Oklahoma football: Don’t expect K-State to surprise Sooners this season

MANHATTAN, KS - OCTOBER 26: Wide receiver Phillip Brooks #88 of the Kansas State Wildcats gets tackled from behind by safety Justin Broiles #25 of the Oklahoma Sooners, during the second half at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium on October 26, 2019 in Manhattan, Kansas. (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)
MANHATTAN, KS - OCTOBER 26: Wide receiver Phillip Brooks #88 of the Kansas State Wildcats gets tackled from behind by safety Justin Broiles #25 of the Oklahoma Sooners, during the second half at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium on October 26, 2019 in Manhattan, Kansas. (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images) /

Welcome to Week 2 in the 2020 Oklahoma football season. This is where the real work begins.

A full slate of conference matchups are on tap, including the No. 3 Sooners hosting Kansas State, with kickoff slated for 11 a.m. on Saturday.

If it weren’t for a surprising stumble at Kansas State, last year’s Oklahoma football team would have made it through the 12-game regular season undefeated.

The seven-point loss at K-State last season ended a 22-game win streak by the Sooners in true road games.

Oklahoma has won seven straight Big 12 openers and 11 of its last 12. The last time the Sooners lost a Big 12 opener was against then 15th-ranked Kansas State in 2012. And that loss was in Norman.

The Sooners own a 76-20-4 record all-time against Kansas State and have the highest winning percentage by a K-State opponent among current Big 12 teams. No other Big 12 team has a winning record against Kansas State since the conference was formed in 1996. OU is 13-6 versus K-State during the Big 12 era.

The road team in this series has won six of the last nine games, but the home team has been victorious in three of the last four.

Saturday’s game mark the beginning of OU’s quest to win a sixth consecutive Big 12 championship. The Sooners are currently tied with Clemson for the longest active conference title streak among Power Five teams.

The Sooners won their season opener two weeks ago, defeating Missouri State 48-0. That same weekend, Kansas State fell at home to Arkansas State 34-31.

What to watch for from Kansas State

Quarterback Skylar Thompson leads the Kansas State offense. He will be starting his 29th game when K-State takes the field on Saturday and is just one of four quarterbacks in K-State history that has thrown for 4,000 career yards and rushed for at least 1,000 yards. A year ago in the Wildcats’ 48-41 win over the Sooners, Thompson threw for 213 yards and carried the ball for 39 rushing yards, including four rushing touchdowns.

Historically, Kansas State likes to run the ball, control the clock and shorten the game. The Cats also try to minimize mistakes and generally don’t beat themselves. In the season opening loss to Arkansas State, however, the Wildcats committed an uncharacteristic eight penalties for 85 yards.

The running back tandem of Harry Trotter and Deuce Vaughn combined for 97 rushing yards against Arkansas State, including two touchdowns.

K-State’s main receiving threats are wide receivers Chabastin Taylor and Malik Knowles and senior tight end Briley Moore. Taylor caught four of Thompson’s 17 completions for 98 yards in the season opener and Moore caught six for 54 yards and a touchdown.

Among the personnel losses suffered from last season’s 8-5 Kansas State team is the entire starting offensive line.

The Wildcats are led defensively by defensive end Wyatt Hubert, an All-Big 12 First-Team selection a year ago. Defense has been one of K-State’s strong suits in years past, but the defense gave up 489 yards of offense to Arkansas State, with 330 of that total coming through the air.

Kick-return specialist Joshua Youngblood is a major weapon for the Wildcats. He returned three kickoff for touchdowns last season and is a scoring threat every time he touches the ball.

Placekicker Blake Lynch has a career 85-percent success rate in field goals, but was just one out of three against Arkansas State.

What to watch for from Oklahoma on Saturday

Spencer Rattler will make his second career start at quarterback and his first against a Big 12 opponent. The redshirt freshman completed 14 of 17 passes for 290 yards and four touchdowns in just two quarters of action in the season-opening win over Missouri State. His 303.3 passing efficiency rating set a Big 12 and OU freshman record. Everyone is anxious to see how the former No. 1 quarterback recruit will perform against stronger competition.

The Sooners hope to have junior running back T.J. Pledger back after missing the opening game because of COVID-19 protocols. True freshman Seth McGowan was OU’s leading rusher against Missouri State, averaging 6.8 yards on nine carries.

Twelve different Sooners caught passes in the Missouri State game. Charleston Rambo, Theo Howard and true freshman Marvin Mims are the ones to keep an eye on in Saturday’s Big 12 opener.

The Sooners also hope to have No. 1 placekicker Gabe Brkic back on Saturday, but in his absence, redshirt senior Stephen Johnson filled in quite admirably, going two-for-two on field-goal attempts and converting all seven of his extra-point tries.

The OU defense, in its second season under defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, pitched a shutout against Missouri State, allowing just 135 total yards and 54 yards on the ground. The Sooners recorded four sacks in the game and safety Delarrin Turner-Yell picked off a pass and returned it 42 yards. A stellar start for a much-maligned defensive unit.

Bottom line

Oklahoma has lost just 10 times in 130 games at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium since the beginning of the 1999 season. Two of those losses were against Kansas State (2012, 2014). The Sooners are a far more talented team than Kansas State, and will have a chip on their shoulder and added incentive in this game because of what happened in Manhattan, Kansas, last season.

This game will be over by the third quarter, and something extra to keep an eye on entering the fourth quarter: Oklahoma has won 53 consecutive games when leading after three quarters.

Oklahoma 45, Kansas State 20