ARLINGTON, Texas — Midway through the Cotton Bowl, some fans broke out in a fervent chant.
“S-E-C! S-E-C!” they screamed.
The chants weren’t in support of the conference: In fact, they weren’t uttered by anyone clad in orange and blue. Whether it was a show of defiance or mockery, the words leaving Oklahoma fans’ lips emphasized the gulf between the two teams Wednesday night.
The Sooners had 435 rushing yards, an average of 10.9 yards per carry and three rushing touchdowns en route to a 55-20 evisceration of the Gators in the Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. UF ends its season with an 8-4 record after dropping its last three games.
The first quarter for Florida came straight out of its nightmares.
In just five plays, the Sooners commandingly marched down the field in just five plays, the last of which was a throw from Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler to the back corner of the endzone for a score. Down multiple receivers, Florida’s offense then took to the field.
From the moment quarterback Kyle Trask stepped onto the field, it was downhill from there.
The first play by the Gators’ offense was a pick six. Trask threw an interception on the next drive as well, which Oklahoma got three points on. The third drive featured a mixture of Trask and quarterback Emory Jones to get the Gators inside the redzone. Trask then threw his third pick of the first quarter that resulted in a touchback. The Sooners were unable to capitalize on that turnover and UF responded with a field goal in the red zone after forcing Rattler to fumble.
The momentum wouldn’t be enough to salvage the half.
Jones took command and led the team down the field on a 16-play drive he capped off with a rushing touchdown to get within 10. The Sooners fumbled once again on the following drive, and the Gators kicked another field goal to get within four.
“It was a great feeling to get out there,” Jones said after the game. “And the young guys getting out there on this big stage, I mean, it just put them in a position to be ready to step on any stage.”
After that, it was all Sooners: Oklahoma got more comfortable with a passing touchdown late in the half. Rattler took it in himself on his next drive under center. At the end of the half, Oklahoma was already up big 31-13.
Oklahoma didn’t plan on stopping. The next score into the third quarter came from the Sooners, who kicked a field goal from the three-yard line to extend the lead to 21. After a few punts from Florida, they found the endzone again after a run from running back Rhamondre Stevenson, which brought the lead up to 28.
Once Florida turned the ball over on downs at around the five-yard line at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the game was all but finished.
Another Rattler touchdown would be Oklahoma’s last score. Quarterback Anthony Richardson found tight end Jordan Pouncey in the endzone for a consolation score at the end of the game.
The bright start to UF’s season finally fizzled out in Arlington. But in the eyes of Mullen, the game gave way to a bright future for Florida as well.
“For the program, I'm excited,” Mullen said. “You look at the experience we were able to get out there on the field tonight, all the different young guys… Some really good experience for those guys, and a lot that we can teach off of with that group.”
Contact River Wells at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @riverhwells.