The Jayhawks appear to be well on their way to fulfilling preseason prophecies of epic futility. At 0-7, they’re staring at a winless season. They’re losing games by an average of 28 points behind an offense that ranks 117th nationally in yards per play and defense allowing nearly seven yards per play (121st overall).
Meanwhile, a frustrating loss to archrival Texas may have sparked a turnaround for the Sooners. They’ve cruised to easy wins over Kansas State and Texas Tech since the Red River upset and appear primed for a stretch run against the best teams in the Big 12.
Oklahoma at Kansas
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: FS1
Spread: Oklahoma -39
Three Things to Watch
1. Dakota Austin at cornerback for OU
Veteran OU cover man Zack Sanchez has a sprained ankle that will sideline him this week and possibly more going forward. Austin filled in well on the spot in Sanchez’s place last week against Texas Tech, but now he faces the potential of teams crafting their game plans to exploit his presence. In particular, Austin’s small frame means opponents might try to match him up against bigger receivers.
2. Stopping Samaje Perine
As a freshman a year ago, Perine plowed through the Kansas defense for an NCAA-record 427 yards in the Sooners’ 44-7 win in Norman. It made for the high point of an otherwise disappointing season for head coach Bob Stoops’ team. Perine and his backfield partner Joe Mixon are having trouble getting things going on the ground this year, which likely gives KU some hope of putting up more resistance this time around.
3. Kansas spreading the ball around
The Jayhawks played their best game of the season two weeks ago against Texas Tech, putting up a fight well into the fourth quarter. Part of the key to their success was quarterback Ryan Willis’ ability to get the ball into the hands of multiple skill players to keep the Red Raiders off-balance. Ten KU players caught passes in the game, five of whom grabbed at least five balls.
If 39-point underdog Kansas makes it out of this game with a win, it would go down as one of the biggest upsets in college football history. Given the unlikelihood of that happening, first-year head coach David Beaty is probably just looking for signs of progress out of the Jayhawks on Saturday.
In practice, that means executing better than they did a week ago against Oklahoma State, a 58-10 blowout loss. If KU can get some stops early and string together a few drives, it can limit the damage and keep an easy OU victory from turning into a massacre.
For OU, getting out of the game healthy is job one. With a loss on their record already, however, the Sooners also need style points to show the playoff selection committee that they should be in the conversation among the best teams in the country. Head coach Bob Stoops will have to balance getting his starters some rest against the need to make an impression with the committee.
Prediction: Oklahoma 45, Kansas 7
— 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.