Big 12: Norman 0808
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
NORMAN, Okla. -- It wasn't exactly how Barry Switzer would have called the offense.
There were no wishbone elements in Oklahoma's offensive attack. But other elements of the Sooners' offensive onslaught were eerily reminiscent of how "The King" would have done it -- mainly in its sheer domination.
|AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki|
|Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford passed for a school-record 468 yards.|
But unlike some of Switzer's run-heavy efforts back in the day, this one was a bow to modern-day offensive philosophy. Sam Bradford threw for a school-record 468 passing yards and the much-maligned Sooner offensive line paved the way for 206 rushing yards as the Sooners cruised to a convincing victory.
"We always want more," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said of his team's 97-snap offensive binge. "I would have liked to have had three more snaps and just kept moving and gotten to 100. I would have liked to have had a couple of plays back. But I guess that's being a little greedy."
Bradford broke the previous school record of 429 yards set by his quarterback coach Josh Heupel. But he was happier about his team bouncing back from its late struggles last week against Texas than any individual accomplishment.
"Obviously, getting the numbers are nice, but the most important thing is come out here and get a win," Bradford said. "Our offensive line did a great job, we got the running game going and I had all the time in the world back there to pass."
Oklahoma's huge offensive game came after the loss of leading receiver Manny Johnson, who suffered an injury to his left elbow on the game's fifth play and did not return.
Juaquin Iglesias took advantage of his absence by producing a school-record 12 catches for 191 yards. It was the second-biggest receiving performance in school history, topped only by Johnson's 206-yard effort earlier this season against TCU.
"Today, I felt like I was in the zone," said Iglesias, who said he would beat himself up for two drops. "I didn't feel like I had to do something I wasn't. I just tried to make the plays that were there."
The Sooners' offensive line had become a punchline over the last week after producing less than 50 rushing yards in two of its last three games. But Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray combined to rush for 175 yards as the Sooners' massive offensive line was intent on proving a point early in the game.
"There was a lot of weight bearing down on our shoulders about not getting the running game going," Oklahoma guard Duke Robinson said. "We came out on edge. We just wanted to show something."
Nobody emerged more than Murray, who had been struggling with a slump that many attributed to the lasting effects of a dislocated kneecap sustained late last season.
"I just decided not to listen what the media has been saying," said Murray, who had averaged only 2.7 yards per carry in his last three games. "I know people have been talking about my knee. It was just in my mind and I wanted to forget about it."
Murray and Brown both appeared to be running with passion, answering the challenge of Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson. During struggles against TCU and Texas, Wilson had hinted that the Oklahoma backs hadn't been running as hard as he would have liked.
Murray had not had a carry longer than 14 yards since the opening game of the season. But he spurted through a huge hole for a 17-yard gain late in the first quarter to show he was approaching his previous form and later added another spinning 16-yarder shortly before halftime.
"We knew we hadn't been running hard enough," Murray said. "We took it as a challenge and wanted to be more physical. And we answered a little of the challenge today."
He credited some of his performance to running with a new, lighter pair of shoes that made him feel like he was faster.
"I always had confidence, but I had just missed some holes," Murray said. "I just tried to run hard and the offensive line made some good blocks for me. It was there for me."
This fact, if true, should be a scary proposition for the rest of the Big 12. Even after the 10th best offensive performance in terms of total offense in school history, Murray said the Sooners can do more.
And he was right. The Sooners missed two makeable field goals from kicker Jimmy Stevens, including a shanked 30-yarder that ended Oklahoma's streak of 28 scores on 28 red-zone possessions on the opening possession.
"It's not about being greedy," Murray said. "We expect more of ourselves, knowing we had some opportunities and didn't do as well as we could have done. We've still have got a lot of room for improvement."
NORMAN, Okla. -- There was a natural tendency for Kansas players to beat themselves up after being steamrolled by Oklahoma on Saturday.
