held by Purdue's Taylor Stubblefield (2001-04).
Broyles had 109 yards receiving with two touchdowns. Reynolds had 141 yards on five catches.
Updated October 2, 2011