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OU Football: Previewing The Sooners' Matchup With Kansas

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While Oklahoma fans will bask in the joy of Homecoming celebrations on Saturday evening, their red-hot Sooners (5-2, 4-0) will storm Owen Field with a chance to stay undefeated in Big 12 play when they take host Kansas (1-6, 0-4) at 6 p.m.

Related: Highlights From Bob Stoops' Weekly News Conference

Despite picking up their first win in nearly two years when KU opened the season against Rhode Island, the Jayhawks have dropped six straight games and were outscored 93-27 in their last two contests to Baylor and OSU.

Even though the record may not be what head coach David Beaty would like, the second-year leader has the Jayhawks competitive for parts of most games while nearly beating TCU in their fifth game if it weren’t for a couple critical mistakes.

“Being here at home with KU, a team that is much improved,” OU head coach Bob Stoops said. “Coach Beaty and his staff have done a great, great job. Doesn’t look like the same team from a year ago by any means, and every game for the most part this year, they’ve been in it late in the game with an opportunity to win.

“You see it, excellent execution offensively and defensively they’re really playing well both sides of the ball, and again a much-improved football team, much different than what their record indicates.”

Here are a few things to look out for in Saturday’s matchup:

KU quarterback Montell Cozart

While the Jayhawks have used two quarterbacks this season, it’s redshirt junior Montell Cozart who leads the team in passing with 831 yards and a 61.8 completion percentage. Cozart has seven touchdowns to his name on the season, but his six interceptions and documented struggles with ball security have cost the Jayhawks. Therefore, his head coach has stressed this week that he wants Cozart to be more of a game manager moving forward.

“You know, the quarterback that runs your offense — from a coaching standpoint for me — has always been about who manages that game,” Coach Beaty told kusports.com. “It doesn't have to be about a guy that can win it all the time, but he certainly can't lose it for you, and that's a lot more common than you think.”

The Sooners’ defense only has three total interceptions on the season, but seeing KU quarterbacks have combined to throw 14 picks in 230 passing attempts, look for Oklahoma to increase their turnover total on Saturday evening.

KU’s defense is better than its offense

Seeing the KU offense ranks 104th nationally, it’s not too tough to be a better unit on the field, but the Jayhawks do have a few playmakers on the defensive side of the ball.

Sophomore defensive end Dorance Armstrong is tied for second in the Big 12 with 7.0 sacks to go with his 22 tackles, 10 for loss and a forced fumble. Armstrong is the most disruptive player on the KU defensive front, but senior safety Fish Smithson shoulders that responsibility in the secondary. Smithson has a team-high 48 tackles to go with a sack, two interceptions and two forced fumbles.

Kansas has the 89th ranked defense in the country, but look for that number to drop after facing a potent Oklahoma offense that averages 572.3 yards per game.

Sooners will be without a few impact players

While it likely won’t have much effect on the outcome, Oklahoma will be without a few key contributors when they take the field on Saturday.

On offense, Oklahoma will be without star running back Samaje Perine, who sat out last week with a pull and is expected to miss Saturday’s game and could sit out next week against Iowa State.

On defense, the Sooners won’t have stud pass rusher Ogbonnia Okoronkwo along with defensive linemen Matt Romar, Charles Walker and Matt Dimon.

None of the injuries are too very serious, and it makes since for those guys to rest up for a tough stretch of games to close out the season. 

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