Kansas at No. 6 Oklahoma
When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday in Norman
Records: Oklahoma (9-1, 6-1 Big 12); Kansas (3-7, 1-6 Big 12)
Last meeting: Oklahoma beat Kansas 41-3 in Lawrence in 2017
What’s on the line
For Oklahoma, the Sooners are looking to get to another 10-win season. OU will then shoot for 11 wins and a Big 12 Championship Game berth next weekend in Morgantown, but it has to get past Kansas first. There’s not much to gain in terms of national recognition with a beatdown of Kansas — plenty of damage was done in the Texas Tech and Bedlam shootouts. However, another high-scoring affair vs the hapless Jayhawks could send even more red flags up to the College Football Playoff committee. In an era where style points matter, a blowout wouldn’t hurt.
For Kansas, there’s not much left to play for. Coach David Beaty has already been fired, effective at season’s end. The team is mostly filled with junior college transfers who never had a long future in Lawrence to begin with. A bowl is already out of reach, so KU will just be playing for pride in this one.
When Oklahoma has the ball
Oklahoma’s offense is once again shaping up to be among the best in college football history. The Sooners appear to be unstoppable to everyone outside of West Point, so Kansas could have quite a bit of trouble this weekend. The Jayhawks are last in the Big 12 in pass defense efficiency and are in the bottom half of most other defensive categories. Kyler Murray’s Heisman candidacy could take another leap forward on Saturday. OU has rushed for over 300 yards in three straight games thanks to the emergence of Kennedy Brooks and the consistency of Trey Sermon — look for that streak to continue as well.
Kansas’ defense has little to be proud of this season. The Jayhawks are 97th in defensive S&P+ without yet playing Oklahoma or Texas — arguably the two most talented teams on their schedule. Joe Dineen is the lone bright spot this season as he leads the conference with 119 total tackles, just ahead of OU’s Kenneth Murray. Dineen is also KU’s second-leading pass rusher with three sacks on the season, just behind Daniel Wise’s four. Kansas does have a Big 12-best 13 interceptions this season — most of which came in games vs Rutgers and West Virginia. Still, it’s something for OU to look out for in the film room.
When Kansas has the ball
Oklahoma’s defense was picked apart by Texas Tech and Oklahoma State the past two weeks. The Sooners could get a break this week, and Kansas’ offense more closely resembles the TCU and K-State squads that had trouble moving the ball vs OU. Still, this is a very important tune-up game for the OU defense before it heads to Morgantown to take on Will Grier and the Mountaineers. If OU hasn’t figured out some of its problems by then, it could be a long night.
Kansas’ offense is rough. Among Big 12 teams, the Jayhawks are ninth in scoring offense, ninth in passing offense, ninth in total offense and — wait for it — eighth in rushing offense. There’s not much the Jayhawks can do when they have the ball. Consider this a matchup of the Moveable Object vs the Stoppable Force.
Kansas doesn’t have anything left in the tank, and even on OU’s worst day it should be able to come out with a home win. The headlines Kyler Murray creates in this game will all revolve around his play on the field, rather than any gesture he might make. The only thing to watch for? Can OU’s defense play well enough to gain confidence before matching up with West Virginia.
Score prediction: Oklahoma 51, Kansas 10
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