Oklahoma kicker Michael Hunnicutt’s missed 19-yard field goal attempt with 3:53 remaining against Kansas State is one the senior will probably never forget. He hooked the try wide left, and the No. 14 Wildcats escaped with a dramatic 31-30 win over the No. 11 Sooners to improve to 3-0 in Big 12 play.
Wildcats quarterback Jake Waters threw for 225 yards with two touchdowns and ran for 51 yards with a score. Here are three quick thoughts on the game:
1. Tyler Lockett and Sterling Shepard were unstoppable
Saturday provided an opportunity to see two of the Big 12’s -- and the nation’s -- best receivers square off in a critical conference game. Lockett burned Oklahoma to the tune of 12 catches for 278 yards with three touchdowns in last November’s showdown, and he picked up six catches for 86 yards with a score in this one.
Shepard did more than his part for Oklahoma, corralling a career-high 15 catches for 197 yards, including a 47-yard score in the second quarter and a leaping grab early in the third. It seems like every ball thrown Lockett's and Shepard’s way has a chance to be caught, and it was a lot of fun watching the two receivers match each other play for play.
2. Michael Hunnicutt lost his touch at the worst possible time
Hunnicutt has been one of the most consistent kickers in the Big 12 throughout his entire career. In fact, the next field goal he makes will give him the record for most made field goals in conference history. But his two misses (and a blocked extra point) resonated loudly in the Sooners’ 31-30 loss.
Obviously, this defeat isn’t all on Hunnicutt. If Oklahoma could have punched it in from the one-yard line on the play before Hunnicutt’s attempted 19-yarder, the Sooners would’ve had the lead anyway. Still, those misses loomed large, and now Oklahoma has two losses in league play in mid-October.
3. This result resets the Big 12 pecking order
Coming off its Sugar Bowl win over Alabama last January, Oklahoma was expected to contend for a Big 12 championship and a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff. As of Saturday, however, the Sooners not only are a long shot to win their conference, but their playoff hopes are all but extinguished.
Meanwhile, Kansas State is on the rise. Its defense -- which had a second-quarter pick-six, another momentum-shifting interception and the blocked extra point -- seems to make big plays when the team needs it most. Waters is quietly having one of the better seasons in the Big 12. With any of the league's top teams able to beat any of the others on a given day, breathing room is big. Coach Bill Snyder’s wizardry knows no bounds.