NORMAN, Okla. – It wasn’t perfect, but the strides are being made for Oklahoma. Both sides of the ball are starting to show why the Sooners were ranked in the top five entering the season.
For the third game in a row, the offense was humming just a bit more. The defense was making just a few more stops. Add it all up, and it’s another victory for the Sooners in a 38-17 win against visiting Kansas State on Saturday afternoon.
If KSU (3-3, 1-2) does one thing, it reveals character. For the last two seasons that has been a good thing. OU turned a corner last year in the 55-0 win against the Wildcats in Manhattan.
The Sooners didn’t need 55-0 on Saturday, but they needed to show more cohesion and consistent signs of improvement. That was done.
OU (4-2, 3-0) only had 65 plays this time around but gained 510 yards, averaging nearly eight yards per snap. The defense allowed just 335. And despite not earning a turnover, the game was never really in doubt throughout the second half.
Against a swirling wind, quarterback Baker Mayfield was on the money throughout most of the game. He connected on 25 of 31 passes for 346 yards with four touchdowns and one interception on a deflected pass.
For the third straight game it was the Dede Westbrook show. Westbrook finished another major afternoon performance with nine catches for 184 yards and three touchdowns.
“He’s playing good, there’s no doubt,” offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley said. “It’s about consistency. He’s done that, and obviously a ton of credit goes to him for making those plays.”
The game wasn’t without its shaky moments for fans. Running back Samaje Perine left in the first quarter and didn’t return. Head coach Bob Stoops said it was a slightly pulled muscle for the junior, but had it been needed, Perine would have returned.
With Perine banged up, it was up to Joe Mixon to deliver. That he did, bouncing back from a two-turnover performance against Texas to rush for 88 yards to go with a touchdown reception and a 26-yd touchdown pass to Westbrook.
Mixon’s touchdown pass was the first by an OU running back in 40 years, dating back to Joe Washington.
“Joe (Washington) wasn’t tutoring him at all during the week, but I saw that Coach Riley’s play design and as soon as I saw it, I said, ‘Ah, that’s one of those. That’s a score,’” Bob Stoops said.
The Sooners were able to throw a few wrinkles at the Wildcats and then let the defense do the rest. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops is done worrying about who is starting, focusing instead on the little adjustments his group made.
Far from perfect, but far from being terrible.
“Overall, I thought we played pretty well,” Mike Stoops said. “There’s some things we can improve on, but we’re getting better. We’re starting to build a little more consistency in what we’re doing. We have to keep pushing.”
OU has gone virtually under the radar to the national scene. Most people leaving ‘em for dead after the 21-point home loss to Ohio State.
It’s true the college football playoff seems out of the picture, but OU has turned a corner in the last three games. Stoops’ troops are starting to find themselves as the second half of the season gets going next week.