In 1999 Josh Heupel threw five touchdowns against Indiana State in his debut performance as Oklahoma’s starting quarterback. The Sooners shut out the Sycamores by a final score of 49-0 as the spread offense was introduced to the Sooner Nation. Fourteen years later Blake Bell, making his first start due to an injured Trevor Knight, threw four touchdown passes in a 51-20 win over Tulsa in the third game of the 2013 season.
As impressive as Oklahoma’s offenses have been over the last two decades, it’s hard to believe that those were the only two quarterbacks to throw four or more touchdowns in a debut as a starter since Bob Stoops changed the landscape of football in Norman back in 1999. That list grew by one on Saturday night when Spencer Rattler joined the club with his 290 yard/4 touchdown performance against Missouri State. There’s a big difference that separates Rattler from Heupel and Bell though. He’s only a freshman!
Josh Heupel and Blake Bell were both juniors when they made their starting debuts. Heupel had come from the junior college ranks and Bell cut his teeth with the “Bell-Dozer” package as a freshman and sophomore. Rattler did it as a much younger player, with much less experience, to become the first freshman quarterback to throw for four touchdowns in his debut as a starter…and he did it all in one half of play.
Rattler was 7-for-7 for 201 yards and three touchdowns on Oklahoma’s first three offensive possessions. He tacked on 89 more yards and one more score before the half to complete his debut performance and mark his place in Oklahoma Football history.
• Oklahoma improved to 97-23-6 all-time in season openers and to 79-15-4 in home openers.
• Attendance for Saturday’s game at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium was a sellout crowd of 22,700. It was the smallest crowd for an OU home game since Nov. 10, 1945, when 11,000 fans witnessed a 14-7 Homecoming win over Iowa State.
• Twenty-two players made their first appearance in an Oklahoma uniform on Saturday. Six players made their first OU starts: QB Spencer Rattler, RB Marcus Major, TE/H-Back Austin Stogner, WR Theo Wease, DE Isaiah Thomas and LB Brian Asamoah.
• Fifteen first-year Sooners saw the field in the season opener. They were redshirt senior WR Theo Howard, junior DL Perrion Winfrey, sophomore DL Josh Ellison and 12 true freshmen (DL Noah Arinze, WR Marcellus Crutchfield, CB Joshua Eaton, DL Reggie Grimes, TE/H Mikey Henderson, RB Seth McGowan, QB Chandler Morris, WR Marvin Mims, OL Noah Nelson, K/P Zach Schmit, LB Brynden Walker and WR Trevon West).
• The shutout was Oklahoma’s first in a season opener since 2013 (34-0 vs. UL-Monroe). It was OU’s first shutout overall since a 55-0 win at Kansas State in 2015.
• Oklahoma scored 31 points in the first quarter for the sixth time in school history, the first time since 2008 (35 points vs. Nebraska) and the first time in a season opener since 2001 (31 points vs. North Carolina).
• Missouri State’s 135 yards of total offense were the ninth-fewest allowed by Oklahoma in a season opener, and the fewest since 2008 (36 yards by UT Chattanooga).
• Twelve Sooners caught a pass from three quarterbacks in the game.
• Oklahoma scored a touchdown on its season-opening offensive possession for the fifth consecutive year. It is the longest such streak in program history.
• Became the first Oklahoma freshman quarterback to throw fourtouchdown passes in his first career start.
• Set OU freshman records for passing efficiency rating (303.3), yards per completion (23.71) and yards per attempt (17.06). His passing efficiency rating is also a Big 12 record for a freshman, and the third-highest passer rating overall in Oklahoma history.
• Became the second OU freshman QB in his starting debut with two touchdown passes of at least 50 yards (also Sam Bradford vs. North Texas in 2007). Only Rattler, Bradford and Kyler Murray (2018 vs. Florida Atlantic as a junior) have thrown two TD passes of at least 50 yards in a season opener.
• Led OU with seven total tackles (one solo, six assists) and added one tackle for loss and one pass breakup in his first career start.
• Became the first OU true freshman running back to score two touchdowns in his debut since Kejuan Jones in 2002 vs. Tulsa.
• Led the Sooners with 61 rushing yards and a TD on nine carries (6.8 yards per rush).
• Scored his first career touchdown on a 16-yard pass from QB Tanner Mordecai in the fourth quarter. He led the Sooners with five receptions totaling 63 yards (12.6 average) in his Oklahoma debut.
• Registered two receiving touchdowns in the first half (scores of 53 and 15 yards). It was his second career game with two receiving touchdowns (also at UCLA in 2019).
• Finished the game with 148 all-purpose yards (80 receiving yards and three punt returns for 68 yards). It was the second-most all-purpose yards by an OU freshman in his career debut (Joe Washington holds the record with 157 all-purpose yards in 1972 against Utah State).
• Recorded his first career interception in the third quarter.
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