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Column: Experiencing Oklahoma football during a pandemic

Beau Bearden
bbearden@gannett.com

With the way COVID-19 has made it difficult for media to cover sporting events, I didn’t expect to get the opportunity to attend a University of Oklahoma football game this season. To my surprise, I received an email during the week saying I was approved for Kansas at Oklahoma on Saturday afternoon in Norman.

While it wasn’t the easiest situation with all of my prep football responsibilities, I made it work and witnessed the Sooners take care of business in a 62-9 victory in front of a very social-distanced crowd.

However, I'll admit it was odd to see Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium so empty. It was my first time inside the facility, and I bet the place is rocking when it’s at full capacity.

The will-call window said tickets were sold out, so I’m sure Oklahoma athletics allowed as many fans as they could.

Ardmorite sports editor Beau Bearden

Nevertheless, it was a different vibe without the usual amount of crowd noise at a college football game. It didn’t sound like there was much artificial noise and that made it odd as you could only hear faint cheers at different points in the game.

While I can't compare it to pre-COVID times in Oklahoma, I can match the experience to my time working for the San Diego State Athletic Department.

It was always loud during the Aztec football games, and that’s saying a lot considering SDSU played in Qualcomm Stadium, where the Chargers called home before bolting for Los Angeles.

However, I’ll get back to OU and say it was pretty cool to see the Sooner Schooner take the field following a touchdown. I’m used to individual mascots, but Oklahoma’s horse-drawn wagon definitely tops the list of ones to see in person.

Another thing I enjoyed was hearing the snap of fireworks following every score. It’s good to know the Sooners can still provide a exciting game experience despite the pandemic.

Oklahoma made sure to do that on the field as quarterback Spencer Rattler and the offense scored 31 unanswered points before Kansas kicked a last-second field goal before halftime.

The Oklahoma faithful wasn’t having it though, as the fans tossed the ball up the stands before it was thrown out the stadium.

That enthusiasm pretty much disappeared in the second half as the Sooners kept their foot on the gas and didn't allow Kansas to score a touchdown until the final play of the game.

But it wasn’t too surprising since the Jayhawks entered Saturday without a win and saw that skid increase to seven games in a blowout loss.

The Sooners now prepare for a much-anticipated home matchup against Oklahoma State on Saturday, Nov. 21. A kickoff time hasn’t been announced, but it wouldn’t be too surprising to see an evening start on ABC or ESPN.

Only time will tell what happens, but I look forward to covering OU when life is back to normal and the Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium is packed with fans chanting "Boomer Sooner."