Tennessee played the role of the New Kids on the Block — literally — Saturday night, hanging tough with No.4 Oklahoma through the first two quarters.
The last two quarters, however, showed just how far the Vols have to go to get back in the general vicinity of the national stage. And how the team on the other sidelines should very much be in the College Football Playoff discussion deep into the 2014 season.
Trailing by 13 at the end of the first half, the Vols had no second-half answers as the Sooners had their way with the visitors en route to a 34-10 win.
OU outgained UT 454-313 while also scoring a defensive touchdown. Trevor Knight now has two career 300-yard games, and both came in Oklahoma wins over SEC teams: 304 on Tennessee, 348 on Alabama in the 2014 Sugar Bowl.
The Sooners defense harassed and harangued Justin Worley all night, sacking the Vols quarterback on six different occasions. Two other sacks were wiped out by defensive penalties, while Worley was either knocked down or pressured more than a dozen additional times.
The non-conference slate for OU is now complete, meaning the Sooners are set to start Big 12 play. And, at least on paper, it bodes well for their postseason hopes.
Their first two conference games are on the road, but they’re against West Virginia and TCU. The Sooners will be heavy favorites in both. OU’s toughest remaining games come against Kansas State, Baylor and Oklahoma State; all three of those will be played in the friendly confines of Memorial Stadium in Norman.
Nothing is a certainty in the wild and wacky Big 12, but things are setting up very, very nicely for the Sooners in the first year of the four-team playoff.