Kansas State clearly knew what it wanted to do against the Oklahoma defense. Even though it wasn’t their forte, the Wildcats dropped back to pass on their first six plays.
The result for the second-worst passing offense in the Big 12 Conference was one sack, one completion, a near-pick by linebacker PL Lindley and an eventual interception by cornerback Jordan Thomas, the first of three for Oklahoma on a day when the secondary helped spark a defensive statement.
“We had been itching to get back on the field after last week,” Oklahoma cornerback Zack Sanchez said. “Everybody’s fired up and ready to play. We definitely had the edge. . . . People like to talk and act like the season’s over after one bad game. Just for us to get back to know how we can play and should play, it felt really good.”
No. 19 Oklahoma held Kansas State to just 110 yards of total offense – and only 65 yards on the ground. This coming one game after the Sooners allowed Texas to run for 313 yards.
Oklahoma shut out Kansas State for the first time since 1996 and posted its biggest Big 12 Conference shutout since 2003.
The pass rush recorded six sacks and 11 tackles for loss to go along with the three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown by Sanchez.
“It was a different feeling in the locker room,” said Sanchez, who mentioned that he had seen the route all week on his Pick 6. “Guys were ready to get back on the field, especially after a loss. You’re always itching to get back and show that that’s not who you are.”
Oklahoma (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) allowed only 45 passing yards, just seven first downs and 2.1 yards per play.
Riley makes the right changes
Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley said he found something this week in practice. It was a jump forward in the offense’s progression – learning what went well and what didn’t through the first five games.
“I’m not going to talk about it,” Riley said. “Because there’s no eureka moments. You’re never there. . . . We made some major progress this week and it was good see it go from the practice field to the game field.”
Like any great player, it seemed that Riley needed to be in a rhythm. When Oklahoma had early success – not missing a completion through its first seven attempts – and caught some energy, Riley found his form calling plays. He took full advantage of Joe Mixon out of the backfield and utilized short passes to keep the offensive line out of trouble.
“We were executing plays,” Riley said. “We played faster than we had all year. Our guys did a good job handling it. Our guys did a great job all day.”
OU dominates on first down
After struggling to get anything going against Texas and falling behind the chains consistently, the Sooners had no trouble keep the first-down crew working overtime in the first half against Kansas State.
Through the first half, Oklahoma had 20 first down plays. The Sooners average 8.6 yards per play, which bolstered them to a 35-0 halftime lead.
“It was very important,” Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine said. “We knew we had to come out fast and just stay fast. We couldn't let off the gas and we didn't and we saw the outcome of the game.”
Oklahoma averaged 8.7 yards per first down on its first three drives but put the game away with a 9.45-yard average on 11 plays in the second quarter.
“The tempo allows our offense to get set and get going,” Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield said. “It makes the defense have to get lined up and play in a base defense. Like I said in the press conference last week, Texas was able to line up and give us some crazy blitzes and when we go tempo people can’t do that.”
Nothing to miss
After missing five tackles on one touchdown run against Texas a week ago, Oklahoma missed just three tackles all game against Kansas State.
“That was a big part of it,” Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “. . . That’s not the way we tackled a week ago. To watch that was hard for our players to stomach. To bounce back shows how resilient they are. This wasn’t an easy venue to come up and play and take the game to Kansas State. From the opening kick, you could tell our guys were ready to play.”