LAWRENCE, Kan. — Oklahoma won by 30 points on Saturday night. A reminder of that was required afterward, because it sure did not feel like it most of the evening for the Sooners and their fans, here and at home.
Poor tackling in the first half and red zone hiccups throughout made a 47-17 OU victory against Kansas seem a lot tighter than that result in front of a dwindling crowd of 42,580 fans at Memorial Stadium.
“At the end of the day, nothing’s going to be perfect,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said.
Dominique Whaley rushed for 165 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries for the Sooners (6-0, 3-0 Big 12). Ryan Broyles, on a night when he set the NCAA record for career receptions, caught 13 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns.
OU kicker Michael Hunnicutt connected on four field goals, but three of them were from inside 30 yards – a sign of drives bogging down near the goal line.
“We’ve got to clean it up for sure, if we want to be that team at the end of the year,” Sooners quarterback Landry Jones said. “That’s definitely one area we have to clean up.”
The first BCS rankings come out Sunday night. The Sooners are expected to begin third. Saturday’s effort will not bolster claims of anything higher, anything on or near the same line with Alabama and Louisiana State.
A prevailing presumption existed that this would be extremely easy for OU, a name-your-score night. Seeing what Oklahoma State did to the Jayhawks last week – leading 56-7 at the half on the way to a 70-28 bludgeoning – led to the sentiment for the third-ranked Sooners. So did OU’s 55-17 rout of Texas.
Kansas (2-4, 0-3) entered 120th of 120 FBS teams in total defense, but it offered more of a challenge than that stat would have you believe.
“They’d been called bums all week and everyone was expecting a 100-0 game,” OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. “It’s human nature that they fight.”
Venables’ defense did lock in after the half. Kansas had 6 yards and one first down in the second half after gaining 246 yards and scoring 17 points in the first.
It was a one-touchdown game, 24-17, in the final minute of the second quarter.
“I didn’t feel like we were far off from playing well,” Stoops said of the defensive effort. “We settled in. … I’m pleased about it and excited about what happened in the second half.”
KU rushed for 168 first-half yards – 132 more than Texas had a week earlier against Oklahoma. It was more rushing yards than four of OU’s five opponents had in their entire games against the Sooners.
A 56-yard touchdown run on fourth down by James Sims was a big factor in that. OU had significant pressure on Kansas quarterback Jordan Webb when Webb awkwardly pitched the ball to Sims, who ran past cornerback Jamell Fleming and sprinted to the end zone.
Oklahoma’s final possession of the first half, ending with a 19-yard Hunnicutt field goal, summed up the night for the Sooners when it came to goal-to-go situations.
They had second-and-2 at the KU 5-yard line, and it required a 2-yard run for Whaley on fourth down to pick up the first down. Then, set up first-and-goal at the 3, Jones could not connect with targets on three consecutive throws.
Whaley dropped the first one on what would have been a sure touchdown on a flare to the left flat. Jones fired high on a second-down throw to the back of the end zone. On third down, Trey Millard tripped over his own feet and fell down when he was open in the back of the end zone.
“We’ve just got to not kick field goals, you know?” said Jones, who finished the game 29 of 48 for 363 yards, with three touchdowns and an interception.