Williams throws 6 TD passes, No. 4 Oklahoma routs Texas Tech

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NORMAN, Okla. – Oklahoma is starting to put it all together.

Caleb Williams threw for 402 yards and six touchdowns and No. 4 Oklahoma rolled past Texas Tech 52-21 on Saturday.

The Sooners won six of their first eight games by 12 or fewer points, and the offense, defense and special teams had spent much of the season bailing each other out.

This time, Oklahoma produced the kind of dominant victory fans expected from the start of the season.

“Fantastic team win,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said. “Just a complete performance all the way around. Offense, defense, special teams – huge contributions from everybody. Really loved the week of preparation. The guys did a really good job carrying it over from from the practice field to the game field.”

Williams – a true freshman – tied Kyler Murray and Landry Jones for the second-most touchdown passes in a game in school history. Baker Mayfield threw seven against Texas Tech in 2016.

He bounced back from a rough first series.

“I thought he had a really clear mind the entire way and obviously settled in there quickly,” Riley said. “Really nice job of things inside the pocket, and obviously, made some key plays out of it.”

Riley said the plan wasn’t to throw such a large percentage of the time. Williams threw 30 passes. The Sooners ran the ball just 20 times – many of which came after Williams left the game.

“Just kind of how it evolved,” he said. “We’ve shown we can be a team that can run it pretty well. Today was one of our better games throwing the football.”

Marvin Mims caught four passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns, and Mario Williams had five receptions for 100 yards and a score to help the Sooners (9-0, 6-0 Big 12) extend their nation-leading winning streak to 17 games.

Oklahoma held Texas Tech to 373 yards of total offense and forced three turnovers.

Donovan Smith passed for 192 yards for the Red Raiders (5-4, 2-4) in Sonny Cumbie‘s first game as interim coach since Matt Wells was fired. Erik Ezukanma caught eight passes for 123 yards and a touchdown.

Mims caught a 67-yard touchdown pass from Williams late in the first quarter – the longest catch of his career – to put the Sooners ahead 14-7.

Williams passed for 268 yards and tossed four touchdowns to four receivers in the first half to help Oklahoma take a 28-7 lead. He then threw touchdown passes of 43 yards to Mims in the third quarter and nine yards to Austin Stogner in the fourth.

Cumbie said the transition was no excuse for the poor performance, but he believes its an ideal time for Tech’s upcoming bye.

“It’s the same mindset in West Texas – what happens when things go poorly in the oil business?” he said. “What happens when things go poorly in the cotton industry? What you do is you dig your heels in and you fight and you keep showing up every single day. And that’s what we’re going to do.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Texas Tech: The Red Raiders looked flat and didn’t play the control-the-clock game as much as many opponents that have had success against the Sooners.

Oklahoma: The Sooners learned they could control a game with Williams’ arm. The Sooners rushed for just 72 yards, yet the offense moved the ball just fine. Williams focused on staying in the pocket much of the game and often was rewarded for his patience.

RATTLER SHINES

Williams replaced Rattler during the Texas game and has started the past three contests. Rattler entered Saturday’s game in the fourth quarter and completed 5 of 5 passes for 67 yards, including a 42-yard touchdown pass to Brian Darby. The home crowd, which booed Rattler earlier in the season against West Virginia, gave him a standing ovation when he entered the game.

Rattler’s teammates celebrated with him after the touchdown. Riley hoped that visual would end the talk that Rattler is selfish and distant from his teammates.

“That narrative is over, and I hope every one of you write it,” Riley said. “Because that narrative is over. He’s been a great team guy. He’s worked, he’s gotten better, he’s taking advantage of the reps.”

BRKIC BOOMS

Oklahoma kicker Gabe Brkic hit a 53-yard field goal into the wind in the third quarter. He has made five of six field goals of 50 or more yards this season. He has made two from 56 yards – tied for the longest field goals in the nation heading into the week.

STEPPING UP

Oklahoma defensive lineman Isaiah Thomas forced a fumble and recovered it on the same play when he swiped the ball away from Smith and had two batted balls and 1.5 tackles for loss.

UP NEXT

Texas Tech: At Iowa State on Nov. 13.

Oklahoma: At Baylor on Nov. 13.

Florida shakes up secondary after dismal game at Tennessee

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida coach Billy Napier is shaking up his secondary after the Gators allowed 349 yards passing – including 247 of those on eight plays – in a loss at Tennessee.

Safety Trey Dean, a fifth-year senior who has started 32 games and played in 54, is out with what Florida is calling a “lower leg injury.” But no one would be surprised if Napier was quietly benching Dean after he made two mental errors against the Volunteers that resulted in 70- and 45-yard gains and set up touchdowns.

