After allowing 246 first half yards, OU stifled Kansas to just six yards of total offense over the final 30 minutes of play.
“At the end of the day, they end up with negative yards [rushing] in the second half,” said OU head coach Bob Stoops. “They’ve been averaging 400 and 35 points a game, so I think we handled it pretty well.”
But as good as the defense was in the second half, the entire game wasn’t without offensive struggles.
The Sooners had it seven times in the red zone, and despite scoring on all seven occasions, they managed touchdowns just three times.
Out of four of those trips in which they only got field goals, they were inside the 10 thrice and inside the five twice but couldn’t cash in with six.
“We got field goals, we didn’t score every single time,” Stoops said. “It’s typical we always score 47, so everyone’s like ‘How’d you not get 60? We should have scored every time we’re in the red zone.’ You know, so [I’m] sorry we didn’t score every time, but we’re working on it hard.”
Still, OU pulled away in the second half behind that strong defensive performance.
It was sluggish out of the gates, though, as the Sooners looked all out-of-sorts offensively and with busts defensively.
That’s a big reason why Kansas was able to hang around until halftime.
“I would give their coaches and players credit because they are making progress and doing well,” Stoops said. “I figured they would because they have good coaches who do a good job.”
The Sooners started the game with a three-and-out but forced one of their own and quickly struck first when quarterback Landry Jones hit wide receiver Kenny Stills for a 17-yard touchdown pass.
They added onto their lead when place kicker Mike Hunnicutt drove a 36-yard field goal try into the wind through the uprights, making it 10-0.
The Jayhawks cut the deficit to 10-7 on a busted play after a long injury delay when quarterback Jordan Webb option pitched to James Sims, who scampered 56 yards to pay dirt.
“Early on I didn’t feel we tackled well or were as physical as we needed to be,” Stoops said.
Then, Kansas tied it up late in the first as place kicker Alex Mueller converted a 36-yarder of his own.
However, OU seemingly got its act together after that.
Running back Roy Finch capped off a nine play, 70-yard drive with a nifty 9-yard scoring run to regain the lead at 17-10.
That set the stage for a historical moment.
Not only did Jones find slot receiver Ryan Broyles for the NCAA career receptions record at 317, but he found him on a deep touchdown toss that went 57 yards, giving OU its largest lead of the game at the time at 24-10.
“He deserved it,” Jones said. “He’s a great guy, a great player. He did a good job running by [the defense] and I made a good throw tonight and put it out there for him.”
But KU carved into that again when running back Darrian Miller cashed in a 2-yard touchdown run.
The Sooners had a chance to re-establish a two-touchdown lead, but three straight times inside the two Jones threw incomplete passes.
“[Red zone inefficiency is] something we’ve been trying to work on,” Broyles said. “When we play against better competitors, we definitely need to finish in the red zone.”
Because of that, Hunnicutt had to boot through a chip shot from 19 yards out, and it was 27-17 at intermission.
“It felt really good,” Hunnicutt said. “Obviously like some touchdowns, but if I have to kick field goals, it definitely feels good to do it.”
The only offense the Sooners managed for a large portion of the second half was two more Hunnicutt field goals, from 27 and 20 yards out in the third and fourth quarters, respectively.
But at the 10:22 mark of the fourth quarter, OU finally found the end zone once again when Jones connected with Broyles for the second time on the evening, this time a 43-yard touchdown pass.
It was 40-17 at that point.
The Sooners added one more touchdown when walk-on running back Dominique Whaley had a 10-yard touchdown rush with 3:53 remaining.
The Sooners out-gained the Jayhawks 610-252 in the contest.
Jones finished 29-of-48 with 363 yards and three touchdowns but one interception.
Broyles had yet another remarkable day, finishing with 13 catches for 217 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Whaley rushed for 165 yards and a score.
For Kansas, Webb was 13-for-25 for 108 yards, while D.J. Beshears led Kansas with 36 receiving yards on one catch and Sims finished with 75 yards, including his touchdown.
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