The Jayhawks will wake up Sunday morning sore from the after effects of the loss but still sitting in first place.
The Jayhawks control their destiny to their first North Division title even after becoming the Sooners' 22nd consecutive home victim in a 45-31 loss to the nation's No. 4 team.
"We've rebounded from losses time after time and 22 teams in a row have lost in Norman," Kansas coach Mark Mangino said. "I think we're in pretty good company, don't you think?"
And maybe even better. The Jayhawks failed in their first test against a South Division power. They have tough games against South Division elite teams Texas and Texas Tech approaching, but both will be played in Lawrence. Their game against Oklahoma was their toughest road game of the season.
"There's disappointment in here for sure," said Kansas running back Jake Sharp, who rushed for 103 yards and scored a touchdown. "Everybody gave everything we could, but we just made too many mistakes. We played a great ball club and made some plays, but just didn't make enough to come out on top."
Mangino's group showed this wouldn't be a typical Kansas team that might have come into Owen Field intimidated. The Jayhawks picked up a first down on its first three plays of the game and eventually rolled up 26 first downs. They produced 491 yards which was the most that Oklahoma had yielded this season.
Mangino knew his team would have to turn the game into a shootout to win. The Jayhawks were able to do that deep into the third quarter as Sharp's running and the passing of Todd Reesing kept the Sooners off-balance.
Kansas was trailing by only seven points midway through the third quarter before the Sooners blew the game open, taking advantage of a tiring Kansas defense that had to play 97 snaps in the game.
"We came in expecting to have to score a lot of points to win," Mangino said. "We had some mistakes and penalties that slowed drives and ended up costing us in the long run."
Kansas' biggest problem was in converting third-down plays. The Jayhawks came in to the game ranking third in the nation in third-down conversions, but misfired on their first 10 third-down plays before finally converting one.
By then, the game was safely in hand. It left the Jayhawks trying to put the best spin on the loss, even sitting in first place.
"A loss is always going to be disappointment, now matter how it happens," Kansas safety Darrell Stuckey said. "We just have to be optimistic and realize that we're going to learn from today. You always learn more from a loss than you do from a win. So we'll go from there."
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
NORMAN, Okla. -- Only about 15 minutes before kickoff, Nic Harris was still going through his paces with the Oklahoma secondary.
Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables shouldn't worry about his grand experiment of spinning Harris down to the middle linebacker position as it worked well enough to confuse the Jayhawks. The Sooners' basic defense with Harris in the middle played well enough to handcuff Kansas in a 45-31 victory.
The idea to move Harris to the middle for injured linebacker Ryan Reynolds came to Venables when he was riding the bus back from Dallas last week after the Sooners' loss to Texas.
Even as the Sooner coaches tried to confuse the media with subterfuge during the week -- he didn't work with the linebackers during pre-game workouts -- his position was set as soon as he started practicing behind the locked gates at the Oklahoma practice field on Monday.
"Between his experience and athleticism, it was our best matchup," Venables said. "They were never able to pick on him. He works in space and his leverage off the ball is a linebacker most of the time anyway. And we felt a guy with his experience could help us mentally as well as physically."
Harris had previously played both other linebacker positions and gradually warmed to the idea as the week progressed. Quinton Carter moved into his position in the secondary in the starting lineup.
"All I know is I'm ready to go home and go to bed," Harris said. "I knew that at the end of the day I was going to do it if I liked it or not. I just tried to make the best of the situation and tried to make some plays when they were out there."
Harris produced five tackles and broke up a pass. But it wasn't as much his statistical offerings as the leadership he provided to a Sooner defense that was being questioned after being torched by Texas last week.
And while the Sooners were gashed for 491 yards, they made enough plays in the second half to turn the game around and stretch their home winning streak to a nation-best 22 games.
After Kansas had pulled within 31-24 on its second third-quarter possession, the Sooners turned the tide. Oklahoma notched sacks on three of the next four drives as the Oklahoma defense seized the game. Venables said his defensive line played as well as in any game this season.
