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Oklahoma Preview

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This could get ugly.

NCAA Football: Oklahoma at Kansas Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas will attempt to pull off the highly unlikely as the Oklahoma Sooners come to Lawrence for a Big 12... showdown?

The Jayhawks (1-5, 0-3) enter the matchup having dropped a 45-14 affair to Texas Tech in Lawrence last week. Meanwhile, the Sooners (7-0, 4-0) come in off a 52-31 home win over TCU.

PREGAME

Kansas has not defeated Oklahoma since 1997; the Sooners are on a 16-game win streak against the Jayhawks.

Kansas has not defeated a top-5 opponent at home since beating Oklahoma in 1984.

Kwamie Lassiter moved into 10th in the school record books in receptions last week. He needs 8 more to pass Richard Estell for 9th all-time.

Kansas currently ranks in the bottom-10 in FBS in: Scoring Offense, Rushing Defense, Total Defense, Scoring Defense, Net Punting.

FIRST DOWN

This series has not been close since Mark Mangino left town - and even he could only get within two scores of the the Sooners twice in four tries (2005, 2008). Oklahoma just doesn’t play down to its competition the way some schools do (Texas, cough).

In fact, since 2011 the average score of a KU-OU game has been 50-13. Kansas has only scored in double digits in four of those 10 matchups, and only scored more than 20 points once - the “Pooka Williams” game in 2018.

This is a Kansas team that is 0-6 against the spread this year. There’s absolutely no reason to think OU won’t keep that streak alive this week. Basically, despite their “issues” it boils down to this: Oklahoma good, Kansas bad.

SECOND DOWN

About those issues. Offensively, OU has been rejuvenated on offense with the emergence of freshman QB Caleb Williams, who replaced an ineffective Spencer Rattler in the Texas game two weeks ago. Williams was the consensus #1 QB recruit in last year’s class. (Rattler was the consensus #1 QB in the 2019 class.)

So obviously, Oklahoma is struggling at the quarterback position.

That was sarcasm, because OU ranks first in the Big 12 in passing offense and total offense and is a top-20 team in FBS in those categories as well. The rush offense isn’t ranked quite as high, but the Sooners still average nearly 200 rush yards per game. Meanwhile, Kansas has allowed an average of 267 rush yards over its past five games. Unstoppable object, meet movable force.

THIRD DOWN

Meanwhile, KU’s offensive struggles are becoming more and more evident each week. Indeed, last week was a huge indictment against KU (both offensively AND defensively) as the Jayhawks couldn’t do anything against the league’s 9th-best team. Jason Bean had his worst outing against one of the worst defenses he’ll see all year, and while the KU offensive line has only allowed one sack in its last four games, I shudder to think what OU’s D-line will do on Saturday.

FOURTH DOWN

S&P+ ranks Oklahoma at #9 this week, with Kansas down at #123 (out of 130). It gives the Sooners a 97% chance at victory, and predicts a 48-14 OU win.

ESPN’s FPI Matchup Predictor is not too much different, giving the Sooners a 98.6% chance of victory.

Meanwhile, Sagarin prefers the Sooners by a similar margin, giving OU a 97% chance to come away victorious. Sagarin has Kansas ranked #140 and Oklahoma ranked #4 (out of 258).

PREDICTION

First one to 20 wins?

Look, Oklahoma is the class of the Big 12, and even though they’ve had “issues” by their standards - including a defense that probably isn’t good enough to win a national title - they completely outclass Kansas in every phase of the game.

If KU is going to be competitive, here is what has to happen. The Jayhawks will have to throw caution to the wind. Go for it on every 4th down. I don’t care if its 4th-and-22 from their own 7 yard line. GO. FOR. IT. Punting won’t get you anything in this game; the OU offense is going to score regardless of which 25-yard line it starts on. KU punted twice against OU in 2018 and lost by two touchdowns because why? Because OU never punted.

Related, convert those third and especially fourth downs. Keep OU off the field. OU (and Texas) have made tackling look really hard this year, so get Devin Neal going, roll Bean out of the pocket, etc etc. Additionally, chew clock! Run the play clock down to 1 second on every snap.

And finally, in order to complete the upset, one of the following will need to happen: OU’s first and second string all get suspended and/or the buses get lost on their way to the stadium, or, KU ends up +8 in turnovers. (Hey - it’s happened before!)

Or maybe both.

Anyway, I look for Spencer Rattler to get his Heisman campaign restarted in the second half - or possibly even the second quarter. He’s got his eyes on the NFL, and I don’t expect Lincoln Riley to close the playbook when the backups come in. Rather, I expect them to take advantage of the opportunity to get some snaps in and get some more of Rattler on film.

This has the makings of an absolute thrashing. Oklahoma 73, Kansas 14.

EXTRA POINT

To this point in the 2021 season, Oklahoma had made more field goals (17-20) than Kansas has scored touchdowns (13). For a full comparison, Oklahoma has 35 TDs on season.