7:00 PM ET, October 18, 2003
Memorial Stadium (Norman, OK), Norman, OK
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- Having taken yet another brutal hit, Brad Smith was left sprawled on the turf.
The Missouri quarterback slowly picked himself off the ground and limped for the sideline. He didn't come into the game again.
The Oklahoma Sooners had finally caught up with Smith.
Smith gave Oklahoma a scare in the first half, but Jason White threw for 278 yards and two touchdowns and Antonio Perkins tied a Division I-A record with his seventh career punt return for a touchdown as the top-ranked Sooners beat No. 24 Missouri 34-13 on Saturday night.
"We wanted him to beat us with his arm and not his feet and I think we were successful," said Oklahoma defensive end Dan Cody, who had one of the five sacks of Smith. "We're in such good shape that we knew we'd wear him down."
The Sooners (7-0, 3-0 Big 12) looked a little sluggish at the start, a week after their 65-13 dismantling of Texas.
Many of Oklahoma's early struggles were caused by Smith, the multitalented Missouri quarterback who rolled up nearly 400 yards of offense and three touchdowns against the Sooners last year as the Tigers nearly pulled off the upset in a 31-24 loss.
But Oklahoma scored three touchdowns in the final seven minutes of the first half to turn the game into a rout.
"We didn't handle the emotion and the intensity of an impact play," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. "They can strike fast and hard. Most teams they put 60 (points) on."
Perkins' 64-yard punt return with 1:02 left in the first half gave Oklahoma a 31-10 lead. The score left Missouri noticeably deflated as the Sooners whooped their way into the locker room for halftime while many of the Tigers slowly jogged off the field.
The touchdown return was Perkins' fourth this season and seventh of his career, both equaling Division I-A records. The junior cornerback broke a single-game mark against UCLA earlier this season with three returns for score.
"What a special young man," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "He just has an incredible ability and showed it again tonight. You just hold your breath every time he has (the ball)."
The record-breaking -- and back-breaking -- return came near the end of the half.
Perkins caught the ball off a hop, juked a couple of defenders and sprinted down the left sideline and into the NCAA record book.
White, the nation's leader in pass efficiency, also got the Sooners going with two touchdown throws in the second quarter.
The first was an up-for-grabs toss into the end zone that Mark Clayton wrestled away from safety Nino Williams. The 39-yard throw gave the Sooners a 17-10 lead.
Clayton, who set a school record with 190 yards receiving against Texas, finished with eight catches for 110 yards.
Jejuan Rankins had the other touchdown grab on a fourth-and-6 play from Missouri's 30 with 2:40 left in the half. Rankins, generously listed at 5-foot-11, 172 pounds, caught the ball just shy of the first-down marker and broke four tackles on his way to the score.
Before that, Smith raced all around Oklahoma's vaunted defense to complete long passes or rip off big runs.
The sophomore's first-half performance was remarkably similar to last year's against Oklahoma.
He scored on a 26-yard run early in the second quarter to make it 10-10 -- only the second time Oklahoma has been tied all season.
The homecoming crowd of 83,327 -- which broke the OU attendance mark for a fourth-straight game -- sat in stunned silence as the Tigers (5-2, 1-2) looked poised to knock off their second consecutive Top 10 team following last week's 41-24 upset of Nebraska.
At that point, Smith had 192 yards of offense against the nation's third-ranked defense.
But the Sooners eventually caught up with Smith and the Tigers, holding them to just 84 yards and five first downs in the second half.
"We couldn't do anything against their defense," Pinkel said. "Standing on the sidelines, you really get a feel of just how good and just how much speed they have. They're a team without weaknesses."
Smith was battered around so much -- he was sacked three straight times on his final series -- that he was taken out for Missouri's final two possessions of the game. He was 15-of-31 for 180 yards with one interception and ran for 50 yards on 17 carries.
"That's a great quarterback. At first, our mind-set wasn't where it was supposed to be," Oklahoma defensive tackle Tommie Harris said. "But we went back to the drawing board at halftime and started clicking like we're supposed to."
Since Stoops arrived in Norman in 1999, the Sooners have easily managed to avoid a post-Texas hangover. The Sooners are 5-0 in games following the Red River Shootout, winning by a combined score of 213-63.
Missouri hasn't won in Norman since 1966, a skid of 16 straight games. The Tigers are also 0-10 against No. 1-ranked teams.