Clay runs wild in OU victory

OU senior running back Brennan Clay has wanted more carries all season. Saturday he showed why.

MANHATTAN, Kan. – The groans were loud this week when Oklahoma fans learned senior running back Damien Williams was going to be suspended for the second time this season.

But there were whispers, whispers of what would happen if OU senior running back Brennan Clay got the carries he wanted. He wasn't being rotated. No platoon system. He was the guy.

It's what Clay has been hoping for. He's wanted to develop a rhythm all season. He got his wish and showed why all at once. Clay rushed for a career-high 200 yards on a career-high 31 attempts with two touchdowns in OU's 41-31 victory at Kansas State on Saturday afternoon.

He did most of his damage in the first half, setting the tone with 160 yards on 20 carries, including a 64-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.

"He was a workhorse," co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said. "He did a great job of making some explosive plays."

Clay gave a lot of credit to the offensive line, which makes a lot of sense. Coming off a 405-yard rushing performance last week, the Sooners rushed for 301 yards on 52 attempts against the Wildcats.

A lot of that was Clay and some of that was redshirt freshman Trevor Knight. In his first road start, Knight rushed 14 times for 82 yards and a touchdown.

The offense, which has looked incredibly disjointed at times, had a nice rhythm and the zone read option opened up a lot of holes.

"I feel like I'm patient with the ball in my hands," Clay said.

The Sooners have been trying to find the answer for the loss of Trey Millard in the running game. A senior captain, Millard tore his ACL last month. Fullback Aaron Ripkowski has been plugged in the spot and repeatedly put his man to the ground. Clay said Ripkowski's efforts were as big anybody's in his day.

The year at running back has been one of feel this season for OU. Some games it has been Clay. Others it has felt like Williams was the guy. And for a change of pace, senior Roy Finch has come in and made some big plays.

No Williams. No change of pace. The Sooners wanted to get physical and that meant a lot of Clay in helping snap KSU's four-game winning streak.

"Brennan was sensational today," Stoops said. It was Clay's third 100-yard game of the season and the most yards by an OU running back since DeMarco Murray rushed for 208 yards in 2010.

Clay, not known as the back with game-changing speed, now has three runs of more than 60 yards this season and averaged 6.5 yards per carry against the Wildcats.

KSU zeroed in on Clay in the second half, but it was the OU defense that rose to the occasion. The Sooners picked off two passes, including a 74-yard return for touchdown by Zack Sanchez in the fourth quarter. OU also registered three sacks.

The victory puts OU 9-2 overall and 6-2 in the Big 12, and it's also win No. 158 for Bob Stoops to give him the all-time record for wins at OU. Stoops was tied with legendary coach Barry Switzer going into the weekend.

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