It was only Kansas and the Sooners were supposed to dominate. That's exactly what they did Saturday night on Owen Field in Norman as Oklahoma dismantled the Jayhawks 52-7. OU looked every bit the part of a contender in a game where a contender should flourish and head coach Bob Stoops felt as if the play of the offense is what got things going.
"Obviously, I feel very good about the way our guys played here tonight. I thought offensively we were excellent. Again, Landry (Jones) was throwing the football, route running and making big plays. I thought we ran the ball well; we chose not to run it quite as much because we felt we had opportunities to throw it. But when we did run it, at times again, it was pretty good. They're (Kansas) pretty difficult the way they line up and play to the ball. We were still able to find our spots to do run and when we did, we took care of the football and got big plays. Again, Landry was fantastic. Then defensively, it was another game where the first group doesn't give up any points and they get some yards there at the end and our back-ups give up a touchdown. It was just a great, great game defending them and coming up with turnovers and big plays. We didn't have many punts, but the kick-off covers were great and then we bust a kick-off return and punt return for a touchdown. It was another really solid game. Now it's on to Notre Dame."
The Oklahoma offense has made so much progress over the last month that they are beginning to draw comparisons to the 2000 team. Who would know better than the field general from that squad and current Sooner offensive coordinator, Josh Heupel.
"That team in 2000 struggled early and was fortunate enough to find ways to win ball games. Got better as the year went along. Got hot. Was highly competitive throughout the year in the way they approached practice every day and how they performed on Saturdays. This team, we are getting better every week. We've made strides. I think offensively up front our blocking schemes are getting better, cleaner. We are finding our identifications and our double teams on the edge. You can see that Landry [Jones] is a lot more comfortable and in better rhythm throwing the football here the last three, four weeks. Our guys are where they're supposed to be. If those things happen, you look better."
Of course that's not to slide the defensive performance that kept the Jayhawks off the scoreboard for almost 57 minutes. Coach Stoops had some pretty high praise for them as well.
"There was ‘Big' Casey Walker with a fumble return. They were playing great in every way: run defense, pass defense, getting turnovers, getting pressure, not giving up, not busting and not having any mental errors. Even the touchdown Kansas get against our two's and three's in there, we made them go. We've been very disciplined with how we have been playing."
Stoops is referring to Walker's fumble recovery and return of 45-yards. When asked why he didn't just fall on the ball, Walker responded like you would expect any defensive tackle to.
"I'm not falling on that. I'm trying to take it to the house. I want my name in the paper, too."
Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops was impressed with Walker's fumble return as well.
"I thought it was awesome. I thought it was fun. It was good to see him not fumble it. He ran it pretty well, so that was pretty exciting."
As good as Oklahoma was on offense and defense, the story of the night was the record setting performance by the Sooners' special teams. For the first time in school history OU ran both a punt and a kickoff back for a score. Bob Stoops said that they've been close to doing that all season.
"We've been consistently good all year. We've been at the top of the league, first or second, for quite a while now. We have been consistent with punt returns and kickoff returns, and because of that it's become a pretty strong weapon for us. The upside is that we have been getting good field position out of it."
The Sooners now get ready to host Notre Dame next weekend in the first Top 10 match-up on Owen Field since 2008 when they hosted #2 Texas Tech.