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Sooners host Kansas in final home game of 2018

November 15, 2018 ▪ By Ray Dozier

Oklahoma’s defense remains the weakest link of the 2018 Sooners’ football program. The offense is the best in the nation, and without this dynamic unit, the Sooners Schooner would have bogged down on the road to the Big 12 and possibly the College Football Playoffs the past two weeks.

It is OU’s offense that has the Sooners still in the sixth position for the playoffs.

“Statistically, this is, historically, one of the greatest offenses in college football history,” said ESPN’s Jesse Palmer on Tuesday.

Oklahoma leads the country in total offense (577.1 ypg) and second in scoring (49.0 ppg). The O is cranking out 8.9 yards per play—.6 more yards than a year ago. Quarterback Kyler Murray leads the nation this year with a passing efficiency rating of 212.9. His predecessor, Baker Mayfield set the NCAA single-season record with a mark of 198.9.

The Sooners defense is anything but a model of efficiency. OU was expected to blow out Oklahoma State last weekend. The Sooners’ defense gave up 501 passing yards in a 48-47 victory over the Cowboys.

After Mike Stoops was fired as defensive coordinator in mid-season, the Sooners’ D performed well against TCU and Kansas State, two non-stellar offenses. The defense allowed an average of 17 points and 260 yards against the Horned Frogs and Wildcats. (I did not include TCU’s 99-yard kickoff return since it didn’t happen against the defense).

Then came two more quality foes—Texas Tech and OSU. Oklahoma’s D yielded an average of 46.5 points and 556.5 yards in those two contests. After allowing an average of 135.5 passing yards against TCU and K-State, the defense gave up an average of 433.5 against the Red Raiders and Cowboys.

OU’s defense has dipped to No. 83 in points (29.8) allowed and 80th in yards (416.0) per outing (No. 115 by yielding 272.4 passing yards per contest).

As bad as OU’s defense has performed this year, Kansas’ defense is not much better. Both teams meet Saturday night at 6:30 on FOX. Sixth-ranked Oklahoma is 9-1 overall and 6-1 in the Big 12 Conference.

The Jayhawks are 3-7 and 1-6. As the Sooners have managed to log a good record with one of the best offenses in the country, KU’s offense is as bad as its defense.

Kansas’ defense is just a notch above Oklahoma’s (no. 79) by giving up 415.9 ypg. The Jayhawks rank 74th in points (22.9) allowed per game.

Linebacker Joe Dineen Jr., a preseason all-conference pick, leads KU with 119 tackles, 10 for losses, including 3 sacks. He’s also recorded two fumble recoveries and an interception. All-Big 12 defensive tackle Daniel Wise has logged 9.5 tackles behind the line and leads the defense with 4 sacks. Safety Hasam Defense (no pun, that’s his surname) leads with three interceptions and has broken up 6 passes.

The Jayhawks’ offense is even more pathetic. They rank 109th in scoring (22.9 ppg) and 115th in total yards (339.0 ypg). KU’s began the season 2-1 against its non-conference slate then dipped to 1-6 against the Big 12 opponents. The Hawks have averaged 17.1 ppg and 314.3 ypg in conference action. Kansas beat TCU, 27-26, for its lone Big 12 victory.

Running back Pooka Williams Jr. is the best player on the offense as he’s rushed for770 yards and 4 TDs. Quarterback Peyton Bender has completed 56.4 percent of his passes for 1,568 yards with 12 TDs and 2 INTs. Wideout Steven Sims Jr. is the team’s top receiver with 42 catches for 473 yards and 4 TDs.

The Jayhawks don’t even rank in the top 50 of national statistics except in three categories—turnover margin (No. 4), red zone defense (No. 31), and kickoff returns (46th). KU has recovered 10 fumbles and picked off 13 passes and has given the ball away 10 times. Kansas’ opponents have reached the red zone 37 times and scored 29 times (78.4%).

KU has averaged 21.4 yards per kickoff return. Williams leads the returnees with 22.7 per return.

Coach David Beaty was fired earlier this month after a lackluster career, becoming the fourth consecutive skipper to fail to rejuvenate the football program in the last decade. Former Oklahoma assistant revived the Jayhawks program, but he was fired for being too rough on his players. Mangino led KU to a 50-48 mark and an Orange Bowl victory in 2007. Kansas has gone 14-82 since.

West Virginia, which has an offense similar to the Sooners, defeated the Hawks by only 16 points (38-22) six weeks ago. The Mountaineers have averaged 41.5 ppg against their other opponents. WVU’s offense is nowhere as good as Oklahoma’s, but we’ll find out about that in one more week.

The Sooners cannot afford to look past Kansas to the Mountaineers next Friday. No, the Jayhawks will not beat OU, but it could keep it close especially if the Sooners’ defense cannot make some crucial stops.

KU’s only hope to slow Oklahoma’s offense is to create some more turnovers. But, OU’s offense has been terrific in not giving up the pigskin—5 INTs and 3 fumbles.

The Hawks’ D has given up 8.4 yards per pass attempt this year; 12.9 per completion. Those numbers have inflated to 11.4 and 13.2 during the last four games. The Sooners average 11.8 yards per attempt and 16.9 per catch.

The Jayhawks haven’t put up double-digit points on Oklahoma in the past four meetings, and five of the last six. They will this year.

Sooners 63, Jayhawks 20.

Fast Facts

  • OU leads the series, 75-27-6, including 13 straight wins.
  • OU leads, 38-12-2 in Norman, including 6 straight victories.
  • OU is favored by 36.
  • Lincoln Riley is 21-3 (.875) overall; 1-0 vs. KUU; 11-1 at home; 14-2 vs. conference opponents; 17-1 vs. unranked foes.
  • David Beaty is 6-40 (.130) overall; 0-3 vs. OU; 2-32 vs. conference foes; 0-10 vs. ranked opponents.
  • OU is 9-5-1 in games played on November 17.
  • KU is 8-10 in games played on November 17.
  • OU and KU have met twice on November 17; OU won both times.

Articles by Ray Dozier