Freshman Kamari Wilson will replace Dean and make his first college start Sunday against Eastern Washington.

Cornerback Jaydon Hill will join Wilson in the starting lineup. Hill, a third-year sophomore, will make his first start since 2020. He missed the 2021 season with a torn knee ligament. He impressed Napier and his new staff in the spring but sat out preseason camp with another knee injury.

Hill will replace sophomore Avery Helm, who also struggled against the Vols.

“You talk about what he’s been through from an injury perspective,” Napier said following practice Wednesday. “Jaydon was one of the better players that we had on our team in spring practice. I was very impressed . It’s no surprise to me. He showed pretty quickly here that he’s very capable. I’m excited to watch him play.”

Georgia transfer Jalen Kimber, a former five-star recruit, is now listed as a third-team cornerback. Kimber played just 11 snaps in Knoxville a week after he returned an interception for a touchdown in a 31-28 win against South Florida.

“I like to say we try to eliminate the bad football,” Napier said. “Talking about mental errors, misalignments, poor communication, bad fundamentals and techniques, bad decision-making within the play. … We have a laundry list of things that we need to eliminate each week.

“Last week’s game, I thought we were really close, but there’s 12 or 15 plays in the game where Florida is beating Florida. We’ve got a smart group here. I think they’re very aware of what the issues are, and I think they’re working hard to address those issues.”

Pac-12 looking stronger at top after early-season losses

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When Oregon got throttled by top-ranked Georgia and Utah lost at Florida, it appeared as though the Pac-12 was headed toward another College Football Playoff miss.

One week into the season and two of the conference’s top teams had already failed big early tests.

Flash forward three weeks and it seems the Pac-12 might be in good shape after all.

The Ducks and Utes bounced back with big wins and the top of the conference looks strong, with four teams in the top 15 for the first time since 2016.

It’s still early, but the Pac-12 is putting itself in position to get a team through to the CFP for the first time since Washington in 2016-17.

A look at how the top of the Pac-12 is stacking up headed into the first weekend of October:

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

The No. 6 Trojans (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) seem to have quickly returned to glory in their first season under Lincoln Riley. The former Oklahoma coach brought quarterback Caleb Williams with him to Southern California and they have thrived through the first four games.

Williams has thrown for 1,054 yards and nine touchdowns, adding 100 yards and two more scores rushing. USC’s defense has been opportunistic, leading the nation with 11 interceptions while tied for the lead with 14 takeaways.

The Trojans survived a scare against scrappy Oregon State over the weekend to start 4-0 for the first time since 2012. USC has to play at Utah on Oct. 15, but avoids Washington and Oregon this season.

UTAH

The 12th-ranked Utes opened the season with a tough road loss at The Swamp in Florida, but have won three straight lopsided games.

Outside of a costly interception late against the Gators, quarterback Cam Rising has been sharp, throwing for 954 yards and 10 TDs. Utah (3-1, 1-0) has a physical defense and is third in the FBS, allowing 132.8 yards passing per game.

The Utes also have a veteran team that won the Pac-12 championship last season. The bad news: tight end Brant Kuithe, their leading receiver, is out for the season with a knee injury.

Utah plays Oregon State this weekend and has tough games against USC and Oregon still on the schedule.

OREGON

The Ducks’ playoff chances took an immediate hit with a 49-3 loss to reigning national champion Georgia in their opener.

No. 13 Oregon (3-1, 1-0) bounced back with a decisive win over a good BYU team and outlasted previously undefeated Washington State 44-41 last week.

The Ducks were no match for the Bulldogs in any aspect – few teams are – but have averaged 51.6 points the past three games. Oregon’s biggest weakness is its pass defense. The Ducks are allowing 72.5% of passes to be completed, third worst in the country.

Oregon’s biggest tests left in the season will come in back to back games against Washington and Utah.

WASHINGTON

The Huskies have made a quick turnaround in their first season under coach Kalen DeBoer.

Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has been superb now that he’s healthy, throwing for an FBS-best 1,388 yards and 12 TDs with one interception. No. 15 Washington (4-0, 1-0) picked up a solid home win against Michigan State and has 15 sacks this season, including eight against Stanford last week.

The Huskies play their first road game at undefeated UCLA on Saturday and have to face Oregon on Nov. 12.

UCLA

After winning at Colorado for the first time since 2014 last Saturday, the Bruins (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) have their longest winning streak since winning the first eight games in 2005.

UCLA had a hard time getting past South Alabama and opened its Pac-12 schedule with a win against the struggling Buffaloes.

The Bruins will find out how good they are over the next three weeks, a brutal stretch that includes home games against Washington and Utah before heading to Eugene to play the Ducks on Oct. 22.