Sooners soar to victory over Kansas

NORMAN, Okla. — The Sooners will roll into next weekend's heavyweight battle with Notre Dame on a wave of momentum after hammering the Kansas Jayhawks 52-7 in front of 84,532 Saturday evening at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.

Both a kickoff and punt return for a touchdown in the same game for the first time ever in OU history and a sound game on both sides of the field led to this second rout in a row.

"Obviously, I feel very good about the way our guys played here tonight," said OU head coach Bob Stoops. "It was another really solid game. Now, it's on to Notre Dame."

As for this one, OU struck first when it drove downfield but stalled and had to settle for a 37-yard field goal from place kicker Michael Hunnicutt.

It wouldn't stall on its next drive, though.

Quarterback Landry Jones found veteran wide receiver Kenny Stills for a 44-yard touchdown, the 17th of his career, making him sixth all-time on the OU receivers list, and making the Sooners an early 10-point cushion.

Later in the quarter came the defensive play of the game.

Moments after Justin Brown muffed a punt and set up the Jayhawks at the 10, linebacker Tom Wort hammered Kansas quarterback Dayne Crist, jarring the ball loose and defensive tackle Casey Walker picked it up and rumbled all the way to the Kansas 28, just a block or two shy of taking it to the barn.

"I'm not falling on that," Walker said. "I'm trying to take it to the house. I want my name in the paper, too."

That set up the man who's had his name in the paper plenty, the Belldozer Blake Bell, for his eighth touchdown of the season, a 1-yard run early in the second quarter.

Then, Brown avenged his earlier muffed punt with a 90-yard punt return to the house as he leaped and stretched past the pylon for a 24-0 lead.

"My punt return team, they did a great job blocking basically," Brown said. "That's all I can say. Once I got into the open field, I was just thinking, 'I gotta take it to the house for them.' They've been doing a great job all year, so when I got the opportunity, I just wanted to get into the end zone for them."

Running back Damien Williams got in on the action with a 4-yard touchdown run with 5:12 remaining in the first half, and the rout was really on at 31-0.

Jones then connected on his second touchdown pass of the day, this time a 9-yard touchdown toss to wide receiver Sterling Shepard for a 38-0 halftime advantage.

Roy Finch then returned the opening kickoff in the second half 98 yards to pay dirt, giving OU a 45-0 lead and capping off the first in OU history.

"We've been consistently good all year," Stoops said. "We've been at the top of the league, first or second, for quite a while now. We have been consistent with punt returns and kickoff returns, and because of that, it's been a pretty strong weapon for us."

The Sooners weren't done yet, however.

Jones found fullback Trey Millard for a wide open 26-yard touchdown over the middle, and it was 52-0.

They did it on defense, too, though as strong safety Javon Harris recorded a pair of picks, the latest of which came in the fourth quarter on a deep pass over the middle.

"You have to give that up to everyone else on the defense," Harris said. "The quarterback gets pressure, he throws the ball away, we knew that was going to happen. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time, reading his key. I just did what I was supposed to do. I'm just going to continue to do that.

"I told the guys earlier, "no fly zone" and I'm sticking with that. If it's going in the air, it's going to get taken down, taken out of the way."

In fact, those two picks plus the fumble recovery totaled nine turnovers in the last three games after forcing only one in the first three contests.

OU limited Kansas to 315 yards of total offense--most of them garbage yards late--while accumulating 420 of its own.

Kansas did manage to get on the board in the final minutes when running back James Sims scored from one yard out.

Jones finished 20-of-30 for 300 yards and three touchdowns, while Stills led all OU receivers--eight different ones caught a pass--with six catches for 89 yards and a score.

"We have a lot of playmakers--I've been saying that," Jones said. "We have guys that can make a lot of plays. We're looking to spread the ball around."

Williams had eight carries for 43 yards and a touchdown to pace the Sooner ground attack, while running back Brennan Clay actually had more yards with his 46 on four rushes.

For Kansas, quarterback Michael Cummings completed just 11-of-23 passes for 109 yards with two interceptions.

Sims led both the rushing and receiving categories for the Jayhawks, totaling 99 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries and 57 yards on a pair of catches, respectively.

College Gameday will now come to town as the Sooners (5-1, 3-1 Big 12) host the fifth-ranked Fighting Irish (7-0) next Saturday at 7 p.m.

"It's probably the most anticipated game since 2000 when Nebraska came in here, middle of the year, ranked number one in the country and we were right behind them in number two--that was a pretty incredible day," Stoops said. "We were down 14-0 right off the bat and then came back and got 31 unanswered points. I can remember that it was the first time--the only time--in a long time that the crowd stormed the field afterwards."

That won't happen even if the Sooners win this time, but it will be a big time atmosphere.

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