Oklahoma football: Sooners don’t want to overlook Kansas

NORMAN, OK - OCTOBER 29: Running back Joe Mixon
NORMAN, OK - OCTOBER 29: Running back Joe Mixon /

After two consecutive weekends going up against opponents in the top 11 of the College Football Playoff rankings, Oklahoma football gets what most fans would consider a week off.

The 9-1 Sooners, ranked No. 3 in the latest Playoff rankings, are on the road Saturday at Kansas, the team with the worst record in the Big 12 Conference. The contrast between the Sooners and the Jayhawks in football is stark  and almost polar opposite.

Oklahoma is 7-1 in conference play; Kansas is 0-7. The Sooners have won 22 of their last 23 games against Big 12 opponents; the Jayhawks are 3-42 against conference teams in the last five seasons.

OU leads the Big 12 in scoring offense, rushing offense and passing offense. Meanwhile, Kansas is last or near the bottom in scoring defense, rushing defense and total defense. Not an enviable position to be in for the Jayhawks when they line up against the nation’s most productive offense. led by the front runner for this year’s Heisman Trophy, quarterback Baker Mayfield.

Oh, and by the way, OU has won 13 consecutive true road games and Mayfield has not lost a true road game in his three seasons at Oklahoma. Not surprising, then, that the Sooners are five-touchdown favorites on Saturday, according to Sportsbook Review.

What should be a cakewalk this weekend absolutely must be a walkover win for the Sooners. The last thing Oklahoma wants to do is play down to its opponent and engage in a close encounter with a team that is actually an embarrassment to the Big 12, let alone its own university. The running joke among Jayhawk fans is that the college football season is nothing more than a placeholder for the start of the basketball season.

The Sooners need to play to their ability this weekend and keep their foot on the gas pedal. This applies to the country’s most prolific offense – OU is No. 1 in the nation in as many as a dozen offensive categories – as well as on defense, where the Sooners have been a Jekyll and Hyde outfit this season.

Several weeks back, Kansas managed just 21 total yards of offense against TCU. In back-to-back weeks against Iowa State and TCU, the Jayhawks were outscored by a combined score of 88-0.

Oklahoma is in a no win and plenty to lose situation this weekend against Kansas. The Sooners are expected to win and win big. Anything short of that could actually hurt OU’s overall body of work in the eyes of the College Football Playoff selection committee. The Sooners have things going their way at the moment, and they don’t want to do anything to jeopardize that with just a couple weeks to go before the final Playoff seedings are set.

Oklahoma owns a 74-27-6 record in the all-time series with Kansas and has won its last 12 games against the Jayhawks, including the last six played in Lawrence. The combined score of the last six games the Sooners have played on the road at Kansas is 235-69, or an average margin of victory for OU of 39-12.

Saturday will be Mayfield’s second trip to Lawrence, Kansas. The Sooners won at Kansas 62-7 in 2015 and followed that up with a 56-3 shellacking of the Jayhawks last season. Mayfield passed for a combined 619 yards and eight touchdowns in the two games.

As lopsided as the all-time series is between OU and Kansas, Sooner fans don’t want to be reminded that two of the biggest upsets suffered by Oklahoma in the last half century have come at the hands of Kansas.

Barry Switzer won 12 Big 12 titles and three national championships as head coach at Oklahoma. He also won 14 of the 16 games the Sooners played against Kansas while he was head coach. In the two losses, one at home in Norman and one at Kansas, OU was ranked No. 2 in the country at the time the two schools played and Kansas was unranked.

In 1975, the year of Oklahoma’s fifth national championship. Kansas was the only team to beat the Sooners, who finished 11-1 that season, including a 14-6 Orange Bowl victory over No. 5 Michigan. The Jayhawks knocked off 2nd-ranked Oklahoma 23-3 that season.

The 1975 Kansas team was a pretty good team, but the 1984 Jayhawks were not of the same caliber. After losing at home to Kansas in 1975, Switzer’s Sooners won the next eight games against KU. That string ended in 1984, however, when Kansas handed the Sooners a 28-3 thrashing. OU was 5-0-1 and No. 2 in the country coming into the game, while the Jayhawks were struggling at 2-5.

A win is a win, and they become increasingly important at this time of the year, especially for those teams contending for a conference or national championship. All wins are not valued equally, however, and on Saturday, how Oklahoma wins at Kansas will be weighted more heavily than merely winning the game