NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield made quite a statement when he planted a maroon OU flag at midfield following the Sooners’ win at Ohio State.
The Sooners made a less dramatic, yet still important statement a week later: They showed their team full of rising stars can handle success.
Mayfield passed for 331 yards and four touchdowns, and No. 2 Oklahoma followed its big win with a 56-14 victory over Tulane on Saturday.
“Not every game is going to be 7 at night with the whole country watching.” Mayfield said. “That is up to the leaders to get everyone ready. We just have to realize we have to take it one week at time. The Ohio State game was not our highlight.”
Oklahoma freshman receiver CeeDee Lamb caught four passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns before he was ejected for targeting on a block in the second quarter. Sophomore Marquise Brown had career highs of six catches and 155 yards, including an 87-yard touchdown grab in the fourth quarter for the Sooners (3-0).
Oklahoma finished with 631 yards, including 434 passing.
The Sooners and Green Wave were tied at 14 in the second quarter before Oklahoma’s Parnell Motley returned an interception 77 yards for a touchdown to turn the momentum for good. Oklahoma extended its nation-leading win streak to 13 games.
“Very excited about the poise our guys kept,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said. “We know we have to play better early.”
Tulane (1-2) scored on its first two drives and never scored again. Dontrell Hilliard ran for 104 yards for the Green Wave.
“We just came out and did what we needed to do — paid attention to our true game and kept going,” Hilliard said of the early success. “If we would’ve just stuck it out a little bit more, we would’ve been fine.”
TULANE: The Green Wave were solid in a 23-21 loss to Navy last Saturday, and were good again for much of the first half against Oklahoma. Tulane controlled the clock before the break, holding the ball for more than 20 minutes and keeping Mayfield on the sideline. Quarterback Johnathan Brantley had his moments, but the interception changed the game.
“We didn’t respond very well,” Tulane coach Willie Fritz said. “We were down 28-14 at half and got the ball the first series (of the second half) and just never could get in step offensively again the rest of the half.”
OKLAHOMA: Oklahoma’s defense locked in after the first quarter. Tulane gained 157 yards in the first quarter and 134 the rest of the game.
“The option attack is so tough,” Riley said. “They do it 365 days a year. Once we got that interception return, we felt that got our confidence back.”
POLL IMPLICATIONS: Oklahoma should remain solid at No. 2 with this convincing win. Top-ranked Alabama dominated Colorado State and did nothing to lose ground.
Riley felt Lamb’s targeting ejection was unwarranted.
The flag was thrown while Lamb was blocking on a reverse to Jeff Badet that would have been a 44-yard touchdown run. The second-ranked Sooners led 21-14 when the penalty was called with just under four minutes left in the second quarter.
“We expected it was going to be overturned,” Riley said. “I will keep what they said between me and them. Based on what I know, it shouldn’t have been called. We will get the interpretation from the conference.”
Referee Dan Romeo said after the game that it was upheld upon review because it was “forcible contact to the head and neck area of a defenseless player with the helmet, forearm, hand, fist or shoulder.” He said the play went beyond making a legal block.
“Can’t really comment on that one,” Lamb said.
Lamb’s 82-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter was the longest catch by a freshman in school history, and he was well within reach of the school’s freshman record for receiving yards before he was ejected.
“I feel like I was doing good,” he said. “I was contributing to the team and helping it come out victorious. Really, it was just a connection with Baker and the play calling of Riley. And I just executed the plays. I did what I had to do.”
The Sooners outscored the Green Wave 35-0 after the targeting call.
Hilliard reached 2,000 career yards in style — on a touchdown run in Norman. The 6-foot, 205-pound senior scored on a 2-yard run with 9:30 left in the first quarter to land on exactly 2,000 yards. He entered the game with 1,961 yards.
“I’m happy for it, but at the same time, you have to win games,” Hilliard said.
TULANE: The Green Wave host Army on Saturday. The Black Knights lost to Ohio State 38-7 on Saturday following wins over Fordham and Buffalo.
OKLAHOMA: The Sooners open conference play at Baylor on Saturday. Baylor fell to 0-3 after a 34-20 loss to Duke on Saturday. Baylor defeated Oklahoma in 2011, 2013 and 2014, so the Bears should have the Sooners’ attention, regardless of record.
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP .
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