It was hot, humid and they were sharing a field with fourth-ranked Oklahoma.
All in all, the South Dakota Coyotes were out of their element.
Jalen Hurts completed 14 of 18 passes for 259 yard and 3 touchdowns in an abbreviated night, while OU pitched a shut out through most of the first three quarters Saturday at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
CeeDee Lamb erupted for six catches for 144 yards and a TD — all in the first half — mostly on big plays that helped OU build a 28-0 lead by halftime.
It was the junior receiver’s biggest game of the young season, kickstarted by a 48-yard catch in the first quarter, where Lamb outfought a defensive back in one-on-one coverage.
“We’ve always been on the same page,” Lamb said of Hurts, “but for it to show in a game, for us to show out, it’s a confidence boost.”
Each of Lamb’s six targets turned into six catches of 15 yards or more. OU coach Lincoln Riley called the 48-yard connection a good decision by Hurts, if for no reason than Lamb will win most of those battles.
OU’s most talented, experienced receiver only connected with Hurts twice last week as 10 different Sooners caught passes. Thirteen players had catches Sunday.
“He’s a ballplayer,” said Hurts, who finished with 306 yards. “He’s a great player and he’s got great ability. He’s hard to cover.
“I think it all just comes down to execution. Over the course of the season I’m trying to build relationships with all the receivers on the field. We’re trying to build that chemistry … I think the biggest thing for us is no matter who’s on the field, we’ve still got to be effective.”
The Sooners averaged 10.6 yards per play against South Dakota, which surrendered 733 yards of offense.
It was an inauspicious start, though.
After going more than three quarters without a punt against Houston, OU (2-0) kicked away after its first possession versus the Coyotes (0-2). Penalties also cost OU from launching quicker and the Sooners finished with 12 altogether.
But 423 yards passing and 310 rushing still took its toll on South Dakota, which was the first FCS opponent visiting OU since 2012.
The Sooners’ starting defense pitched a shutout before the backups relented late in the third quarter, giving up two scores to make it 56-14. South Dakota finished with 348 total yards.
OU sophomore defensive back Brendan Radley-Hiles jumped in front of Austin Simmons’ pass and returned an interception 30 yards for a touchdown, upping the lead to 35-0 with 14:03 in the third quarter.
Radley-Hiles was part of the first takeaways of the Alex Grinch era. Earlier, he fell on a fumble forced by defensive tackle Neville Gallimore. OU finished with three forced turnovers, its most since 2017 at Oklahoma State.
Those took some pressure off the defense, which had been harping about its newfound direction but failed to force a turnover against Houston last week.
“It was the No. 1 thing we talked about all week, defensively,” Riley said. “It was turnovers, turnovers, turnovers.”
Those were especially pleasing to Grinch.
“Obviously, my frustration a week ago, I couldn’t hide it,” Grinch said. “It’s something that has to [happen] for us to play that type of defense that we want to play around here.
“It was a rip-the-band-aid off kind of deal.”
In the end, it was a predictable result. The Coyotes (0-2) came in massive underdogs, with the pre-game betting line making OU a 45-point favorite hours before kickoff.
OU travels to UCLA next week in its first road game this season.
“Excited with the way things played out with playing so many guys,” Riley said. “I think that is one of the big highlights tonight is getting so many guys on all three sides of the ball so many opportunities.”