Two years ago, pregame fireworks between the captains at the coin toss prompted OU star quarterback Baker Mayfield to taunt the KU sideline with a firestorm-inducing obscene gesture that was caught on camera later in the game. When the Jayhawks visited Norman last season, running back Pooka Williams ran wild for 252 yards in a 40-point outburst by KU. It was the game that destroyed any hope that the Sooners could fix their woebegone defense under the previous coaching staff.
Adding new head coach Les Miles to the mix at KU ups the zaniness quotient in what looks like a mismatch on Saturday in Lawrence. Will any developments during the game set tongues wagging on Sunday?
Oklahoma at Kansas
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 5 at 12 p.m. ET
Spread: Oklahoma -35
When Oklahoma Has the Ball
The Sooners kept on rolling last week in possibly their best offensive performance of the season versus Texas Tech. OU cranked out more than 10 yards per play in the 55-16 win. Despite throwing his first interception of the year, senior QB Jalen Hurts had his best day yet passing the ball with 415 yards and three touchdowns while completing 17 of his 24 attempts.
Why should things be any different against KU? The Jayhawks surrendered 51 points last week to the offensively challenged TCU Horned Frogs, who had 625 yards of total offense in the game.
It's tough to envision a scenario where the Kansas defense mounts much of a fight on Saturday.
When Kansas Has the Ball
KU caught the attention of the college football world three weeks ago when it stomped Boston College in the Eagles' own house, 48-24. That feels like a long time ago after watching the Jayhawks muster 24 and 14 points in losses to West Virginia and TCU, respectively.
To make matters worse, leading rusher Khalil Herbert left the team this week. The Jayhawks will lean even more heavily on Williams and wide receiver Andrew Parchment versus OU as a result.
An even bigger issue for KU will be keeping OU's defensive front out of its backfield. Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch is enabling players like nose tackle Neville Gallimore and defensive end Ronnie Perkins to get upfield and create havoc for offenses.
KU has two things working in its favor on Saturday. First, Les Miles has sprung some upsets in his time. He knows how to dig out opponents' weaknesses on film and find ways for his teams to capitalize on them.
Second, OU has a date with archrival Texas in the Cotton Bowl the following week. It wouldn't surprise anyone if the Sooners' minds are elsewhere on Saturday. Is that enough to keep the Jayhawks in the hunt versus OU?
OU head coach Lincoln Riley would surely prefer to see his stars sitting on the bench in the second half as his team cruises to victory. The look-ahead factor may prevent him from pulling them as early as he would like. Distracted or not, though, OU should still have little trouble with KU.