Vintage Kansas State. That's exactly what Oklahoma got on Saturday night in the Wildcats 24-19 win over the Sooners.
Kansas State makes a living off of not making mistakes, executing their plan, and pouncing when their opponent shoots themselves in the foot. Oklahoma obliged by turning the ball over three times in crucial situations while Kansas State - you guessed it - didn't turn the ball over all night.
The Sooners now head into another bye week trying to pick up the pieces already a game down in the race for the Big 12 title.
The Wildcats left Norman with a five point win - the first home loss to a ranked team in the Bob Stoops era - without scoring an offensive touchdown until a minute was gone in the fourth quarter.
Kansas State's defense took care of the first half scoring when Justin Tuggle stripped Landry Jones of the ball inside the five yard line and Jarrell Childs recovered it in the end zone giving the Wildcats a 7-3 lead.
The Sooners came right back driving 59 yards to the KSU one yard line before they lodged bullet number two squarely in their foot after Blake Bell mishandled a low snap in the famed Belldozer package.
Kansas State recovered, drove 88 yards and settled for a 23 yard field goal. Instead of a possible 10-7 Sooner lead, the Wildcats were up 10-3 and led at the break, 10-6.
Oklahoma's problems continued in the second half when Jones through his only interception of the night late in the third quarter giving Kansas State the ball at OU 38 yard line. Kansas State turned that into seven points and a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
“You can't turn the ball over,” Stoops said. “It's a mindset; it's a discipline. You can't win like that."Highlights of the game from the Kansas State radio network.
Outside of Oklahoma's turnovers, the biggest glaring difference in the game was in the running game. Kansas State ran the ball with success. Oklahoma, by and large, did not.
The Wildcats finished the game with 213 yards on the ground. Little 5'7" John Hubert was a machine taking all the punishment the Sooner defense could dish out. He ran the ball 23 times for 130 yards including a beautiful nine yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter that all but sealed the game for K-State.
[Brief side note] Hubert, part of the K-State's 2009 recruiting class, is a perfect example of the type of guy Snyder finds when turning over every rock he can find while recruiting. Hubert held offers from Idaho State, Louisiana Tech, Montana State and North Texas coming out of high school.
Snyder brings him to Manhattan, he's buried on the depth chart behind Daniel Thomas for two seasons, Bryce Brown then comes to the rescue - except he doesn't - and Hubert steps in last season and rushes for 970 yards. Now one year later, he's tearing up Oklahoma and is a key cog for a KSU team that will now move squarely into the top 10.
The Sooners only rushed the ball 27 times for 90 yards. Dom Whaley and Damien Williams split evenly 18 carries totaling 88 yards. Roy Finch had a nice 11 yard run early in the game but was never heard from again. Outside of that, the OU rushing attack was largely nonexistent for big chunks of the game.
Credit Kansas State's front seven for putting the clamps on the Sooners' running backs, but some of the blame has to fall onto OU's offensive staff. At times, Oklahoma worries so much about going mach 10, they get away from developing any kind of consistency and the running game suffers as a result.
Instead, Oklahoma relied on the right arm of Jones, who at times looked like the Heisman candidate many expected him to be. Other times, however, you were left scratching your head wondering who, where, and why he just made the throw he did.
The Sooners coaching staff will have plenty to work on during their bye week because what Jones put on tape Saturday night is going to be the answer key to how to beat OU going forward.
Collapse the pocket, even a little, and Jones bails while all the timing in OU's routes goes out the window (who knows what happens after that). Let him sit in the pocket and he'll pick you apart like he did on a drive in the third quarter (following the questionable fumble call that was overturned by the officials) when he completed six of seven passes and drove Oklahoma down the field with the snap of a finger.
It's not an easy fix but it might involve slowing things down just a bit and making the running game the focal point. Jones has taken plenty of heat for the Sooners' woes going back to last season, but believe me, it's not all on him. Getting more consistency not only out of Jones, but the offense as a whole is the puzzle the Oklahoma coaching staff must try and solve.
The Wildcats now get a week off to enjoy the win before taking on Kansas on October 6th. The Sooners also have next weekend off which means they have to sit with the sour taste of Saturday night's game in their mouth and extra week before taking on Texas Tech.