Oklahoma football: Sooners get Jaywalked in Kansas ambush

Oct 28, 2023; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Kansas Jayhawks running back Devin Neal (4) runs the ball as Oklahoma Sooners linebacker Danny Stutsman (28) and defensive back Kendel Dolby (15) make the tackle during the first half at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 28, 2023; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Kansas Jayhawks running back Devin Neal (4) runs the ball as Oklahoma Sooners linebacker Danny Stutsman (28) and defensive back Kendel Dolby (15) make the tackle during the first half at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports /

In an ugly game both literally and figuratively, 6th-ranked Oklahoma football  received — more like earned — the ugly outcome in a 38-33 loss to unranked Kansas.

The Sooners fall from the unbeaten ranks as Kansas did what it had to late to finish off a game that OU had every opportunity to win but also did plenty to give the game away.

The game conditions proved difficult for both sides with the temperature in the high 30s and rain for three quarters of the contest. The game was halted with seven minutes to go in the second quarter for a lightning delay that lasted one hour.

It was Kansas’ first win over an Oklahoma team on the gridiron since 1997, snapping an 18-game Sooner win streak. It was also the Jayhawks’ first home win over a top-10 team since 1984.

815. 38. 821. Final. 33

Kansas drove 80 yards in seven plays to score the winning touchdown with 55 seconds remaining and erase a 33-32 OU lead, but the Sooners actually lost the game the way they poorly managed the offensive possession previous to the Jayhawks winning drive.

On the winning touchdown drive by Kansas, Oklahoma had the chance to force a turnover on downs. The Jayhawks were faced with a 4th-and-6 from the OU 46-yard line, but KU quarterback Jason Bean completed a clutch 37-yard pass to a wide-open Lawrence Arnold with under a minute remaining in the game, setting the Jayhawks up with a 1st-and-goal at the OU nine-yard line. From there, Devin Neal ran it in for the touchdown on the very next play.

The Sooners still had 55 seconds and two timeouts to work with, but they needed to go 85 yards after a holding call on OU guard McKade Mettauer on the first play of the possession and needed a touchdown to win the game. Passes to Drake Stoops and Brenen Thompson advanced the ball to the Kansas 27-yard line.

After a short run by Jovantae Barnes and a final Oklahoma timeout, the Sooners were left with three seconds. A Hail Mary attempt in the end zone on the final play of the game was ended up in the hands of a Kansas defender beyond the end line of the end zone.

The game started out ugly for Oklahoma on the Sooners very first possession, On a 3rd-and-2 from the OU 35-yard line, Dillon Gabriel was intercepted by Kansas defensive back Mello Dotson, who returned it 37 yards untouched to the end zone to put Kansas up 7-0.

OU advanced the ball to the Kansas 20-yard line, but Gabriel was sacked on a 4th-and-3 play and the Sooners turned the ball over on downs. The Jayhawks added to their lead, driving 75 yards in 10 plays on the change of possession, and just like that OU was down 14-0, their biggest deficit the entire season.

The Sooners responded with 21 unanswered points in the second quarter to go out in front 21-14, but Kansas added a field goal as the half ended to draw within 21-17.

Kansas scored a touchdown with a failed two-point conversion and a field goal in the third quarter to regain the lead at 26-21, but OU added a touchdown of its own to regain the advantage 27-26. The Sooners went for two, but the try failed and the third quarter ended with Oklahoma holding on to a one-point 27-26 lead.

The Jayhawks marched 65 yards in seven plays for a go-ahead touchdown on the opening possession of the fourth quarter aided by back-to-back unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on Oklahoma plus a targeting call that went against the Sooners the OU goal line on a third-down play that awarded Kansas a new set of downs.

Oklahoma mishandled the ensuing kickoff and Kansas recovered at the OU 20-yard line. At that point in the game, with 12:18 left in the final quarter, the Jayhawks were in position to put the game away, but the Sooner defense stiffened, forcing a 40-yard field goal try, which the Kansas kicker missed.

Twice in the final 10 minutes, Oklahoma intercepted KU’s Bean. The Sooners scored on the short field on the first interception to go ahead 33-32. OU went for two points to extend the lead to three points, but it was unsuccessful.

With two and a half minutes left in the game, Bean threw his second consecutive interception. D-lineman Ethan Downs picked off the pass and returned it 13 yards to the Kansas 38-yard line. At that point the game looked like it might be over, with the Sooners set up at the KU 38-yard line and a 1st-and-10.

All Oklahoma needed to do to put the game away was make a first down. Kansas used all three of its timeouts on this OU possession, but the Sooners managed only four yards in three plays and were faced with a 4th-and-6 and the KU 35. A field-goal attempt from that distance and under the rainy conditions was too risky, and the OU offense stayed on the field to go for it on fourth down. A false start on OU negated the fourth-down try and the Sooners were forced to punt, giving the ball back to Kansas with over two minutes remaining.

The rest is history. Granted, Oklahoma played poorly in all phases of the game on Saturday. The Sooners committed three turnovers in this game; they had only committed five turnovers in the first seven games. The tackling was the poorest it’s been all season, and injuries during the game to several key playmakers — namely Danny Stutsman the leader of the defense and Tawee Walker, arguably the best OU player on the field on Saturday — were big contributors to the upset.

Oklahoma outgained Kansas, the 12th best rushing team in the country 269 to 225 with Tawee Walker leading the way with a career best 146 yards and an average of 6.3 yards per carry. Interestingly, Gabriel only threw 19 passes in the game, completing 14 for 171 yards.

Unlike past games, however, only four OU receivers caught as many as three passes and only seven Sooners caught at least one pass. In previous games this season, Oklahoma has had as many as 11 receivers catch passes in a game. The wet conditions may also have had something to do with this.

Candidly, the Sooners beat themselves at Kansas. Despite all this, though, and the questionable calls on the field and on the sidelines, Oklahoma had a golden opportunity to finish off the game and sneak out of Lawrence with a win.

The most egregious mistake OU made in a game that was filled with them, was the ultra-conservative offensive play calls by offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby on the plus side of the field that resulted in a three and-out and gave the ball back to Kansas needing just a field goal to win the game.

The Sooners fall to 7-1 on the season and into a four-way tie for first place in the Big 12 at 4-1. OU has another stiff challenge next weekend when they travel to Oklahoma State for what could be the 118th and final game in the Bedlam series.