Lawrence, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - Having recently suffered their first loss
of the season, the 18th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners will try to get back on track
against the visiting Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday afternoon in a Big 12
Oklahoma appeared to be one of the nation's elite teams in the early going
with wins in each of its first five games, including a signature triumph at
Notre Dame on Sept. 28 (35-21). The Sooners most recently dropped to 2-1 in
the Big 12 however, with a 36-20 loss to Texas in the Red River Rivalry last
"I still believe in our football team," Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops said.
"We'll continue to improve as we go through the year. (We) have a long season
still in front of us with six games. I still see a lot of potential here with
our team. We just have to get some things ironed out and play better in some
The 2013 campaign got off to a stellar start for Kansas, which recorded a pair
of non-conference wins over South Dakota (31-14) and Louisiana Tech (13-10),
but since entering league play it has dropped two in a row. The Jayhawks
traveled to Fort Worth last Saturday and fell on the wrong end of a 27-17
decision against TCU.
Oklahoma has dominated the all-time series with Kansas, 70-27-6. The Sooners
are 8-0 versus the Jayhawks under Stoops, including a 52-7 triumph last year.
On the season, Oklahoma's offense has been largely effective, scoring 29.3 ppg
on 423.2 ypg, although it was stifled in the loss to Texas by tallying only
263 yards and going a meager 2-of-13 on third down.
Blake Bell is the team's current starter at quarterback and he has completed
nearly 65 percent of his passes for 968 yards and six touchdowns while rushing
for another 148 yards, but he had his worst game of the season last week in
going just 12-of-26 for 133 yards with his first two interceptions of the
season. Although Stoops certainly wasn't pleased with his QB's performance, he
knows that he wasn't the only one who struggled.
"It isn't all on Blake," Stoops said. "Blake needs to keep making
improvements, but needs, like all quarterbacks do, they need some support
around them too."
Freshman quarterback Trevor Knight (211 passing yards, 169 rushing yards, four
TDs, three INTs) saw action early in the season, but he is completing less
than 45 percent of his passes and hasn't played in either of the last two
Brennan Clay is on his way to a career-best season as a senior, as he has
racked up 476 yards and three touchdowns thus far. Damien Williams is also
heavily utilized with 259 yards and two scores.
Jalen Saunders (25 receptions, 231 yards) and Sterling Shepard (21 receptions,
266 yards) split the duty as Blake's top receiving option, with each hauling
in three touchdown passes.
Defensively, the Sooners have played very well, allowing 16.8 ppg and 308.8
ypg while holding teams to just a 36 percent conversion rate on third down.
Last week's 36 points allowed was a bit misleading, as Texas scored a
touchdown on an interception and another on a punt return.
Frank Shannon is the catalyst with 50 tackles and an interception, while Gabe
Lynn and Julian Wilson have two picks apiece. The Sooners have difficulty
creating a pass-rush, as they have generated just eight sacks through six
In stark contrast to Oklahoma, Kansas has the Big 12's worst offense by a wide
margin, scoring only 18.2 ppg while racking up a paltry 305.0 ypg. The team
has scored 17 points or less in four consecutive games, much to the chagrin of
its head coach
"I'm frustrated," Charlie Weis said. "I get frustrated with everybody. Do I
get frustrated with us not scoring points? You betcha. That's one of many
Jake Heaps has been inconsistent under center, completing less than 53 percent
of his passes for 887 yards with five touchdowns and six interceptions.
"There were moments (against TCU) that we brought back the physicality as an
offense that we haven't had," Heaps said. "That will definitely help us keep
some balance going forward...but I think overall, our offense knows we have to
The unit's top playmaker is tailback James Sims, who has rushed for 390 yards
(4.5 ypc) and a pair of touchdowns. Tony Pierson is a dual threat out of the
backfield with 80 rushing yards and 327 receiving yards, but he is sidelined
indefinitely with a concussion.
Without Pierson, the Jayhawks' best options in the passing game are Brandon
Bourbon (17 receptions, 97 yards) and Jimmay Mundine (10 receptions, 136
yards, three TDs).
All things considered, KU's defense has performed fairly well this season,
especially given that the offense doesn't often help with field position. It
yields 25.6 ppg and less than 400 ypg while holding teams to 36 percent on
Ben Heeney has made plays all over the field from his linebacker position,
logging 43 tackles, 7.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks and two interceptions, although he is
listed as questionable for this contest with a knee injury. Isaiah Johnson has
also been productive with 40 stops and two picks, while Michael Reynolds has
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