By Wendell Barnhouse | firstname.lastname@example.org
MANHATTAN, Kans. -
This was dial-up versus high speed, horse and buggy versus Lamborghini, a Sopwith Camel versus the space shuttle. Lopsided analogies, true. But it was a toss-up game through the first half.
No. 9 Oklahoma bounced back from its only loss of the season in impressive fashion. The Sooners scored 44 consecutive points, including a 21-0 third quarter, to roll past No. 8 Kansas State, 58-17, Saturday afternoon. Oklahoma (7-1, 4-1) remains in the middle of the Big 12 Conference race while the Wildcats (7-1, 4-1) started the toughest stretch of their schedule with their first loss.
Based on history, the Sooners' victory was predictable. OU coach Bob Stoops has never lost consecutive Big 12 games and the last time the Sooners lost consecutive games was 2003. That's the longest stretch in the country (since 2007, Boise State, Oregon and TCU haven't lost back-to-back contests).
"That was as much of a team win as we have had in a very long time," said Stoops, whose defense limited the Wildcats to 240 yards in total offense. "I couldn't keep track of the guys who made great and solid plays. It was good to see so many guys contribute and have an overall team win."
Knocking off a top 10 team on its home field by 41 points put the Sooners back on track.
"We had something to prove, we wanted to show we could beat an undefeated team," senior All-American wide receiver Ryan Broyles said. "Last week is a done deal, we didn't give it all we had. We haven't given up on ourselves."
While foreseeing Oklahoma's victory was possible, Kansas State's undefeated start wasn't predictable (the team was picked in the preseason to finish eighth).
K-State is so orthodox that it's unorthodox. Some teams want to run fast break attacks and pile up the most plays. Kansas State is willing to take its time and run the best plays. The steady running game produces its yards mostly on zone-read options; basically, the old-school Wishbone belly option. And Klein lines up in the shotgun, though he's more single-wing tailback than quarterback.
The style of play - productive running, hard-nosed defense - had produced seven victories. Kansas State came into the game leading the Big 12 in total defense and time of possession. The Wildcats won the clock battle 31:14 to 28:46 but it was inconsequential. The Sooners' eight touchdown drives took 2:56, 2:48, 2:40, 1:27, 1:24, 1:18, 0:50 and 0:48.
Despite spotting Oklahoma 14-0 lead, the Wildcats excited the homecoming crowd of 51,004 by scoring 17 straight points to take a 3-point lead early in the second quarter. Klein scored on a career-best 42 run, also scored from the 2 and Anthony Cantele blasted a 54-yard field goal.
"We got off to a great start and then we had the two interceptions," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "They made some plays on offense where we got out of position. That's what they can do to you."
Quarterback Landry Jones' interceptions were the only blemish on a record-setting day. He completed 35-of-47 passes for a school-record 505 yards and five touchdowns. Jones operated with impunity. Kansas State's front four rarely pressured the pocket and the few blitzes the Wildcats tried were unsuccessful.
"The plan was to win the game," Jones said when asked if throwing it nearly 50 times was in the game plan. "We came out and kept throwing punches. The way we came out and played in the second half was huge. No one really touched me until ... I don't think they touched me all night long."
Kansas State had committed just two turnovers in its last six games. It had "two" in the first half. The first was a 54-yard field goal miss from Cantele that could have tied the game at 20-all. The second was John Hubert's fumble as the Wildcats were trying to run out the clock. Oklahoma recovered at the K-State 36 and ended the half with a wind-aided 53-yard field goal from freshman Michael Hunnicutt. The Sooners' 23-17 halftime lead felt shaky.
"It felt like one play could shift the game," Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. "We played a good clean (second) half of football. We came into this game with a sense of desperation and we played like our hair was on fire."
But the Wildcats' first two possessions of the second half produced 27 yards on 10 plays. Oklahoma quickly cashed in on its opportunities with Ryan Broyles (14 receptions, 171 yards) taking a quick out up the sideline for a 29-yard scoring reception and Jaz Reynolds making his second TD catch highlight-worthy with a one-hand snag of an 8-yard skinny post.
"Pretty sweet grab," Reynolds said.
Oklahoma's offensive game plan involved jet sweeps to Roy Finch (73 yards on 9 carries, 69 yards on 7 receptions) and quick passes to the sidelines to wide receivers. That spread the Kansas State defense from sideline to sideline and eventually made the Wildcats vulnerable in the middle of the field.
"I would call this a team loss," Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said. "I am not confident that we came mentally prepared to play."
Oklahoma's offense travels in first-class luxury in a big ol' jet airliner. Kansas State moves the ball like Westward ho pioneers in Conestoga wagons. With Jones flingin' it, the wide receivers catching the flings, once the Sooners got a two-score lead, the Wildcats' game plans on offense and defense were fodder for the paper shredder.