Says cornerback Darnell Walker, "We are kind of under surveillance. But we know it's in our best interest."
Pitt went west with its own new look. Paul Hackett, 43, the Panthers' offensive coordinator last season, replaced Mike Gottfried as head coach near the end of the year and installed the high-tech ideas (he tripled the size of the playbook) he brought to Pitt from his NFL years as an assistant with Dallas, San Francisco and Cleveland. The Panthers began the season with easy wins over Ohio University and Boston College, but Hackett knew those two teams were a far cry from Oklahoma.
What the Panthers were missing Saturday was any offensive continuity and a solution to the Sooners' I-formation option. Oklahoma had opened its first two series against UCLA by throwing, and Pitt was prepared when Collins took his first snap, faked run and faded back with 13:09 to go in the first quarter. Nonetheless, wing-back Otis Taylor cleared the cornerback, gathered in Collins's floater and went 71 yards into the end zone. Not even the hoariest Oklahoman could recall when the Sooners had scored that early in the game through the air.
The Sooners moved with ease, especially the powerful Rasheed on up-the-gut blasts and traps. Rasheed, brought up a Muslim, enrolled at Oklahoma even though during a recruiting visit the Sooners served him pork, which he doesn't eat, and even though Oklahoma has a scarcity of pass plays to the fullback, which he loves. On Saturday, Rasheed, whose surname means "the wise one who follows intelligent guidance," shrewdly steered his size-16 feet through sizable holes, where he gathered followers and dragged them forward. "People get tired of tackling 230-pound backs," said Rasheed. "Eventually, they get kind of passive."
Which is when the Oklahoma offense gets active.