Oklahoma, to avoid going into the bye week under .500, needs to take down Kansas. The problem? This isn’t your older brother’s Kansas anymore.
Let’s get into it. I want to make something very, very clear. Kansas is a good football team. They don’t stink. They aren’t a pushover. This is a tough game to win. Oklahoma will need to play well. If they play poorly, they will lose. No doubt in my mind. The Oklahoma Sooners and the OU fan base need to know that Kansas will punch you in the mouth.
Kansas is coming in without their Heisman trophy candidate at QB — Jalon Daniels. No, I am so serious about that I am not even going to put it in quotes. However, Bean, their back-up, is explosive in the run game (all Oklahoma fans gulped at the same time) and is a streaky, streaky passer. I mean that as a compliment. Go watch him in the second half against TCU. If he is rolling, he’s tough for a defense. Oklahoma has allowed a lot of QBs to get rolling this year.
However, the good news for Oklahoma is that the Kansas passing defense is struggling now. They allowed Max Duggan to slice and dice them last week, maybe this is the chance for Gabriel to get it going and put up a big box score that the Sooners haven’t seen yet in conference play. Oklahoma really needs to win here if they want to go bowling, because I don’t know how much easier it will get from here to the end of the year.
Storylines to watch
- Kansas’ offensive bread and butter is the zone read. They run it on 1st down, at the goal line, on 3rd down, in a house, on a boat, with a mouse, carrying a tote. You get the point and I am no Dr. Seuss. Oklahoma, if they want to do one thing to help them win this game, has to slow down the zone read and make Kansas do anything else. Kansas uses it as their fall back and their identity, if the Sooners can get them second guessing this, maybe they can pull off the much-needed win.
- Oklahoma the past few weeks has lived in 3rd and 4 or more. Oklahoma needs to run the ball well on first and second down and make an attempt to get themselves in positive situations, and they need to get there. If Oklahoma punts quick, their struggling defense has less of a chance to survive. Sooners defense need Oklahoma’s offense to be the reason they win. They need Gabriel to be the reason to win.
- Coaching is going to play a role here. Lance Leipold is a good coach. Hell, he might be a great coach. He is absolutely the hot hand at the black jack table. He is firing on all cylinders right now and has done an incredible job scheming on both sides of the ball. Kansas will come with their first punch ready to go. How does this Oklahoma coaching staff respond? And can they throw their own punch?
- Dillon Gabriel needs to be close to perfect. No overthrows. No missed layups. I do think that Oklahoma might struggle to run the ball. Gabriel might have to make a few big plays in this one. Mims and Farooq should have opportunities not only down field but in the short passing game in as well. Gabriel has. to. make. that. happen. If not, we could see a lot of punts.
Know your opponent: Kansas Jayhawks
- Jason Bean is dangerous. If he gets rolling Oklahoma could have a really really long day in front of them. Sooners need to slow him down early because Bean does live off of momentum. If he struggles early? Ya know. That could be awesome for the Sooners. Step up early and maybe that rides for the rest of the game. Defense needs to start fast in limiting Bean.
- Kansas is the No. 1 rushing defense in the Big 12. They play gap defense so sound and they will make it hard on you to get anything going. I admit I don’t think that Kansas has really anyone who will be playing in the NFL on the defensive front seven. However, those guys are awesome college football players. The Oklahoma offensive line will need to build on a good performance against TCU and Kansas State.
- Get ready for Devin Neal to see a ton of work. Kansas lives but utilizing their best players in the best way possible. Devin Neal, Kansas win or lose, will have success tomorrow. Thats not a shot at OU. Neal is just that good and undervalued nationally. Devin Neal can do a little of everything and that will show. Frankly, I am excited to watch him go at it. He is exciting to watch.
- Lance Leipold is the best coach in the Big 12 at adjusting at halftime. Well, its him or Gundy and I don’t know how to tell you which it is but I think that Oklahoma’s coaching staff is going to be really really tested in the 3rd quarter of this one especially on defense. Sooner’s need to be ready to work in a wrinkle or two heading into this one coming out of the break. Don’t let a few cheap points sneak onto the board while you are starring at your play sheet trying to figure out what is happening.
I think that Oklahoma likely loses here. I this a bad matchup at a bad time. Kansas’ defense is good enough to have success and Oklahoma’s defense has a kryptonite — a run game. And what’s worse is that a QB run game is even worse for Oklahoma. Kansas’ offensive backbone is a QB run game. So, recipe for another OU struggle.
Oklahoma – 24
Kansas – 33