NORMAN, Okla. (AP) – So far, so good for Oklahoma’s new-look offense.
It was a bit rough early, but the 19th-ranked Sooners eventually rolled to a 41-3 victory over Akron on Saturday night.
Two players making their debuts for Oklahoma were the biggest stars. Baker Mayfield passed for 388 yards and three touchdowns and ran for a score in three quarters, and running back Joe Mixon had 142 yards from scrimmage.
Mayfield set a school record for yards passing in a season opener, surpassing the previous mark of 363 yards by Sam Bradford in 2007. The walk-on transfer from Texas Tech won the starting job in a preseason battle with last year’s starter, Trevor Knight, after sitting out last year.
Mayfield connected on 10 of 12 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns in the third quarter.
“It’s pretty exciting for me, but I’ve got to move on,” he said. “It could have been better, when you think about the first five drives. We didn’t get any yards. We’ve just got to capitalize and get better.”
Mixon, a redshirt freshman who was suspended last season after punching a woman in the face at a restaurant, caught a 76-yard touchdown pass from Mayfield early in the third quarter. He caught three passes for 115 yards and ran five times for 27 yards.
“He’s got a dynamic skill set, and there’s still a lot of things you can do with a guy like that,” Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley said. “He, like everybody, I could even see it with him early, had a lot of nerves. It was just about getting these guys all settled in. Once he was able to do that, I think everybody was able to see the kind of talent he has.”
It was Oklahoma’s first game featuring its Air Raid offense under Riley, the team’s new offensive coordinator. The Sooners finished with 539 total yards.
Akron gained just 226 total yards, and the Zips completed 6 of 26 passes. Starting quarterback Tra’Von Chapman missed all eight of his passes and was replaced by last year’s starter, Kyle Pohl, to start the second half.
“Oklahoma stuck to their plan and they overwhelmed us by the second half, maybe a little in the first half,” Akron coach Terry Bowden said. “They’re just a better football team.”
Akron has bothered the big boys in the past, pushing Michigan in 2013 and beating Pittsburgh last year. They couldn’t get it done in the Oklahoma heat.
“We ran out of gas,” Bowden said. “They finally got the speed of their offense clicking and hit some big plays.”
Oklahoma opened the scoring in the first quarter with a 35-yard field goal by Austin Seibert. Jerome Lane’s 42-yard reception got the Zips into scoring range before Robert Stein’s 21-yard field goal try bounced off the left upright.
Oklahoma took control in the second quarter. Samaje Perine’s 2-yard touchdown run made it 10-0. Later, Dede Westbrook tipped a ball to himself with his left hand, then hauled the ball in for a 29-yard score to make it 17-0.
Sterling Shepard fumbled a punt return late in the first half, and Stein converted a 26-yard field goal with 6 seconds left in the first half to trim Oklahoma’s lead to 17-3.
Mixon’s long catch on Oklahoma’s first offensive play of the second half put the Sooners up 24-3.
Now, the Sooners can look ahead to their showdown at Tennessee next Saturday.
“We certainly need to make that normal improvement from Week 1 to Week 2 in order to be ready for a road challenge that we will get from Tennessee,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. “I’m pleased with our performance tonight, especially on defense.”
(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)