Kansas State was down 28-7 on the road, but that’s not how it ended.
This is how it ended.
The Sooners fell in the second half, and they fell hard.
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On the other hand, all the Wildcats did was notch the program’s first-ever road win against a team ranked in the Associated Press’ top three.
The Sooners may be a championship program again in the very near future, but the future is certainly not now.
First Takeaway: The Numbers Didn’t Tell The Whole Story
Kansas State was outgained and outgunned by Oklahoma in nearly every respect. OU piled up 25 plays on offense in the first quarter alone. The Sooners racked up 17 first downs in the first half against K-State’s four, but the game seemed always closer than the numbers were indicating.
The Wildcats picked off Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler twice in the first half, one on a tipped pass and the other on an underthrown ball.
Saturday was K-State’s second game with a brand-new offensive line. The Wildcats’ departed front five accounted for 159 career starts, which is relevant if you’re a team without a normal football offseason to build rapport while attempting to outscore Lincoln Riley’s team on his turf.
Ponder these disadvantages and then adding to them minutes before kickoff.
K-State had to be bold. Take chances. Make mistakes. Get messy.
Facing a third down and 18 inside OU’s 40-yard line, K-State quarterback Skylar Thompson connected with Chabastian Taylor on a touchdown that sliced OU’s 14-0 lead in half. Thompson, while battling a leg injury according to the Fox broadcast, brought the Wildcats within seven points on a rushing touchdown early in the fourth quarter. And I’m also sure you know who Deuce Vaughn is by now.
Outgained, outgunned, undermanned. You name it: the Wildcats dealt with it and they didn’t lay down.
Now, the Big 12 pecking order is in doubt.
Second Takeaway: Running Game Is A Work In Progress
Oklahoma entered Saturday eighth among the nine Big 12 teams (124 yards) in rushing yards (Baylor has yet to see the field in 2020), but there’s a good, er, three reasons for that. Presumed starter Kennedy Brooks elected to opt out this season, Rhamondre Stevenson remains suspended and Trey Sermon is now an Ohio State Buckeye.
Freshman Seth McGowan had a rushing touchdown, but also fumbled a ball that led to a K-State touchdown. T.J. Pledger, who did not play in the season opener, got the start but was underwhelming throughout.
It would have been fun to see Rattler pepper K-State’s defense down the field, but the Wildcats stacked personnel in their secondary to prevent home run plays.
With a struggling running game, the Sooners offense ran short pass plays with the hopes that the likes of Marvin Mims, Theo Wease Jr. or Austin Stogner could be elusive enough to turn those shorter plays into big gainers. This plan worked to some extent, but it won’t save them in the long run.
The lack of consistent running game remains one of OU’s visible faults that renders them as a playoff contender and not national champion.
Third Takeaway: Waking Up To Football
Saturday was OU’s first Big Noon (read: eastern) Saturday game of the season and will likely be its first of several this season, which is, sigh, yeah.
For the unfamiliar, Big Noon Saturday is Fox’s premiere Saturday college football showcase. CBS owns the 2:30 p.m. timeslot with the best SEC game of the week while Saturday nights belong to ABC.
The Fox telecast gave us this wonderful graphic of OU’s former prolific quarterbacks Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts.
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The graphic appears to be the correct scale because the Heisman trophy is bigger than Mayfield, Murray and Hurts.
The Sooners have a lot of growing up to do at key offensive positions. Alex Grinch’s defense reverted back to its old and familiar ways of defensive breakdowns.
Lucky for them, they have time on their side.