NORMAN, Okla. -- They came to sweat, one way or another, at No. 4 Oklahoma's sweltering season opener on Sunday.

Auditioning for the role of keeper of the OU championship flame -- and the Sooners' potential third consecutive Heisman Trophy winner -- was graduate transfer quarterback Jalen Hurts.

No pressure, big guy.

Yup, the expectations were as high as the temperatures (mid-90s) in Gaylord Family OU Memorial Stadium. Both Hurts and alcohol made their debut in the 125-year-old structure.

One guess which of those the Sooners faithful got higher on.

As for carrying the fine crystal that is another Big 12 championship and College Football Playoff run, Hurts not only passed the test, he … well … passed. And ran. And led the way to a 49-31 win over Houston that may have blown a few minds, too.

Making his first start in 20 months, Hurts debuted at OU with a game for the ages. And by ages, we mean the 125-year history of Oklahoma football.

With 508 yards of total offense, he broke his personal record while registering the fifth-highest total in Oklahoma history, only 81 yards behind Baker Mayfield's top mark (589). His six touchdowns in a single game (three each running and passing) were a career best and tied for second behind Mayfield and Kyler Murray (seven each) in the Sooners' record book. Oh, and he's also the first Oklahoma quarterback to ever pass for 300+ and rush for 150+ in the same game.

Hurts had the audacity to misfire on three of his 23 passes.

We either forgot or didn't realize Hurts was this good a thrower. He showed glimpses of it last season in leading Alabama back against Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. As a runner, he's clearly as good or perhaps better at that particular skill than the last two OU quarterbacks whose legacies he is chasing. Hurts sifted through Houston's defense for 176
yards and three touchdowns.

"I'm not the same player I was as an 18-year-old freshman, a 19-year-old sophomore and last year getting the time I did," Hurts said after the game.

The muscle car of an offense Lincoln Riley has built in two seasons at OU shows no signs of slowing down. Last year's unit gained 10 yards or more an average of 20.5 times per game. In the first half alone, the Sooners posted 19 such gains on Sunday.

Viva, Jalen!

Just a reminder: This was only the beginning of his final college season after transferring from Alabama.

Hurts is at a place where he can speak more freely to the media. He had been largely sequestered for three years at Alabama under Nick Saban. He spoke but he seldom elaborated. It's clear Hurts has had something to say this whole time, and there's only so much he can express on the field.

"The story isn't over. It's never over," Hurts said. "It ends when I die. I hope that doesn't happen anytime soon." 

Bubbling beneath the surface is a fully-formed 21-year-old athlete and man, a well-dressed senior leader with a yearning. It's clear that part of what is driving him is losing that starting job at Alabama.

"He plays with a chip on his shoulder," OU wide receiver CeeDee Lamb said. "He wants everybody to know he still has it. I feel like he's just getting his feet wet."

When told of Lamb's assessment, Hurts told CBS Sports, "It's not a chip; it's a boulder." 

Why, exactly?

"You know why," Hurts said. "The message I have for my teammates is to play with that purpose. Everybody has a different 'why.' Everybody has their pain that they deal with."

Clearly, the pain Hurts is referencing is losing the starting job at Alabama to Tua Tagovailoa.

Hurts does not need to worry about losing this gig. In this one spectacular performance on Sunday, Hurts began living up to the legacies left behind by Mayfield and Murray, Oklahoma's back-to-back Heisman winners.

That's not saying the Sooners will necessarily win a fifth consecutive outright Big 12 title, advance to a third straight College Football Playoff or see Hurts follow in the footsteps of his immediate quarterback predecessors at OU.

But as of opening night? All of it seems more likely than not.

Think about it: With Week 1 coming to a close Monday, Hurts posted the best performance of opening weekend. It isn't even close. There's a marathon to go, and Hurts seems up to it.

"He's patiently eager," Riley said. "I don't even know if that makes sense. I don't know if those two words have been used together. You can tell he's just appreciative of the moment."

In separate conversations Saturday night and Sunday with Hurts, Riley said there was "some emotion from him, a quick reminisce of what he's been through." 

It's clear that since being yanked at halftime of the 2018 CFP National Championship against Georgia, something profound has happened to Hurts' game. It's better, slicker, looser, more productive.

There's lots of credit to go around -- Saban, former Bama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley, Riley.

Hurts jumping from one championship program to lead another in his final season is rare. While his friend, Tagovailoa, is on a parallel title track at Bama, Hurts has a chance to make history -- winning a championship at two different places as a starting quarterback.

Wouldn't it be wonderful for college football if the one-time teammates met for a national title? 

"There's this whole unprecedented situation, playing at a school like Alabama and playing at a school like Oklahoma," Hurts said. "Ain't many people in the world who can say they've done that." 

It sounded for moment like Hurts had endured some sort of crucible.

Sunday gave Hurts the opportunity to remind the college football world that he has a national championship ring, too. Oh, and he's also a former SEC Offensive Player of the Year (2016).

In other words, it's already been one hell of a career.

Hard to believe the Oklahoma part of it is just beginning.