LAWRENCE, Kan. — Oklahoma seemed like a boat adrift at sea with the search party going from rescue to recovery mode midway through the second quarter. It trailed Kansas by 13 points and looked listless and lost on both sides of the ball.
Desperate times called for desperate measures. The decision to take some risks is what turned the tide in No. 18 OU’s 34-19 victory over the Jayhawks Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
The risks came in rapid succession starting midway through the second quarter.
Quarterback Blake Bell rifled a slant pass to wide receiver Jaz Reynolds to finally get the Sooners on the scoreboard. It came on a third-and-13 play where playing for a field goal and not taking the risk of an interception was the more conservative — and less dicey — move.
Five snaps later, OU gambled, calling for a punt block with Kansas backed up at its own 14-yard line. Defensive linemen Matt Dimon came up the middle and got his hand on it, resulting in a safety.
After the ensuing kickoff, wide receiver Lacoltan Bester took a reverse pitch, took about two more strides, and threw a perfectly arced pass to Sterling Shepard for a 49-yard touchdown.
In less than three minutes, OU had erased 22 minutes of horrendous play.
“When things happen like that, turnovers or touchdowns, those are momentum shifts for either side. It depends on who gets them. I was glad those were on our side today,” Bester said.
The fact OU (6-1, 3-1 Big 12) had to have them shows how fragile its situation has become.
For the Sooners’ third straight game and in all of their conference games, they’ve shown a limited ability to put drives together.
Quarterback Blake Bell was 15 for 25 for 131 yards with two touchdown passes and one interception. It was an improvement from last week’s performance against Texas, but the poise he showed in his September starts against Tulsa and Notre Dame remained absent.