Big Miss: Mistakes Doom Oklahoma Against Wildcats

Saturday, October 18th 2014, 6:00 pm
By: News 9

You knew it was going to be a strange game when Oklahoma fullback Aaron Ripkowski was ejected for targeting on the second possession of the game.

Unfortunately for Oklahoma, none of the weirdness went in favor of the Sooners on Saturday, as Kansas State took advantage of several OU mistakes to take down the Sooners, 31-30.

It was the second straight win for Kansas State in Norman, but while the 2012 win was about Kansas State lining up and overpowering Oklahoma in every way, Saturday's win was about a very disciplined Wildcat team taking advantage of several mistakes by the Sooners.

Two interceptions, one thrown by receiver Durron Neal on a reverse pass that killed a great drive at the end of the third quarter, two missed field goals—including a 19-yarder with 3:53 remaining—and a blocked extra point were just too much for the Sooners to overcome. The missed kicks were particularly baffling, as kicker Michael Hunnicutt is one of the best kickers in the country and arguably the most reliable player on the OU roster.

What the Sooners didn't do on Saturday was lose the game because of a bad offensive showing. Trevor Knight, Sterling Shepard and company looked very good throughout the game, rolling up 533 yards of total offense, 335 through the air and 198 on the ground.

Knight was very impressive, looking nothing like the quarterback that struggled the past two weeks. He finished the day 26-of-32 for 318 yards and three touchdowns. But his one interception was a huge gaffe that put the Sooners in a hole they never completely climbed out of.

Tied at seven and with a first down on the OU 1-yard line, Knight fired a quick out to the far side of the field that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Danzel McDaniel, giving the Wildcats a 14-7 lead.

Knight also suffered a left shoulder injury in the first quarter—coincidentally on the same play Ripkowski was ejected on—and left for a series. Backup Cody Thomas came in and directed a touchdown drive, hitting both his passes and corralling a bad snap to rush for a key first down in the process.

Also suffering a first half injury was Shepard, who fell on a camera in the back of the end zone trying to make a spectacular catch. Shepard injured his hip and went to the locker room early, but returned in the second half. It's a good thing, too. Shepard was sensational once again for OU, tying a school record with 15 catches for 197 yards and a touchdown.

Shepard's touchdown catch came on the very next possession after Knight's pick-six. Knight hit Blake Bell for 22 yards and then found a streaking Shepard down the middle for a 47-yard strike that tied the score at 14.

The OU defense struggled in the first half once again, giving up 155 passing yards to Jake Waters in the first half, 70 of those going to Tyler Lockett and another 62 going to Glenn Gronkowski on a beautiful pop-pass play for a touchdown that completely fooled the OU defense.

The first major weird moment came at the end of the first half, as Hunnicutt pulled a 32-yard field goal wide left as time expired. It wouldn't be the last time.

In the second half, it was the KSU run game that gashed the Sooner defense. On the first play of Kansas State's first two second-half possessions, Waters reeled off a 53-yard run and running back DeMarcus Robinson dashed for 38. Both of those easily eclipsed the 23 yards KSU amassed on the ground in the first half. The drives resulted in a field goal and a Waters touchdown run, respectively, but Knight brought the Sooners back both times, tossing a four-yard strike to Blake Bell and a nine-yard pass to Durron Neal for touchdowns. However, after Neal's reception, Hunnicutt's extra point was blocked, keeping Kansas State in front, 31-30.

Sandwiched between those touchdown drives was another impressive OU drive that ended in Neal's interception in the end zone by KSU's Morgan Burns.

The Oklahoma defense rose up and forced a three-and-out to get the ball back with 9:32 remaining, and then the Sooner offense marched down the field to the Kansas State 4-yard line. But Samaje Perine was stuffed on three straight runs, setting up Hunnicutt's brutal miss.

Kansas State picked up two first downs to run out the clock on the game, as well as the Sooners' College Football Playoff hopes.