Sooners must get back to basics
Five Wide: Storylines for No. 9 Oklahoma's matchup with No. 8 Kansas State
Oklahoma will be looking to get back on track this weekend when the Sooners travel to Kansas State at 2:30 p.m. CT on Saturday. OU's 41-38 upset loss to Texas Tech sent shockwaves through the national rankings and the Big 12 last weekend.
Here are five key storylines to follow during Oklahoma-Kansas State:
The winner of Saturday's game will be the team that executes the best. Kansas State is known for its execution and deliberate offensive attack. The Wildcats are rushing for 213.9 yards per game and find several different ways to do it. Quarterback Collin Klein and running back John Hubert each average at least 15 carries per game. In other words, K-State makes you beat them, they won't beat themselves.
2. Slow starts
OU has gotten off to slow starts in several games this season. Against KSU, it will be particularly critical for the Sooners to get an early lead. The Wildcats' passing attack doesn't scare anyone, so if they're put in a position where they have to rally, it's great for the Sooners.
A quick start also would boost the Sooners' confidence. After struggling to make plays last weekend, OU could use a reminder of the offensive success and defensive dominance that led them to a 6-0 start before the upset loss.
3. Turnover troubles
OU has gone back-to-back games without forcing a turnover, so expect the Sooners to emphasize turnovers this weekend. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables said this week how important one turnover could have been against Texas Tech, so expect OU to get at least one turnover this week.
But Kansas State does a terrific job protecting the ball, surrendering only seven turnovers, tied with Texas Tech for No. 1 in the conference in that category. The Wildcats also are opportunistic, forcing 15 turnovers this season to rank No. 2 in the Big 12 in turnover margin (1.14 per game).
4. Sending a message
The Sooners' rallying crying this week was "Remember '08," because OU earned a BCS title berth in 2008 after suffering a loss to Texas in the Red River Rivalry. That season the Sooners finished with three 20-plus point victories over ranked teams, which undoubtedly helped to catapult them into the BCS title game against Florida. A win over the Wildcats could be a step toward duplicating that feat.
5. Finding a rhythm
Quarterback Landry Jones never seemed to get into a rhythm against the Red Raiders, despite passing for 412 yards and five touchdowns. He was uncharacteristically inaccurate and never got comfortable in the pocket. It could be critical for Jones to regain his rhythm this week, with high-scoring Texas A&M and Baylor just over the horizon.
The Sooners' offense also needs to find a rhythm as a group. There are times when OU appears to be searching for its offensive identity. Are the Sooners a power-running attack? Or an up-tempo, explosive passing attack? Is getting Ryan Broyles the football a top priority? Or are the Sooners better off spreading the ball around through the air and on the ground?
Brandon Chatmon covers University of Oklahoma sports and recruiting for SoonerNation. He can be reached at email@example.com.
MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL HEADLINES
- Clemson, Auburn to face off in 2016, '17
- NCAA settles concussion suit with $70M fund
- OU RB meets with police over alleged assault
- OK State has APR penalty rescinded by NCAA
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
- Nike Women's Oklahoma Sooners #10 Crimson Football Game Jersey