"We were a little inconsistent early on," Harris said. "But at halftime, we came in decided we couldn't play that way. We had to set the tone and play Oklahoma defense. That pretty much what we did up until the last couple of minutes of the game."
Oklahoma finished with five sacks, matching their season high set in the opener against Chattanooga. And they were a consistent force by pressuring Todd Reesing throughout the game.
The Sooners kept the Jayhawks on their heels throughout the game, flummoxing an offense that came into the game third in the nation and best in the Big 12 in third-down conversions.
But not on Saturday. The Jayhawks failed on their first 10 third-down plays and didn't convert a third down until less than two minutes were left in the game.
"We weren't a very good team today on third down like we have been," Reesing said. "They played almost flawless ball and we had some mistakes. And in the end that's what it came down to. They didn't make mistakes."
Venables might choose to argue. The Sooners struggled with some parts of Kansas' offense. They enabled Kansas wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe to set a school record with 12 receptions for 269 yards.
And it led to Venables describing some part of his defense in a manner not exactly suitable for a family Web site.
"We've got to be a lot more consistent," Venables said. "Big plays have killed us the last two weeks. You feel like the mistakes are correctable. But for us as coaches it's not acceptable. We've got a lot of things to get better at."
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
NORMAN, Okla. - Oklahoma's offense has seized control and is cruising with a 45-24 lead with less than five minutes left.
I'm headed down to the field to get some quotes for a few posts after the game.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
NORMAN, Okla. - It might not exactly be the kind of rushing totals that Barry Switzer used to hang on opponents. But Oklahoma fans aren't complaining.
The running of DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown hase upstaged what could become a career passing day for Sam Bradford as the Sooners have charged to a 38-24 lead after three quarters.
It's understandable why it's noticeable that Kansas players are leaning over between plays desperately catching their breaths. The Sooners have ran 76 plays and piled up 595 yards through three quarters as they have dominated offensively.
Murray (15 carries, 84 yards) and Brown (11 carries, 75 yards) have invigorated the Sooners' ground attack after recent struggles against TCU and Texas.
Oklahoma's defense has been gashed for 407 yards, but has provided enough key plays to give the Sooners the lead. Lendy Holmes stopped two drives with first-half interceptions and Kansas has failed on all eight third-down plays so far.
Even with the offensive domination, it seems that Oklahoma is self-destructing just enough to provide Kansas with a chance to stay in the game. One more big defensive play, or another long offensive drive, may be enough to deliver a knockout punch over the plucky Jayhawks.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
NORMAN, Okla. -- Any offensive hangover resulting from last week's loss against Texas appears to have been flushed away.
The Sooners put together their most balanced offensive outing of the season to streak to an early 14-7 lead over Kansas one play into the second quarter.
The biggest reason is the return of a sputtering OU running game that had produced less than 50 rushing yards in two of the Sooners' last three games. The Sooners are already at 69 yards rushing as they've dominated the line of scrimmage.
The Jayhawks have had big trouble covering Oklahoma's downfield passing. Quarterback Sam Bradford has taken advantage by torching Kansas for 189 yards by completing 16 of 22 passes.
But Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing has also been effective, taking advantage of a 40-yard kickoff return by Jocques Crawford to stake a 57-yard drive capped by Crawford's own 2-yard touchdown plunge.
The Sooners lost productive wide receiver Manny Johnson, who appeared to hyperextend his left elbow on the first drive. His return is questionable.
And Kansas nose tackle Caleb Blakesley limped off the field with an injury to his left leg midway through the first quarter.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
NORMAN, Okla. -- Good afternoon from Owen Field, where the talk-show fodder coming into the stadium concerned the demise of the Sooner dynasty.
Oklahoma twice blew double-digit leads last week before falling to Texas. And the remnants of that collapse are still resonating -- and smoldering -- more than seven days later.
