NORMAN – Bill Snyder said that Kansas State wanted to do to the Sooners this week what Army did earlier in the season – play physical and defend the explosive Sooner offense by keeping them off the field. Instead, the Sooners proved themselves the far more physical team in a mismatch that resulted in a 51-14 OU win that was not as close as the score indicated.
The Sooner defense continued to show marked improvement, albeit against one of the worst offenses in the conference. That said, the defense under the priori administration made pedestrian defenses look spectacular on the regular, so keeping a bad offense bad is improvement regardless. The defense finally made a mark, as Bookie Radley-Hiles knocked the ball loose from a KSU receiver, and knocked himself out of the game, with a massive hit in the second quarter.
The Sooner offense continued its dominance, racking up over 700 yards in a game where the starters exited midway through the second quarter. Kyler Murray was again spectacular, going 19-24 (with at least three intentional throwaways) for 352 yards and three TDs, and nothing remotely near an interception. He also ran for 46 yards on five carries. CeeDee Lamb had four catches for 160 yards and two TDs, while Grant Calcaterra had two for 57 yards and a score. Hollywood Brown, limited by a bum ankle, had only two catches for 22 yards, while Lee Morris caught two passes. Neither of Morris’ catches went for a touchdown, thus imperiling the narrative that Lee Morris only catches touchdowns.
Kennedy Brooks led the Sooners on the ground with 94 yards on only five carries, most of it coming on an 86-yard TD run on the second offensive play of the second half. T.J. Pledger had 13 carries for 93 yards in a mopup role, while Trey Sermon carried the load as the starters, running for 58 yards on on eight carries.
OU took the opening kickoff of the game, and Tre Brown had a nice 27-yard return to set OU up at their own 31. Sermon ran for seven yards then, after an incomplete pass, Murray hit Lamb for nine yards and a first down. A pass interference penalty on the next play moved it to the Kansas State 38. Murray then hit Sermon for nine yards before Sermon ran for four more and a first down at the KSU 25. Bobby Evans was hit with a personal foul that moved the ball back to the 40. Sermon then ran for five yards before Murray hit Calcaterra wide open for 35 yards and a touchdown. The Sooners led 7-0 with 12:56 to play in the first quarter.
The Sooner defense held KSU to a three and out and OU took over on their own 26. Murray hit Morris for six yards, then a double pass that should have gone for a TD was dropped by Charleston Rambo. After a completion to Hollywood Brown for 11 and a first down, Sermon carried for 28 yards and Murray connected with Lamb for 12 and OU had first down at the KSU 17. The drive stalled from there, and a 32-yard field goal from Austin Seibert made it 10-0 with 7:30 to play in the first quarter.
Kansas State would pick up a couple of first downs on the next possession, but was ultimately forced to punt. The Sooners took over on their own 19. Two plays later, Murray hit Lamb wide open behind the defense for an 82-yard score, and it was 17-0 with 1:35 to play in the first quarter.
The Wildcats would score their only competitive touchdown on the ensuing possession on a 14-play, 75-yard drive that made it 17-7 with 10:03 to play in the second quarter. The Sooners would quickly answer, going to second down only once on the ensuing drive. Murray hit Sermon for five yards, then ran for five more and a first down at the 35. Consecutive completions to Hollywood Brown for 11 yards, Rambo for 17, Calcaterra for 22, and Miles Tease for 12 gave the Sooners first and goal at the Kansas State three. Brooks ran in from there to make it 24-7 with 7:29 to play in the second quarter.
After a KSU punt, the Sooners took over on their own 10. Murray carried for 23 yards on first down, then hit Sermon for three yards, Morris for five yards, and Nick Basquine for 24 yards for a first down at the KSU 35. Sermon then caught a pass for 10 yards and Murray hit Carson Meier for 16 for a first down at the Kansas State nine. Two plays later Murray took it in from there and it was 31-7 with 2:15 to play in the first half.
Seibert’s ensuing kickoff was fielded at the goal line and the Sooner special teams forced a fumble that was recovered by Jordan Parker at the KSU 22. They could get no closer than the Wildcat 10, however, and Seibert’s 27-yard field goal with 22 seconds left in the half made it 34-7.
If the game wasn't over then, it was over very shortly into the third quarter. KSU took the opening kickoff and went three and out. Two plays later, Brooks carried for 86 yards and a touchdown to make it 41-7 with 12:29 to play in the third quarter. After another KSU three and out, a 57-yard Murray to Lamb touchdown pass made it 48-7 with 8:20 to play in the third quarter. The Sooner starters exited from there and the rest was garbage time.
OU now stands in a three-way tie for first place in the conference with Texas and West Virginia. The initial CFP rankings come out on Tuesday, and it says here that the Sooners will be in the 6-8 range, well within striking distance of the playoff with a little help. Next Saturday’s game at Texas Tech will be the ABC primetime game, kicking off at 7:00 p.m. from the Llano Estacado. See you in Lubbock.