NORMAN, Okla. – By the time he’s done, Sam Bradford may erase Josh Heupel’s name from the Oklahoma record books entirely.
Bradford passed for an Oklahoma-record 468 yards and had three touchdown passes to help the No. 4 Sooners bounce back from their first loss by beating No. 16 Kansas 45-31 on Saturday.
Despite losing top receiver Manuel Johnson to a first-quarter arm injury, Bradford cleared the Oklahoma record of 429 yards set by Heupel in 1999 against Louisville. Bradford has already matched a record held by Heupel and Jason White with five touchdowns in a game, and he passed Heupel’s career touchdown total earlier this season.
“I knew that he was a great player here and a very smart football player, so I knew that I was going to have an opportunity to learn a lot from him,” Bradford said. “And him having the experience at this program, it just added to what I could learn from him.”
It made all the difference in a meeting of two of the nation’s top quarterbacks.“I’m really impressed with Sam Bradford. He’s everything they said he would be and more,” Kansas coach Mark Mangino said. “Just pinpoint accuracy, good poise.”
Kansas’ Todd Reesing was able to keep the Jayhawks (5-2, 2-1 Big 12) in the game into the third quarter by dodging pressure, but Oklahoma (6-1, 2-1 Big 12) prevented a repeat of last week, when Texas’ Colt McCoy used a series of successful scramble drills in a Red River Rivalry win that vaulted the Longhorns into the Sooners’ old No. 1 spot
Once Kansas got within 31-24, Oklahoma sacked Reesing on three of the next four drives in forcing four straight punts.
Jeremy Beal got the first hand on Reesing, knocking the ball free to force a long third down, and two of the next three drives ended after Gerald McCoy and Auston English sacked Reesing on third-down plays.
“The first half, we were getting close to him. And then the second half, we came out and we started to get to him a lot more,” Beal said.
With the defense starting to click, Bradford and the offense were able to create some breathing room.
DeMarco Murray scored his second touchdown of the game on an 8-yard run in the third quarter, and Bradford found reserve tight end Kolby Smith for a 2-yard touchdown pass as Oklahoma stretched its lead to 45-24 with 12:02 to play.
The win was Oklahoma’s 21st straight at home, matching the second-longest streak in school history. It also keeps the Sooners right in the thick of the national championship chase.
“Either we could have come out here and just been really disappointed about last week and let it affect our play, or we could have come out and played well tonight,” Bradford said. “I felt like we did come out and we responded to the loss from last week.”