The Kansas Jayhawks opened up strong against the sixth-ranked Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday, but that early firepower petered out midway through the contest.
Unsurprisingly, the Sooners eventually came to life on offense and beat the Jayhawks in Lawrence 45-20.
Oklahoma has now won 15 straight games in the head-to-head series between the two programs.
KU’s offensive attack consisted mostly of sophomore running back Pooka Williams Jr. throughout the game, and one year after he broke against OU he had another big day. Williams set his new season high in rushing yards with 137.
He pulled off a couple good gains on Kansas’ initial possession of the game, which was capped off by a touchdown pass from senior quarterback Carter Stanley to senior wide receiver Daylon Charlot. Stanley called it one of his best passes of the season.
That’s where the meaningful production ended for the Jayhawks, though, as they wouldn’t score again until the game was out of reach in the fourth quarter. Stanley finished with three touchdown passes, including two late ones to junior wide receiver Stephon Robinson.
“We were pretty balanced in our throwing attack,” coach Les Miles said. “If we had a cleaner start it could have been a different day.”
While Kansas struggled once again on offense, the defense did as well as anyone has against Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts and the OU offense on Saturday. OU’s 45 points were the fewest they’ve scored in a game this season, while Hurts had season lows in numerous categories, including passing yards, completion percentage, passing touchdowns and passer rating. He finished with 228 yards through the air and two scores, but he also threw his second interception of the season.
“Our gameplan up front was to jsut get pressure on him,” senior defensive end Codey Cole said. “Keep him moving, but keep him inside the pocket, don’t let him run around and make a lot of plays.”
That pick was the first takeaway for Kansas since Week 1.
Hurts wasn’t as dominant as he usually is, but his running ability still gave the Jayhawks troubles. He averaged 5.6 yards per carry and scored two touchdowns on the ground.
“[The defensive line] got after Jalen and then he got his legs going and made us pay for it,” Miles said.
Kansas nearly went into halftime down by just one score but a disastrous sequence at the end of the first half set the tone for the rest of the game.
With under a minute left in the second quarter, KU punted from its own two-yard line, which Oklahoma junior wide receiver CeeDee Lamb returned deep into Kansas territory. Adding insult to injury for the Jayhawks, a facemask penalty moved the Sooners even closer. Lamb scored shortly thereafter to put OU up 21-7 going to the break.
“Penalties didn’t help us in any way today,” Miles said. “And that’s not us, that’s not the culture we want to identify as “us” … I didn’t like that at all.”
The Jayhawks committed nine penalties for 82 yards in the loss.
Next week will be a bye for KU, which will get a chance to rest before another game against a conference leader, as the Jayhawks will visit Austin, Texas and the Texas Longhorns for their next game on Oct. 19.
Click below to hear what Miles and the Jayhawks had to say after the 45-20 loss to Oklahoma.
Les Miles postgame press conference