Oklahoma's potent offense back to work against lowly Kansas
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) After piling up a staggering 854 yards of total offense in a 66-59 win over Texas Tech last week, No. 16 Oklahoma's potent offense gets back to work on Saturday against Kansas.
Facing the lowly Jayhawks (1-6, 0-4 Big 12) could be viewed as a classic ''trap game'' for Oklahoma (5-2, 4-0), in which a lackadaisical effort could lead to an upset loss, but coach Bob Stoops warns that this is not the same Kansas team that went 0-12 last year.
''Every game for the most part this year, they've been in, late in the game with an opportunity to win,'' Stoops said, downplaying the possibility his team would overlook the Jayhawks. ''Offensively and defensively, they're really playing well on both sides of the ball - much improved, much different than what their record indicates.''
Kansas is coming off a game last week in which it led Oklahoma State 13-10 late in the second quarter and trailed 24-20 late in the third before eventually falling 44-20. Coach David Beaty knows his team, which ranks 116th out of 128 FBS schools in passing defense, will have a tough time slowing down OU.
''What a great challenge it's going to be,'' Beaty said. ''What a great environment that is. They have terrific fans, it's a really cool place to play. We've got to be a smarter team than we've been. We're going to have to go down there and be prepared and ready to go. Our guys are excited about it.''
Things to watch for on Saturday:
LOADS OF OFFENSE: Even without top running back Samaje Perine, who remains out with an injury, the Sooners piled up the offensive accomplishments last week against Texas Tech. Baker Mayfield completed 27 of 36 passes for a career-high 545 yards and a school-record seven touchdowns, while receiver Dede Westbrook totaled nine receptions for 202 yards and two touchdowns. Joe Mixon, taking over the primary role with Perine out, gained 263 yards and two touchdowns on 31 rushes, while adding four receptions for 114 yards and three more TDs. Mixon's 377 all-purpose yards are the most in the FBS this season and the second-most in OU history.
BEHIND ENEMY LINES: After totaling seven tackles for loss last week against Oklahoma State, Kansas has now compiled 59 on the season, ranking second in the Big 12 and eighth in the nation with 8.4 per game. Defensive end Dorance Armstrong leads the Jayhawks with 10 tackles for loss. Armstrong's sack last week marked the fifth straight game he'd recorded one, giving him seven on the year, a total that is already tied for ninth on KU's single-season best list. His 1.0 sack-per-game average ranks second in the Big 12 and ninth in the country. ''Dorance continues to impress me,'' Beaty said. ''He's having a productive year. We certainly need him to continue to do that.''
WESTBROOK ON FIRE: Westbrook recorded his second 200-yard receiving game of the season last week, and his 10 touchdowns and 776 yards over the last four games are the most ever by a Sooner in any four-game stretch. He has topped 150 yards in each of the four and seven of those 10 TDs have been for 40 or more yards. Overall on the year, his 930 yards rank fifth in the nation and his 10 touchdowns are tied for third.
COZART TAKING CHARGE: After starting Kansas' first four games, quarterback Montell Cozart was replaced by Ryan Willis for two games before taking back the starting job last week against Oklahoma State. Cozart certainly earned himself another shot with his performance, completing 24 of 40 passes for 250 yards and a touchdown, along with two interceptions.
SOONER DEFENSE: As good as the Sooners' offense was last week against Texas Tech, its defense got torched for 854 yards, setting off a social media frenzy among Oklahoma fans about the defensive struggles. Following that performance, the Sooners rank 116th in the nation in total defense, allowing an average of 476 yards, while their points-per-game average of 36.7 is 115th - one spot higher than Kansas (36.9). After Tech's Patrick Mahomes matched the NCAA record by throwing for 734 yards last week, Oklahoma sits 127th - second-to-last - in passing defense, averaging 342.6 yards against. ''Obviously, the defense was not nearly good enough,'' Stoops said.
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