Oklahoma football: What fans need to know about No. 6 OU vs. resurgent Kansas

Oct 15, 2022; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners running back Eric Gray (0) runs with the ball as Kansas Jayhawks safety Marvin Grant (4) attempts the tackle during the first half at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 15, 2022; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners running back Eric Gray (0) runs with the ball as Kansas Jayhawks safety Marvin Grant (4) attempts the tackle during the first half at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

The Oklahoma football caravan heads north to Kansas where the Big 12 leaders will be joined by the FOX “Big Noon Kickoff” and broadcast crew for a big and perhaps final game with the well-rested and upset-minded Jayhawks.

The Sooners and Jayhawks have played 113 football games in their long history, with the Sooners winning nearly 75 percent, or 80 of them. On Saturday, Oklahoma will be seeking its 19th consecutive win over the Jayhawks, but that could be easier said than done.

The present and future of Kansas football changed for the better when Lance Leipold became head coach. In the first two and a half years of Leipold’s leadership in Lawrence, the Jayhawks have won 13 games. That is one more victory than Kansas had the previous seven seasons before Leipold arrived.

Sooner fans will recall that the last time Oklahoma traveled to Kansas, in 2021, it took a fourth-quarter rebound and a couple of other-worldly plays by QB Caleb Williams to pull out a somewhat miraculous 35-23 victory.

Sooners -10.0. No. 6, 7-0, 4-0. 815. 5-2, 2-2. 11 a.m. CT. FOX. Saturday, Oct. 28. 821

The Jayhawks are 5-2 this season with road losses to Texas and Oklahoma State. Kansas is coming off a bye week, but in their last home game they hammered UCF 51-22, a team Oklahoma defeated by just two points on a failed two-point conversion last weekend.

Oklahoma and Kansas have been members of the same conference since 1919, when both played under the banner of the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association. That later evolved into the Big Six, Big Seven, Big Eight and now the Big 12. With the Sooners moving to the SEC after this season, this could very easily be the last meeting between OU and the Jayhawks on the gridiron.

Saturday’s game has been selected by FOX as its premier TV game of the weekend with its “Big Noon Kickoff” pregame broadcast team in attendance. Actual game coverage will be provided by the team of Jason Benetti, Brock Huard and Allison Williams.

What to know about Kansas

This is a very good Kansas team and the best Jayhawk bunch the Sooners have faced since former Oklahoma offensive coordinator Mark Mangino’s 2008 KU team. The big question is who will be at quarterback for the Jayhawks on Saturday. Starter Jalon Daniels has been out several weeks battling a back issue. Lance Leipold has listed Daniels’ availability as “doubtful” for the game, but that could just as easily be a ploy to keep Oklahoma guessing in its preparation.

The Jayhawks are definitely a more dangerous team with Daniels under center. As far as backups go, however, fifth-year senior Jason Bean is one of the best you could ask for. This would be Bean’s third start against the Sooners.

The Kansas running back combination of Devon Neal and Daniel Hinshaw Jr. lead a Jayhawks rushing attack that ranks 12th in the country. Neal rushed for 100 yards against OU in 2021 and had 84 yards on the ground in last season’s matchup. Hinshaw, incidentally, is a sophomore from Moore, Oklahoma.

Kansas ranks 29th in the country in total offense (443 yards per game) and 94th in total defense (396 yards allowed per game). The Jayhawks’ proficiency on third-down tries is a big factor in their ability to sustain drives. They rank 4th among FBS teams with a 53 percent success rate in third downs.

What to know about Oklahoma

If the weather conditions are poor on Saturday, as forecast, the Sooners are going to have to get more out of their running game, which is averaging 168 yards per game and 4.1 yards per carry.

Oklahoma is one of four team in college football that ranks in the top-13 nationally in both scoring offense and scoring defense. The Sooners rank No. 4 in scoring offense (43.1 points per game) and No. 13 in scoring defense (16.1 per game).

Quarterback Dillon Gabriel is having a career year in his fifth season of college ball. The veteran quarterback ranks 4th in the nation in points responsible for per game (20.6), 5th in total offense (337.3 per game), 6th in passing touchdowns (19), 7th in pass efficiency rating (172.4) and ninth in both passing offense (304.4 per game) and pass completion percentage (71.2). The single-season record at OU for pass completion percentage is 70.9 by Baker Mayfield in 2017.

The Oklahoma offensive numbers are actually better than last season, but what has made the biggest difference in the Sooners’ turnaround in 2023 is the defensive performance. The Sooners lead the Big 12 and rank in the top-10 nationally in five defensive categories: tackles for loss, interceptions, third-down conversion percentage defense and defensive touchdowns.

Oklahoma has allowed 113 points this season. That is the lowest over the first seven games of a season since the 2009 OU team.

A win over Kansas on Saturday would give the Sooners their second 8-0 start to a season in the past 18 years.

Key matchups

  • Oklahoma’s defense against the dynamic Kansas rushing attack. The Jayhawks average 212 yards per game. OU is allowing 118 rushing yards per game.
  • Oklahoma’s third-down conversion defense (6th best in the country) versus Kansas’ third-down conversion offense (4th best nationally).

Striking Sooner stat

Under head coach Lance Leipold, Kansas is 13-3 when leading after three quarters, but 0-16 when the Jayhawks trail entering after three quarters.


The weather is likely to have an impact on the outcome of this game. Cold and wet conditions are anticipated with a forecast of 47-degrees at kickoff. The team that adjusts best to weather limitations will likely come away with the victory. Oklahoma is a 10-point favorite in the game, but I think it will be closer than that. The Sooners will need to play a mistake-free game and, conversely, take advantage of Kansas miscues to come away with a win and extend the streak against the Jayhawks to 19 games. That win streak, incidentally, is the longest active streak nationally against one opponent. Oklahoma 31, Kansas 27.