Bill Snyder was baffled to explain his team’s winning in Norman the last two seasons by saying “beats the tar out of me.” Saturday No. 19 Oklahoma left no doubt by beating the tar out of Kansas State.
The Sooners (4-2, 3-0) jumped to a 14-0 lead with touchdowns on their first two possessions and was never threatened the rest of the way in posting a 38-17 victory. For the first time in six games, the home team won in this series, snapping one of the more unusual streaks found anywhere in the FBS.
This was an occasion in which the home team finally established a comfort zone in an OU-KSU clash. The Wildcats (3-3, 1-2) came in with the Big 12’s top defense and headed to home to Manhattan after allowing 510 yards and 7.8 yards per play.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield had four touchdown passes while receiver Dede Westbrook continued his assault on the school’s record book. As the remainder of the Big 12 season plays out, it’s becoming obvious that “Mayfield to Westbrook” is going to strike fear in the hearts of opposing fans and defensive coordinators.
“He’s separated himself,” Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley said of Westbrook. “He’s doing a lot for us … When Dede gets one-on-one, he can win the battle down the field. That’s’ been important for us against teams trying to load up and stop our run game.”
In his last two games, Mayfield is 47-of-62 (75.8 percent) for 736 yards and seven touchdowns. Westbrook set school records for most receiving yards (574) and receiving TDs (eight) over a three-game stretch. The junior has touchdown catches covering 67, 40, 71, 42, 47, 26, 8 and 88 yards over the last three games.
It wasn’t a perfect day for Westbrook. He did not start and sat out the first two plays (coach’s decision). Then after catching his first pass, he had to head the sideline as the officials cited him for the tail of his t-shirt sticking out under his jersey.
Apparently disciplinary decisions or the uniform police are the two ways to stop Westbrook.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops described Westbrook’s two-play benching as, “Team policy deal. Minor deal.”
Going back to last season, Oklahoma has won 10 consecutive Big 12 games and the offense is starting to hit the high gear that helped the Sooners win their ninth Big 12 title. During that league winning streak, OU has scored 50 points six times and is averaging 49.9 points.
Against Kansas State, Oklahoma rock and rolled without one of its major weapons. Running back Samaje Perine, who had 214 yards rushing against Texas last week, scored the game’s first touchdown on a 25-yard pass reception. He had 14 yards on three carries before sitting out the last three quarters.
Stoops said Perine had a “slight pulled muscle” and could have played if they really needed him.
After K-State got back in the game with an 89-yard, 17-play drive to make it 14-7 early in the second quarter, OU answered with a 77-yard play in five plays and 1:49. Westbrook was wide open on a halfback pass by Joe Mixon for a 26-yard TD.
“We allowed guys to run absolutely free and catch the football,” Snyder said. “If you don’t play defense, they could score anytime they snap the ball. On that halfback pass, we didn’t have anyone out there covering it.… If you don’t cover people, you’re going to get that.”
Kansas State’s chance to keep pace with the Oklahoma offense ended with an injury to quarterback Jesse Ertz late in the first half. He went to the locker room, returned to the sideline and started the second half but went back to the bench after throwing two incompletions on K-State’s first possession of the second half.
Senior reliever Jon Hubener finished 12 of 23 for 157 yards and missed on a number of throws to open receivers.
On a third-and-nine play early in the fourth quarter, OU’s pass rush failed to corral Hubener who rolled to his right and found Dominique Heath for a 54-yard touchdown pass. Oklahoma’s Jordan Thomas lost coverage on Heath. The touchdown pass came after OU had given up a 26-yard pass on third and 22.
Trailing by two TDs, Kansas State’s next possession never got past its own 46. After punting, OU sealed the deal when Mayfield play faked a running play to his left, moved to his right and found a wide-open Westbrook for an 88-yard touchdown pass with 6:31 remaining.
“The way we play our offense, we try to control the ball,” Hubener said. “We have got to create long drives and put the ball in the end zone. That is something we failed to do today. We failed to consistently maintain drives and put points on the board.”