NORMAN, Okla. — It wasn’t supposed to be this easy for Kyler Murray.
Murray’s offense was supposed to take a step back from the standard OU set in 2017, led by Baker Mayfield, Mark Andrews, Dimitri Flowers and a host of other players who are now playing professionally.
But through eight games, the Sooners’ offense has been noticeably better than what Mayfield’s squad did a year ago. And for the most part, it’s been easy.
That was most evident in the third quarter of Saturday’s 51-14 win over Kansas State, with the No. 8 Sooners (7-1, 4-1 Big 12) facing a third and 3. Murray bobbled the high snap and lost track of it over his head before picking it up and racing to the sticks for one of OU’s 32 first downs.
“I don’t like to punt,” Murray said simply.
Thanks in large part to Murray’s playmaking, OU put up all 51 points before its first punt of the game. He finished the day completing 19 of 24 passes for 352 yards and three touchdowns.
He’s not just setting records — it sounds like he might have even broken Bill Snyder’s spirit:
“I’ll have to reinvest some time and find out if the ship has ever been in this condition before,” Snyder said after the loss.” I don’t know that it has been.”
Through eight games, Murray’s offense is averaging nearly one yard per play more than Mayfield’s 2017 unit. This year’s squad is also averaging almost a full touchdown more, despite a significant slowdown vs. Army:
If there was one negative to the Sooners’ offensive day, it came at the end of the first half. After going up 31-7 with 2:15 remaining on a Murray rushing touchdown, safety Jordan Parker recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff.
Four plays later, much to Lincoln Riley’s dismay, OU was forced to send out Austin Seibert for a chip-shot field goal.
“I was just really mad because we emphasized special teams so much this week, we worked really hard on it, and then we get that big turnover,” Riley said, “You want to go bury those guys right now. And that is the perfect time to do it. We didn’t get it done.”
But when that is the flaw in an otherwise spotless offensive performance, what does that say about this team? Does this game represent the peak of OU’s offensive explosiveness?
“If we’re able to score on any drive, I feel like it is honestly,” said receiver CeeDee Lamb, who paced the Sooners with four catches for 160 yards and two scores. “That’s for any team in the country. If you can score anytime willingly, it’s a blessing.”
Oklahoma scored on its first nine drives — including six touchdowns — and averaged a whopping 11.9 yards per play through three quarters.
OU had 16 chunk plays (passes longer than 15 yards and rushes more than 10 yards). Kansas State had just 13 first downs.
The Sooners’ top three running backs — Trey Sermon, Kennedy Brooks and T.J. Pledger — all rushed for at least seven yards per carry. Murray added nine yards per tout, and as a team the offense rushed for over 300 yards for the second straight week.
All of that production against a team that limited Oklahoma State to just 12 points two weeks ago.
“We hit some big ones,” Riley said. “Had a few at the right time, guys made some great plays. I think it started with the physicality though, with us being able to run the ball. I thought our backs ran really hard. We played another very strong game up front. Once you can do that, you put teams in tough positions.”
For the third straight year, OU is slated to be the nation’s best offense, per S&P+. In just a week’s time, OU will travel to Lubbock, the site of OU’s previous offensive peak under Riley. The Sooners won a 66-59 shootout vs. Texas Tech in 2016, featuring two future top-10 NFL draft picks in Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes.
This time, the emotions won’t be as high. The Red Raiders lost to Iowa State on Saturday, which effectively takes them out of the Big 12 title hunt. The 2016 matchup also marked Mayfield’s first return trip to his former school.
But it will mark a chance for Oklahoma to keep redefining what it can do on offense. A chance to, yet again, find the peak for college football’s best attack.
This Topic is Missing Your Voice.