They say that in football you're either lucky or you're good. That wasn't quite the case in Norman on Saturday as Kansas State was both. The Wildcats capitalized on two Oklahoma turnovers and three special teams' miscues to upset the 11th ranked Sooners 31-30.
Perhaps lost in Saturday's setback was Oklahoma's best offensive performance during the month of October. The Sooners passed for 335 yards and ran for 198 more against the Big 12's best run defense. They posted 30 points on the board and had a 7-11 mark on third downs. All of those are improvements over the previous couple of weeks but none of them were enough to overcome Oklahoma's mistakes.
People can make an argument that the coaching staff should shoulder the blame for poor play-calling and schematics but the reality is that this game came down to Oklahoma's poor execution. Senior kicker Michael Hunnicutt received a lion's share of grief after the game for the seven points that he left out on the field. He pulled a field goal wide just before the half that left the Sooners trailing 24-17 at the break. Then he had an extra point blocked that would have tied the game at 31 before shanking his final attempt that would have put OU up with just a few minutes left in the game.
No one was more shocked to see Oklahoma's kicking miscues than Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder. "And the youngster that missed the field goal, he will go another hundred years without missing another field goal," Snyder said. "So we were just lucky. That happens." Even after seeing him miss I would still bet on Hunnicutt making all three of those kicks again. It was just one of those type of days and there's a line of blame to go through before you get to Oklahoma's leading scorer.
Trevor Knight put the Sooners behind for the first time on the day with a poor decision and an even worse pass near Oklahoma's own goal line. It was the second pick-6 that Knight has thrown in the last three games and it was a horrible mistake. "It was a poor decision to make the throw," Bob Stoops said about the play. "It was one of those where you hand it off or throw it if it's an easy throw. The throw wasn't an easy one."
Speaking of bad decisions, the reverse pass by Durron Neal took points off the board for the Sooners as well. "I didn't even talk about that one," Stoops responded when asked about it. "That's another scoring opportunity with the wind and we throw an interception."
You could question the coaching decision to call that play but I'm still going to blame it on poor execution. I question why the coaching staff teased us with the I-Formation on third and short during one point of Oklahoma's final drive but then went back to the spread/shotgun to run the ball up the middle on the third and goal call? Is this a good time to bring up the fact that in both of Oklahoma's losses they failed to convert on short yardage with the game on the line?
Bill Snyder has built the Kansas State program on the foundation of playing fundamentally sound/disciplined football and capitalizing on their opponents mistakes. That's exactly what he did to Oklahoma on Saturday and the Sooners were more than willing to oblige. "Turnovers, those are significant," Snyder said. "In all reality, that is the difference in the ballgame. We get a turnover and get seven points out of it and we don't turn the ball over."
Quarterbacks - Take away the bad decision on his interception and Trevor Knight was pretty spectacular. He only had six incomplete passes, in thirty-two attempts, and threw three touchdowns. However, we can't take away that bad decision and it was costly. Shout out to Cody Thomas for his efforts while Knight was shaken up. Overall Grade: B-
Running Backs - Kansas State was holding opponents to less than three yards a carry coming into this game and the Sooners backs were well above that. Samaje Perine averaged 3.7 yards per carry and Alex Ross 9.4. Overall Grade: A
Receivers/TEs - Five different receivers caught passes from Trevor Knight including Sterling Shepard who had another career day with 197 yards on 15 catches. Durron Neal did throw an interception, and just like Knight's, it was costly. Overall Grade: B+
Offensive Line - The Sooners were well ahead of the average K-State allows for yards per carry (team average of 4.7) and Trevor Knight was not sacked on the day. Still couldn't get enough push for that one yard though. Overall Grade: B+