Without star receiver Damaris Johnson, Bill Blankenship didn't stand much of a chance against No. 1 Oklahoma in his debut as Tulsa's head coach.
The Golden Hurricane scuffled on offense until they were hopelessly behind, losing 47-14 to the Sooners on Saturday night.
Blankenship, who was promoted from receivers coach after Todd Graham left to become Pittsburgh's head coach, had to suspend Johnson - a second-team All-American and the NCAA career record holder in all-purpose yardage and kickoff returns - eight days before the season.
Then he blamed himself after no one seemed to fill Johnson's void.
''I'll be honest with you, I'm not sure I gave those guys enough chances,'' Blankenship said. ''We were a little conservative trying to protect those guys a little bit, just trying to find out who our go-to-guys are.''
H-back Willie Carter ended up as Tulsa's leading receiver with five catches for 135 yards. He had receptions of 69 and 44 yards.
Bryan Burnham caught a quick pass from G.J. Kinne against broken coverage for the Golden Hurricane's first touchdown, and Trey Watts - the son of former Sooners quarterback J.C. Watts - scored on a 24-yard catch and run in the fourth quarter.
But all of that came after Oklahoma had taken a 30-0 lead in the second quarter.
''It was difficult. He's one of our best players, but we don't make excuses around here,'' said Kinne, who had 271 yards on 18 of 33 passing. ''We have some great guys behind him and I have to build a relationship with those guys. That will come over time and make the team better.''
The Golden Hurricane need answers quickly. Their September schedule includes games against No. 9 Oklahoma State and No. 5 Boise State.
''When coach told us, it was like a stab in the heart to the team,'' Carter said. ''We came together and somebody has to step up and fill those shoes. We just have to keep moving forward.''
Landry Jones went 35-for-47 for 375 yards and Ryan Broyles came up just shy of his own Oklahoma receptions record with 14 for 158 yards. Dominique Whaley ran for 131 yards and four TDs as the Sooners extended the nation's longest home winning streak with their 37th straight win on Owen Field.
Broyles' 4-yard touchdown catch put Oklahoma up 30-0 with 4:23 left before halftime. Tulsa went three-and-out three times and turned it over twice in the first half.
''The bottom line is we can't control what they do,'' Kinne said. ''We have to execute and we didn't do that very well tonight.''
The Sooners opened at No. 1 for the first time since 2003, after holding the top spot for only two weeks over the past seven seasons. They were selected as the preseason favorite after a solid finish to last season that included the end of a five-game losing streak in BCS bowl games.
Jones got in a groove early by hooking up with Broyles - the nation's leader last season with 131 receptions - seven times for 120 yards in the first quarter, then everyone else got involved.
''I feel like after he got going, he started spreading the ball out,'' Broyles said. ''When I'm playing a game, I don't think he's just looking at me.''
One of the stars ended up being someone who, until recently, had been mostly off the radar as the Sooners sought a replacement for DeMarco Murray, who was drafted into the NFL after setting the school's record for career touchdowns.
Whaley, a walk-on who formerly played at Langston University of the NAIA, emerged in a tie with Brennan Clay for the starting spot at running back this week. He had three short touchdown runs in the first half and then ran through three potential tackles on a 32-yarder that pushed the Sooners lead to 44-7 late in the third quarter.
The Sooners hadn't been No. 1 since a two-week stretch in October 2008 that ended when fifth-ranked Texas pulled off the upset in the Red River Rivalry. Oklahoma went on to lose to Florida in the national championship game, but never got back on top of the rankings.
''We always talk about '08 and how hard they worked. We show clips of it all the time,'' Broyles said. ''So, we definitely feel like we have the team that can do those same things, and we just have to keep plugging away.''