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158: Sooners Use Punishing Ground Game To Put Stoops On Top

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Bennie Owen. Bud Wilkinson. Barry Switzer. Bob Stoops.

The pantheon of legendary football coaches at Oklahoma has a new leader, as Stoops got career win No. 158 to move into first place on the Sooners' all-time wins list, thanks to a 41-31 win over Kansas State on Saturday.

The Sooners won in a way that would make all of Stoops' predecessors happy. Oklahoma rushed for 303 yards for the game and held the Wildcats to 101 yards in the second half, intercepting KSU quarterback Jake Waters twice, one of which was returned 74 yards by Zach Sanchez to put Oklahoma up 41-24 with 11:47 to play.

Trevor Knight made his third start of the season for the Sooners and while he was far from perfect, he did a lot of good things to help the Sooners win their fifth straight game in Manhattan. Knight finished the day 14-of-20 passing for 171 yards and a 12-yard touchdown pass to Sterling Shepard on the opening drive of the game. Knight did throw an interception in the first quarter on a terribly underthrown pass to Jalen Saunders, but for the most part, made good decisions, especially with his feet. Knight finished the game with 14 carries for 82 yards and a touchdown.

The real hero of the game for Oklahoma was running back Brennan Clay, who stepped into the void left by the suspended Damien Williams and had a career day. Clay ran for 200 yards and two scores on 31 carries, averaging 6.5 yards a carry.

As much as Oklahoma dominated the first quarter and the second half, the second quarter belonged to Kansas State wide receiver Tyler Lockett. Lockett, a Booker T. Washington product, finished the game with 12 catches for 278 yards and three touchdowns, all in the second quarter. Locket also had 162 kickoff return yards, finishing the day with 440 all-purpose yards.

Locket and Waters hooked up for three second quarter touchdowns of 48, 30 and 90 yards, each the result of poor coverage from the OU secondary. The first touchdown came as a result of a blown coverage from Sanchez and safety Quentin Hayes. On the second touchdown, cornerback Cortez Johnson bit on a double move, allowing Lockett to slip behind him for the score. On the 90-yard score, Lockett simply out-ran Sanchez on a post route, and once Sanchez missed the tackle, Lockett was gone.

Waters finished the game 17-of-29 for 348 yards, easily his best passing performance of the season. However, he also threw two interceptions in addition to his three scores to Lockett.

The Oklahoma defense was stout against the run all afternoon, holding the Wildcats to a mere 24 yards on 22 carries. John Hubert had 17 yards on nine carries, but 13 yards came on a single rush.

The Sooners raced out to a 14-0 lead thanks to Knight's touchdown pass to Shepard and a nifty eight-yard touchdown run from Knight. The second score capped a 14-play, 98-yard drive that Oklahoma gained exclusively on the ground.

Kansas State roared back to knot the score at 14, but the Sooners responded immediately. On third down and one, Clay ripped off a 64-yard touchdown run with Aaron Ripkowski and Durron Neal picking up key blocks to spring the San Diego native for the score.

The Sooners dominated the time of possession in the third quarter. Even though Oklahoma only managed a single field goal, the Sooners held the ball for 9:49 of the quarter and prevented the KSU offense from continuing to build on the momentum it had grabbed in the second quarter.

Oklahoma took control in the fourth quarter thanks to its defense. After forcing a three-and-out at the Kansas State three-yard line, KSU punter Mark Krause put a poor punt into the wind that Jalen Saunders caught at the 30-yard line and returned to the original line of scrimmage. Clay went into the end zone on the next play for a 34-24 lead.

A huge kickoff return by Lockett and a horse collar tackle penalty gave Kansas State the ball at the Oklahoma 38-yard line. Two plays later, Sanchez out-muscled Curry Sexton for the ball and took it to the house to ice the game for the Sooners.

Oklahoma has a bye week before traveling to Stillwater Dec. 7 to take on Oklahoma State in Bedlam. The Sooners will be looking to pick up win No. 10 and win 10 games for the seventh time in the last eight seasons.

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