Truthfully, the 5-1 Sooners haven't fallen that far. They are still No. 4 nationally -- the highest ranking of any one-loss team -- and are in good position to make a BCS charge if the national run of upsets continues.
All of that makes today's game against No. 16 Kansas critical for coach Bob Stoops and the Sooners. He's never lost the contest following a Texas game in his previous nine seasons and, he is heavily favored to extend his streak to double digits today.
But he'll be facing a significant challenge in Kansas, which has quietly crept into first place of the North Division after two wins to the start the season. The Jayhawks have won 17 of their last 19 games and will control their own destiny in the North race even if they lose today.
Coach Mark Mangino was an assistant head coach earlier in his coaching career with Stoops. It's always a special day when he returns to his old stomping grounds.
But he likely shouldn't expect much mercy from the Sooners because of his past association here -- especially considering what happened last week.
Here are some things I'll be watching as the game progresses:
Who fills in for Ryan Reynolds at middle linebacker for Oklahoma? Reynolds was the most capable linebacker the Sooners had, a heady playmaker who made the rest of his team better because of his acumen. The defense fell apart last week when he was lost. The easiest solution would be the insert Brandon Crow into the position, but he struggled badly last week. Redshirt freshman Austin Box also might get some snaps, but don't be surprised to see the Sooners spin 230-pound nickelback Nic Harris into the position. It might be the Sooners' best move trying to combat Kansas' air-heavy attack keyed by quarterback Todd Reesing.
Can Jake Sharp continue to run effectively? After barely playing in the first four games, Sharp has blossomed with two big efforts to help spark Kansas' quick start in conference play. Mangino still had to be convinced that the 190-pound Sharp can be more than a complimentary player, but his last two weeks were a pretty good indicator.
What gives in the pillow fight between Oklahoma's kick coverage and Kansas' return game? The Sooners have struggled all year, allowing 25.3 yards per return and two touchdowns. Stoops has promised more starters playing on special teams in order to boost speed and tackling ability.
The Sooners, however, likely won't be challenged by Kansas' sputtering kick return game. The Jayhawks are averaging only 12.38 yards per return to rank last nationally. That average, even with preseason All-Big 12 kick returner Marcus Herford in the mix, is nearly three yards below the next-lowest team in the rankings -- Kent State.
Is Kansas really ready for the big boys? The Jayhawks get their first crack against a ranked South Division foe today. Later in the season, the Jayhawks will host Texas Tech and Texas. Kansas avoided all three teams in a school-record 12-1 season last year that was capped by an Orange Bowl victory. We'll see how the Jayhawks match up with a traditional power from the other division in Saturday's game.
Kansas wide receiver Kerry Meier vs. the young Oklahoma cornerbacks. First-year Oklahoma starters Dominique Franks and Brian Jackson have played well to this point of the season, but will face a big test against Meier, a versatile and experienced player who is still listed as Kansas' backup quarterback. Meier runs exquisite routes and will challenge both players even though he's been hobbled recently.
INJURIES: The biggest for Oklahoma is Reynolds, who was already rehabbing earlier in the week. DeMarco Murray hasn't been the same back as last season, although Sooner coaches say he's in good shape. Defensive tackle DeMarcus Granger was back for the game last week, although he hasn't cracked the two-deep yet.
Kansas doesn't release injuries, although it's been clear in the last several games and during warm-ups that Meier has been hobbled. He missed several plays last week, but still produced nine receptions. Nose tackle Caleb Billingsley left the Colorado game with a leg injury and is questionable. Jamal Green and Darius Parish would fill in if he can't go. And starting guard Adrian Mayes missed the second half with an undisclosed injury, but should be ready to go today, Mangino said.
WEATHER: It's an ideal day for football here with nary a cloud in the sky. Temperatures should be in the mid-70s at kickoff and remain in the 70s during the rest of the afternoon.