Oklahoma vs Kansas : The Sooners look to bounce back against Kansas after surviving Bedlam last weekend. After two weeks of extremely stressful, heart-pounding football, here’s to hoping that the Oklahoma Sooners notch a boring win on Saturday against the Kansas Jayhawks.
If they get up big and are able to throw in Austin Kendall late in the third quarter, I think most OU fans will be pretty happy. I also should be able to watch the Oklahoma defense and not be tempted to break things in my house, which will be a nice change of pace.
The list includes OL Jonathan Alvarez, WR Nick Basquine, LB Curtis Bolton, QB Reece Clark, OL Alex Dalton, S Khalil Haughton, WR Same Iheke, FB Carson Meier, OL Quinn Mittermier, WR Chase Nevel, OL Ben Powers, OL Dru Samia, K/P Austin Seibert, RB Marcelias Sutton, WR Myles Tease, and WR Reggie Turner. These players range from key contributors to guys who rarely (if ever) saw the field during their time in Norman. Regardless, all of the seniors should be honored on Saturday night by the fans for all of the blood, sweat, and tears they have put into the program. While the absence of starters like Powers, Samia, Bolton, Haughton (who is still questionable), Meier, and Seibert will be felt the most next year, key reserves like Marcelius Sutton and Jonathan Alvarez should not be forgotten. Both guys played great in spots for the Sooners and both had season-ending injuries.
As for some other draft-eligible players that could be be playing their last game in Norman, the list includes Marquise Brown, Bobby Evans, Cody Ford and others. In terms of probability, Marquise Brown seems by far the most likely to go pro, as he’s currently a first-round projection in a below-average 2019 WR draft class. Of course, Rodney Anderson has already announced that he will enter the draft, and Kyler Murray would shock the world if he did anything other than join the A’s farm system this offseason (in spite of talk of him still being undecided).
Since this is the last home game for some of the seniors mentioned above, hopefully Riley gives them some snaps in the fourth quarter against Kansas. It would be cool to see a guy like WR Nick Basquine score a touchdown as the hometown, walk-on kid. He is the ultimate story of a local boy made good who recovered from two Achilles injuries during his time in Norman.
Even though Kansas has struggled in 2018 just as it has the past couple of seasons, they have actually been very good at creating turnovers. Through 10 games this year, they rank fourth in the FBS with an impressive +13 turnover margin. Kansas has done this by recovering 10 fumbles to go along with 13 interceptions on the season. However, Oklahoma offense has only turned it over eight times, so the Jayhawks might not have their opportunities in this one.
If Kansas is able to force some turnovers, they could at least stay somewhat competitive in the early going. The two early interceptions thrown by Murray against Texas Tech a couple weeks ago kept the Red Raiders in the game, the same thing could happen against Kansas. The main problem for Kansas is that they do not have anywhere close to the offensive firepower of Texas Tech. With absolutely nothing to lose in this one, the Jayhawks will probably play aggressively and try to force as many turnovers as possible. Look out for junior CB Hasan Defense and junior safety Mike Lee for Kansas. Both players have good ball skills and are aggressive in coverage.
Aside from the 2014 game where Samaje Perine ran for an FBS record 427 yards against Kansas, this game usually lacks the same level of intrigue that a lot of other Big 12 games have. Thankfully, Baker Mayfield made the game entertaining with some animated sideline antics last year after the Kansas players refused to shake his hand to start the game. Although Baker Mayfield is now “feeling dangerous” in Cleveland, KU LB Joe Dineen and KU DT Daniel Wise return to Norman as captains for the Jayhawks. Both players are having great season thus far and will be involved in a lot of plays on Saturday.
I don’t think they will make the same mistake and snub Kyler Murray this time around, but I am sure most of the Sooner players remember what happened last year. Baker was not only snubbed at the kickoff, he was hit after the whistle on a couple plays that were not called. I expect the Sooner players to have Kyler’s back if this sort of thing happens again. Guys like Cody Ford and Parnell Motley have shown the willingness to mix it up with the opposing team, sometimes going a bit too far (although I would probably, do something similar if someone spat in my face, as was the case with Ford). It will be interesting to see how they react if things get chippy once again on Saturday. The way the Jayhawks acted last year may also give the Sooners some extra motivation in this game.
After an embarrassing Bedlam performance, I could point to a laundry list of things that the Oklahoma secondary needs to improve on, but confidence should not be overlooked. Their confidence level took a hit in Lubbock and then went into total free fall mode against Oklahoma State last week. Look for Parnell Motley, Tre Brown, Bookie, Tre Norwood, Robert Barnes, and Jordan Parker to try and get some of their swagger back against Kansas. Since things can’t really get much worse in the secondary, they might as well be aggressive and try to make some plays. For the secondary, and for the Oklahoma defense in general, I am hoping that the night is darkest just before the dawn. A couple interceptions and strong coverage in this one will go a long way in getting the Oklahoma secondary in the right mindset for a huge challenge in Morgantown.
I am looking forward to actually being able to relax during an Oklahoma game this weekend. I feeling a Sooner blowout from start to finish in this one, and I think we’ll see Austin Kendall.