Is there still bad blood between the Jayhawks and Sooners?
The last time the Kansas Jayhawks took the field against the Oklahoma Sooners, they engaged in some bizarre gamesmanship aimed at OU quarterback Baker Mayfield. In addition to roughing up the Heisman Trophy winner during the game, KU’s captains snubbed him during the pregame handshake. An irked Mayfield was caught on camera in the second half offering the Kansas sideline some choice words, which he punctuated with a crotch grab.
That histrionics overshadowed the action on the field as the Sooners cruised to a 41-3 win. The oddsmakers in Las Vegas are expecting a similar outcome this year, installing OU as a 35.5-point favorite.
With head coach David Beaty on his way out the door and a bowl game off the table, the Jayhawks are playing for nothing more than pride on Saturday. The Sooners, meanwhile, have College Football Playoff style points on the brain.
Kansas at Oklahoma
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Spread: OU -35.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Lingering hard feelings?
Cue the Taylor Swift — ‘cause these teams have got bad blood after the way last season’s matchup unraveled.
Given that this looks like a “name-your-score” game for OU, head coach Lincoln Riley can probably pour on the points if he so chooses. The Sooners are playing to impress the College Football Playoff selection committee, so it would also help their cause to hang a big number on the beleaguered Jayhawks.
KU could be in for a long night in the final home game for OU’s seniors.
2. Oklahoma’s run defense
The struggles of OU’s defense versus the pass are well documented. The Sooners are playing the run slightly better, allowing 3.6 yards per carry, the third-best rate in the Big 12.
In a season — if not a decade — with few bright spots, freshman running back Pooka Williams Jr. gives KU fans some reason for hope about the future. Even while running behind a putrid offensive line, Williams is gaining nearly six yards per carry this year.
In a game in which it doesn’t appear as though the visitors can do much to test the Sooners, how OU handles Williams bears watching.
3. Who plays for the Sooners?
All teams are dealing with injuries this late in the season, but the Sooners are fortunate not to have many. Nagging issues for star receiver Marquise Brown and lead running back Trey Sermon sit atop the list, though.
Riley could opt to give Brown and Sermon a night off in preparation for next week’s showdown with West Virginia. In fact, if he’s not too bloodthirsty, Riley might make it a short night for a number of key players.
What can you really say about a game like this? Seeing as Kansas is playing out the string for a lame-duck coach in yet another lost season, the Jayhawks probably won’t put up much of a fight on Saturday night versus Oklahoma. If they somehow pull off a win, it would go down as a monumental upset.
Lincoln Riley would undoubtedly like to see his squad make quick work of KU and take the opportunity to empty his bench. Getting out of this game healthy should be paramount for the home team.
A sharp performance would bode well for the Sooners' upcoming trip to Morgantown next week. Look for OU QB Kyler Murray to spread the ball around to the Sooners’ array of offensive weapons before retiring for the evening early in the second half.
Prediction: Oklahoma 45, Kansas 14
— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.