Big 12 This Week Football

Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson (10) runs to score a touchdown as Oklahoma linebacker Brian Asamoah (24) and safety Pat Fields (10) defend during the Wildcats’ 2019 victory over Oklahoma. If the Sooner offense fails to find itself, the Wildcats could win their third straight game in the series.

I struggled to pick this game.

When it came down to it, I had to admit Oklahoma would probably beat Kansas State, maybe 6 of 10 times. Maybe seven.

Yet the line, Sooners by 10 1/2, is absurd. OU’s had three chances at home to cover a spread against FBS competition and hasn’t even flirted with it, hasn’t even won by more than seven points.

And today, the Sooners are on the road against a program with a history of overachievement and a recent history of beating them, having won the last two meetings.

Not to mention, K-State’s allowing just 75.2 yards per game on the ground and, though the Sooners are gaining 166.2, their yards per carry against Tulane, Nebraska and West Virginia has been a paltry 3.7.

Not good.

If OU can’t run the ball and K-State can comfortably drop seven or eight into coverage, what’s the Sooners ticket?

Can they win 10-7?

Can they finish with the least number of points of the Lincoln Riley era for a third straight week, but still prevail?

The availability of Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson seems to be the prism through which everybody’s looking at this game. Should he play, he would become the rare, rare, rare quarterback to have the opportunity to beat the Sooners in three consecutive seasons.

Yet, if he doesn’t, and OU can’t put up more than 20 points, can the Sooners expect to win a game like that for a third straight week?

All of this, really, is a long way of asking, who are these guys?

Who is this team everybody loved coming into the season, whose defense may be exceeding expectation, but can’t move the ball with any pop, with any explosion, that has scored only one touchdown all season from beyond 20 yards, that has asked its kicker to attempt five field goals from beyond 50 yards, that doesn’t seem to understand if it had any pop, any explosion, it wouldn’t have to make the most of 8 or 9 drives, but would have 10, 11 or 12 from which to make hay.

The Sooners continue to talk a good game.

Lincoln Riley saw the second half against West Virginia as a positive, albeit a half that needed touchdowns rather than field goals.

“If there was any negative in the second half, that was it,” he said. “I thought we played pretty decent football the second half, we’ve just got to finish and make the most of every opportunity.

“It’s kind of like the whole offense. I’ve been asked a bunch and I get it, [but] it’s not one group, it’s not one thing. We need to coach better, every position group needs to be a little bit better.”

It sounds sincere, but perhaps only to a point, because the offensive line appears to be super challenged, has been a dud at run-blocking, and quarterback Spencer Rattler appears to play as though it’s equally bad at pass blocking, running for his life when he must, but also when he mustn’t.

Also, news alert, as a runner, the last Sooner quarterback to run as poorly as Rattler was … Landry Jones?

So, who are they?

They can’t be something they’re not, but can they be a much better version of themselves.

A year ago, Rattler led an offense that averaged 522.5 yards from scrimmage in the four games following the Texas game, in which he was benched early, yet came back to lead the Sooners to a 53-45 quadruple-overtime victory, a game in which he stepped into the moment and passed with flying colors.

OU’s offensive output fell down to 269 yards against Baylor and 392 against Iowa State at the Big 12 title game, but soared to 684 against Florida at the Cotton Bowl.

If this offense can find itself like that offense did, the Sooners are in business. If it can’t, winning every week will not be sustainable and winning today may not be on the table either.

We might have seen a slowdown coming, but we never saw 39 points, total, in consecutive home games, yet here we are.

Who are these guys?

If they’re better than what they’ve been, they’ve got to figure it out now.

Clay Horning

405 366-3526

Follow me @clayhorning

cfhorning@normantranscript.com

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