Kansas State looking for payback vs. No. 19 Oklahoma
A year ago, Oklahoma went into its Big 12 Conference game with Kansas State smarting following a 24-17 upset loss to Texas in the Red River Rivalry. The Sooners took their frustrations out by handing the Wildcats their first home shutout loss since 1991, 55-0.
This year, the 19th-ranked Sooners (3-2, 2-0) come into the contest after a 45-40 victory over the Longhorns. Needless to say, Bill Snyder's Wildcats (3-2, 1-1), who scored a wild 44-38 victory over Texas Tech last week, are looking forward to Saturday afternoon's rematch at Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla.
"We can't wait to go into OU and give them a little payback for last year," said Wildcats offensive tackle Dalton Risner.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, an assistant on Snyder's first seven Kansas State teams from 1989 to 1995, says last year's convincing blowout win doesn't carry much weight this time around.
"Last year has nothing to do with this year," Stoops said during the Big 12 coaches teleconference. "We're both two completely different teams. We've got to continue to get better as a team. We haven't played close to what we think we can play."
That's especially true on defense. The Sooners who rank 109th in points allowed at 36.2 points per game yielding 40 or more points in three consecutive games. A big reason for that has been due to a rash of injuries.
Going into last week's game against Texas, the Sooners were missing five players who had started on defense at some point this season. During the game, four more were forced out, leading to an influx of young -- or at least inexperienced -- players into Oklahoma's defense.
"I don't recall that we had that many injuries at once and so many young guys going in there and playing," Stoops said before praising their performance.
They figure to need another strong one Saturday when Oklahoma hosts Kansas State.
The Wildcats have won their last two trips to Norman -- the only road team to win back-to-back road games against the Sooners since Stoops took over in 1999.
The good news for the Sooners is that some of the injured players are expected back soon. Defensive back Ahmad Thomas is likely to be back after taking a knee to the head last week. Outside linebacker Will Johnson should be able to play against the Wildcats as well after missing the last two weeks.
But there are still plenty of holes to fill.
"It'd be easier to say who's set to go," Stoops said when ticking off his injured players, mostly on the defensive side. "You've just got to keep (going). The guys had a good attitude about it and those young guys, credit to them -- they had their head in the game plan in practice and they were ready to play and for the most part played well."
Safety Steven Parker, a junior, was affected as well. Not only did he have to shift from free safety to strong safety to nickel back during the course of the game but it's his job to make sure everyone else in the secondary is aligned correctly.
"It's tough, trying to get yourself lined up and on top of that, making sure that they're doing their responsibilities, doing everything they're supposed to be doing," Parker said. "You're calling out the defense. It's a lot just on one play, especially covering those young guys. The majority of them know what they're doing. It's really more communication and making sure everybody is all in one and all intact."
Fortunately for the Sooners they have plenty of offensive weapons to cover up for their defensive woes. Oklahoma rolled up a season-high 672 yards in the Texas win. The contest marked the just the fifth time in FBS history that a team produced a 300-yard passer (Baker Mayfield, 390), a 200-yard rusher (Samaje Perine, 214) and a 200-yard receivers (Dede Westbrook, school-record 232 yards).
Oklahoma is 15-2 under Stoops in Big 12 home openers and is 16-1 in the game after playing Texas. That lone loss was to Kansas State, 31-30, two years ago in Norman.