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Oklahoma Football vs. Kansas: Game preview, storylines & predictions

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Think of this as a nice little tun-up before Texas.

West Virginia v Kansas Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Time & TV: Saturday, 11 a.m. CT, ABC

Commentators: Dave Pasch (play-by-play), Greg McElroy (analyst), Tom Luginbill (sideline reporter)

Line: Oklahoma -32 (as of Friday at 5:30 p.m.)

O/U: 67.5

OU Game Notes

Kansas Game Notes

Q&A with Rock Chalk Talk

Oklahoma Breakdown Podcast: Raving about Alex Grinch, discussing the defense, recapping Texas Tech, previewing Kansas

Blatant Homerism Podcast: Interview with Bob Stoops

Kamiar’s appearance on the Rock Chalk Pod

Storylines

The return of Les Miles

Fun Fact: Les Miles (2-2) and Mike Gundy (2-14) have the same number of Bedlam wins at Oklahoma State.

Kansas made the not-so-difficult decision to fire David Beaty after going 6-42 overall and 2-34 in Big 12 play during his four years in Lawrence. That opened the door for The Mad Hatter Les Miles to come out of retirement and attempt to turn around a program that has been absolutely abysmal since firing Mark Mangino.

The Jayhawks are 2-3 under Miles thus far including a 12-7 home loss to Coastal Carolina and a 48-24 road beatdown of Boston College in consecutive weeks. What does that mean? We have absolutely no idea which Kansas team will show up on Saturday. Regardless, this team clearly loves playing for the guy, and you better believe he’ll have them prepared.

Do I think they have a chance to keep this one somewhat close for a second year in a row? Absolutely not, but what does worry me is the potential for Miles’ staff’s game plan to expose some flaws and help create a blueprint for future opponents (namely Texas).

Kansas’ Rushing Attack

Pooka Williams Jr. absolutely torched Oklahoma last year for 252 yards and two touchdowns on just 15 carries last year in Norman. Williams and his now-former backfield mate Khalil Herbert (who has been dismissed from the team) have shown they are capable of breaking off big runs at the drop of a hat, as evidenced by their combined 301 yards on the ground against Boston College. Now it will be up to Williams and the other backs on the roster to pick up the slack for the now-absent Herbert, who had been leading Big 12 running backs in yards per carry prior to missing the TCU game.

The Oklahoma Sooners defense has surrendered 4.35 yards per rush this season and has not been tested with a good rushing attack since facing Houston. Think of this as an opportunity to fine tune the rush defense before the Red River Shootout.

Jalen Hurts’ Heisman Campaign Continues

Jalen Hurts has played out of his mind through the first four games of the season. He’s second in the nation averaging 434.5 yards of total offense per game and is currently on pace to shatter the single-season passing efficiency record. Heisman voters look at numbers more than anything else, and this weekend is a great opportunity to put up some big ones.

Kansas ranks 66th nationally in defensive SP+, and while that’s on pace to be the best mark for the program since 2013, it’s safe to say that this group isn’t quite capable of getting getting more than a few stops against this offense.

Adrian Ealy

Riley has stated that this isn’t a long-term thing, and I’d be willing to bet that Ealy is back for the Texas game. Having said that, it’s important for this group to be able to gel as much as possible by that game, and the injury situations haven’t helped one bit in that regard. Seeing Ealy out there this weekend would obviously be somewhat reassuring in that regard, but at the same time, they’re not going to rush him back just for that purpose. I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if they kept him out against Kansas even in the event of being cleared.

Prediction

Something would have to go horribly wrong for OU for this game to be even remotely competitive. As long as the defense doesn’t let Pooka Williams run wild like last year, expect this game to be over early. Riley will look to pull his starters early with Texas looming next week, so we could see a heavy dose of Tanner Mordecai/Spencer Rattler in the second half.

Oklahoma 56, Kansas 14