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Brent Venables, Lincoln Riley Shine at OU, Make USC Coaching Debut

Brent Venables and Lincoln Riley are each perfect for their new head coach positions.

With Riley leaving after last season and Venables taking over, Oklahoma State took a commanding 21-0 lead against UTEP in the first quarter on Saturday, contributing to a 45-13 win.

Venables, who was Oklahoma’s assistant from 1999-2011 and Clemson’s defensive coordinator from 2012-21, feels Oklahoma played a “clean” and complementary game.

“I thought our coaches and players really showed their readiness, especially in the first quarter, and complemented each other very well. That’s what you have to do.”

A balanced rushing offense led the way for Oklahoma as the Sooners finished with 259 yards on the ground. Eric Gray tallied 102 yards on 16 rushing attempts, and three sooners reached the end zone on the ground, including UCF transfer quarterback Dillon Gabriel, who ran for a 12-yard score.

Running back Marcus Major had two rushing touchdowns, and wide receiver Gavin Freeman reversed to break through the UTEP defense for a 46-yard score. Venables called Freeman “fearless”.

Gabriel made an effective debut in the air, finishing the game with 233 passing yards and two passing touchdowns, completing 15 of 23 throws.

On the other side of the ball, Oklahoma held UTEP to just 28 rushing yards, with quarterbacks Gavin Hardison and Calvin Braunholz completing just 60% of their combined passes.

Oklahoma will host Kent State University in Week 2 of the college football season on Sept. 10.

Meanwhile, Riley and USC had their own fun on Saturday as they beat Rice 66-14.

After a back-and-forth start, the Trojans found themselves in a ditch, scoring 24 points in the second quarter. They took over control after halftime and he scored three touchdowns in his first six minutes of the third quarter.

Riley was just one of the few newcomers to make his Trojan debut. Oklahoma transfer quarterback Caleb Williams and Pittsburgh transfer receiver Jordan Addison were among them, and both college stars quickly found the spotlight.

Williams finished with 249 passing yards and two passing touchdowns while completing 19 of 22 throws. The quarterback also recorded 68 rushing yards on six rushing attempts.

Riley said that “the defense was the story” for the Trojans and felt their offense played a balanced game.

“We were decent,” Riley said of his attack. “We played pretty error-free for the most part. I think we stayed in front of the chain. Everybody did a really good job protecting Caleb. He had a lot of time. We’ve played a few things, left a few things out, on both sides. This is a typical first game. There are many good things, for sure.

Addison finished with five receptions for 54 yards and two touchdowns. USC scored 28 points in the third quarter and forced four interceptions, three of which were returned for touchdowns by Karen Block, Shane Lee, and Lehlen Goforth.

USC moves to Stamford on September 10th.

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