Kansas St.-Oklahoma Preview
While Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops is quick to remind his players that's in the past, Wildcats coach Bill Snyder admits history could repeat itself if his team can't figure out a way to stop Landry Jones.
In this Big 12 opener, Jones looks to lead the sixth-ranked Sooners to a sixth straight win in the series when No. 15 Kansas State visits Norman on Saturday night.
After a sluggish 24-7 victory over UTEP in its season opener followed by an easy 69-13 win over Florida A&M on Sept. 8, Oklahoma (2-0) has had an extra week to prepare for its first big test.
"Now we're getting into our Big 12 conference and we'll see how we've progressed through,'' said Jones, who has passed for 474 yards with four touchdowns and an interception. "I think we are heading in the right direction. It was nice to have a week where you can just focus on really yourselves, although you are still focusing on the other team."
The Sooners will be focusing on how to slow down Kansas State's ground game, while the Wildcats' primary concern is keeping Jones in check.
Last October, Jones picked apart Kansas State's secondary, throwing for a school-record 505 yards with five touchdowns as No. 11 Oklahoma thumped the 10th-ranked Wildcats 58-17.
"Coach Stoops emphasized this isn't last year," Sooners left tackle Lane Johnson said. "It's a brand new year."
New season or not, Snyder knows his team will still have its hands full.
"(Our) secondary, with the exception of David Garrett, is virtually the same," Snyder said. "That is good news. The bad news is that they got torched a year ago. Hopefully the experience has worked in their favor."
Snyder knows his team has to put pressure on Jones to be successful, something it was unable to do while failing to get a sack in last season's matchup. Kansas State also had little luck in the teams' previous meeting in 2009, when Jones completed 70.3 percent of his passes for 294 yards and four TDs without being sacked in a 42-30 victory in Norman.
The Sooners have won five straight and eight of nine over the Wildcats, with the lone defeat coming in the 2003 Big 12 championship game.
There's reason to believe Kansas State (3-0) might have better luck getting to Jones this time.
The Wildcats have combined for eight sacks in their last two games, with senior defensive end Adam Davis accounting for three of them, and Oklahoma's pass blocking has been susceptible. Jones has already been sacked four times after being taken down 10 times all of last season.
"We know we've got to play better," Johnson said, "and I think once we start firing on all cylinders and playing to the best of our ability, I think things will definitely show out there."
While Oklahoma needs to see some improvement from its offensive line, its defensive line also needs to step up against a Kansas State team that ranks 18th in the FBS in rushing, averaging 251.7 yards.
"They're predicated on running the ball," Oklahoma defensive end David King said. "If we can get them uncomfortable with running the ball and make them throw the ball, that would be a successful day for us."
The Wildcats did struggle on the ground last week, and it nearly cost them.
One week after crushing Miami 52-13, Kansas State rushed for a season-low 143 yards in a 35-21 win over North Texas. The Wildcats entered the fourth quarter leading by eight before pulling away to survive an unexpected test.
"Across the board, I didn't think we played like we were capable of playing,'' Snyder said.
Kansas State will have to play better to come away with a victory at Memorial Stadium, where Oklahoma has won 42 of 43. The Sooners have also won their 14 home games against ranked opponents by an average of 27.4 points since Stoops took over the program in 1999.