By CLIFF BRUNT, AP Sports activities Author
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma hoped days like this have been previously.
The No. 2 Sooners entered the season among the many favorites to contend for the nationwide title partly as a result of the protection had improved considerably the previous two years beneath coordinator Alex Grinch. What as soon as had been one of many nation’s worst models had turn out to be an asset.
It was extra of a legal responsibility at occasions on Saturday. The Sooners struggled within the second half and did simply sufficient to carry off Tulane for a 40-35 victory.
Oklahoma led 37-14 at halftime, then the offense stalled and the protection was pressured to get a cease within the last minutes to protect a season-opening win. Tulane outgained the Sooners 230 yards to 118 after the break and outscored them 21-3.
Grinch stated his gamers didn’t heed his warning, and the outcome was an all-too-familiar collapse within the second half — similar to the one which led to a loss to Kansas State final 12 months.
“You clarify to the fellows at halftime there’s extra adversity coming, and the eyes staring again at you, after which heads are shaking, heads bobbing ‘I bought you Coach,’” he stated. “There’s been different situations in our previous the place related issues have occurred.
“It’s a 60-minute soccer sport. That staff throughout the way in which goes to combat tooth and nail to discover a approach to get factors and get themselves again within the soccer sport. You’ve bought to have respect for that.”
The Sooners, who led 40-22 early within the fourth quarter, gave up a pair of late touchdowns. Tulane had fourth-and-13 simply in need of midfield with slightly below two minutes to go when quarterback Michael Pratt ran for 12 yards and the Inexperienced Wave turned the ball over on downs.
“We at all times preach ending within the fourth quarter,” Oklahoma linebacker Nik Bonitto stated. “The protection knew we wanted a cease, and I really feel like we did a great job rallying up earlier than that drive occurred and ensuring that we might end the sport.”
Grinch was happy with the Sooners for getting that cease.
“Your emblem ain’t gonna win you a sport at that time,” he stated. “You’ve bought to go make a play and discover a manner, and (Tulane) ended up being a yard quick. As disenchanted as I could sound correct now, I really feel a complete lot higher that we made that play versus not.”
The Sooners usually pressured Pratt, solely to see him escape and switch losses into positive aspects. He handed for 296 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 34 yards and one other rating.
The Sooners sacked Pratt 4 occasions and made him fumble thrice in a sport that was relocated from New Orleans due to Hurricane Ida. However total, the Sooners weren’t glad with their efficiency.
“I actually thought we’d play a greater ballgame,” Grinch stated. “I did. So I’m going to be awfully disenchanted in that movie however awfully happy that we discovered a approach to win.”
Observe Cliff Brunt on Twitter: twitter.com/CliffBruntAP.
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