Keys to the game
After losing his composure some early, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield recovered with strong play after halftime, completing 20 of 30 passes overall for 257 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Trailing 14-3 with 1:39 left in the first half, KU’s offense took over at the Oklahoma 47 with a chance to make it a one-possession game. Instead, the Jayhawks went three-and-out in 49 seconds, and after a punt, the Sooners put together an 84-yard touchdown drive in 40 seconds to kill any hopes of a KU upset.
Against a poor defense, KU averaged fewer than 3 yards per play and had a costly first-half interception that led directly to an Oklahoma touchdown. The Jayhawks also couldn’t create any big plays against a Sooners defense that had been allowing them all season. KU barely averaged 1 yard per rush, and receiver drops — along with protection problems — were among the issues Saturday.
KU’s defense, like many other games this season, deserved better. The Jayhawks had a solid game plan, making Mayfield throw against an eight-man zone most plays — part of a strategy that helped KU force five punts on eight first-half defensive possessions. KU’s red-zone defense still struggled, though, and the Jayhawks didn’t play as well after halftime. All in all, though, an impressive effort against the nation’s best offense.
There was a missed field goal, a kickoff out of bounds and also a muffed punt that Steven Sims quickly recovered to avoid disaster. KU’s special teams didn’t have any horrific mistakes like in previous weeks, but it also wasn’t a positive for KU on Saturday, either.
Credit to defensive coordinator Clint Bowen for scripting an effective scheme against Oklahoma’s offense early. KU coach David Beaty, though, remained too conservative on fourth-and-short calls (39-point underdogs have to take chances), and another no-show by the offense kept the Jayhawks from at least going into the locker room at halftime with a realistic chance.