OU Football Point After: Sooners Turn K-State Homecoming into Horror Show

facebooktwitterreddit

It has become somewhat of an automatic in Bob Stoops time at the helm of OU football. The Sooner head coach is now a perfect 6-0 when his team plays at Kansas State after a 55-0 shellacking of his former boss on Saturday.

Kansas State can thank Texas for the severe storm that swept through Manhattan, Kan., on Saturday, leaving nothing but destruction in its wake. Even a late Friday night arrival to the game site by the Sooners could not derail a determined Oklahoma football team that appeared hell bent on reversing its disappointing performance from a week earlier against archrival Texas.

After back-to-back losses suffered by Kansas State – against two of the Big 12’s best in Oklahoma State and TCU – in the closing minutes of its previous two games, there was a good feeling in the atmosphere among K-State fans on a festive homecoming weekend in Manhattan that this would be the year that Bill Snyder and the Cats would snap former K-State assistant Bob Stoops’ five-game winning streak when the Sooners came north to play at his former football home.

Oct 17, 2015; Manhattan, KS, USA; Kansas State Wildcats wide receiver Deante Burton (6) misses a catch against the Oklahoma Sooners at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

And why wouldn’t the mood of the purple-clad K-State fans be upbeat about their team’s chances with the pathetic way the Sooners performed in the Red River rivalry game?

All the elements were there for the trap game that many in the Sooner Nation feared, especially when going against a Bill Snyder-coached team on their home turf and with the added incentive of having a boisterous, homey homecoming crowd behind them.

The home crowd was at a fever pitch as its football heroes proudly made their appearance out of the tunnel and onto the field of play in the newly upgraded stadium named after their longtime head coach.

Little did anyone know, at that particular moment, that would represent the height of the K-State excitement for the afternoon and that everything would roll rapidly downhill from there.

The Sooners received the opening kickoff and proceeded to march down the field, covering 71 yards in five plays to take a 7-0 lead with barely a minute gone in the game. That opening drive also served as an unexpected quick punch in the gut, taking much of the pregame enthusiasm out of the crowd.

Something else unexpected happened in the first Kansas State possession. Despite what the Texas Longhorns had shown the week before in successfully pounding the Sooner defense with the run game, the Wildcats came out throwing the football, which goes against what K-State traditionally feels most comfortable doing. Under pressure, K-State quarterback Joe Hubener completed two short passes, but not enough for the first down, and the Wildcats were forced to punt.

Oct 17, 2015; Manhattan, KS, USA; Oklahoma Sooners running back Daniel Brooks (34) is chased by Kansas State Wildcats defensive back Sean Newlan (29) during the Sooners 55-0 win at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

The Wildcats stayed with the pass game on their second possession, and just missed evening the score when a home-run pass attempt by Hubener was just out of the reach of a streaking Deante Burton, who would have easily taken it in for a K-State touchdown. On third-and-long in the same possession, however, Sooner cornerback Jordan Thomas picked off a pass from Hubener and returned it to the K-State 16-yard line. Two plays later, Baker Mayfield and the OU offense found the Wildcat end zone again, and the impeding rout was on.

This was a much different Oklahoma team than the one that got outplayed and outcoached by a struggling Texas squad the week before. It was pretty obvious from the outset that the Sooner coaches got the players’ attention in the practice sessions and preparation last week for the trip to Kansas State.

It would have been easy for the Sooners to display some overconfidence again on Saturday, given their success in previous trips to Manhattan in the Stoops era, and had OU handled the Longhorns the way most everyone on the planet had expected, the dynamics of the Kansas State game might have played out much differently.

Instead, Oklahoma fans are hard pressed not to wonder what might have been had the Sooners not dug such a huge hole for themselves in the early going against the fired-up underdog Longhorns. It was pretty clear that offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley wanted to see the OU offense strike early against Kansas State, something that the Sooners have had much success with through five previous outings this season.

“I cannot remember being involved in a game like this since 1989 in the first year we were here…I think all of us are embarrassed.” —Bill Snyder, Kansas State head coach

Oklahoma’s opening drive for a touchdown at Kansas State was the first time this season that the Sooners have scored a touchdown on their opening possession (they had a field goal in their first possession against Tulsa). That become a highly relevant stat when playing K-State. Since 1990 under Bill Snyder, the Wildcats are 155-28 in games in which they score first, and the Cats had won 14 of the last 15 games when they got on the scoreboard first (the one loss occurred two weeks ago at Oklahoma State).

The statistical comparisons in the Kansas State game are overwhelmingly in favor of the Sooners. Oklahoma had 232 yards rushing on Saturday against the Wildcats, who came into the game ranked 18th in the country defending the run. A week ago against Texas, the Sooners gained just 67 yards on the ground against a team that ranked 118th in the nation in rush defense.

Because the Cats fell behind early against OU they were forced to abandon their running game – which, in retrospect they should have employed earlier in the game – but the Sooners’ front seven made sure that didn’t happen, holding K-State to just 65 yards on the ground, the Cats fewest rushing yards this season. On top of that, however, the Sooner defense also locked down Kansas State when it tried to pick up yards through the air. The Wildcats had even less success when they threw the ball. The K-State quarterbacks completed a horrific 5 of 22 passes for a measly 45 net yards and had three passes intercepted.

It was the perfect win if you are an Oklahoma Sooner win and helped soothe some of the pain endured from the defeat by Texas.

The two head coaches had contrasting opinions on the game, which both were quick to voice in their postgame press conference comments.

K-State had coach Bill Snyder made no bones about it:

"“I think all of us are embarrassed,” Snyder said. “I cannot remember being involved in a game like this since 1989 in the first year that we were here. I do not even know if we had one that bad during that first go-round…“It will truly define the character of each and every one of us in terms of how we respond.”"

Bob Stoops’ take on the game was obviously much more upbeat:

"“The execution was maybe as good as we have had. We did a better job of having a quicker tempo and not allowing the defense to get such a bead on us,” Stoops said after the game. “Again, the execution was really solid and we took care of the football. Defensively, it was the same thing. It was a really good, solid day.”"

It certainly will be interest to see what happens next weekend when Kansas State must travel to play Texas in Austin, a team the Cats have prevailed over in eight of 11 games in the Bill Snyder era. Perhaps we will learn much more about OU football this season seeing how that game plays out.