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Oklahoma Sooners Football: OU overcomes slow start to down Kansas, 45-20

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The elements weren't favorable, but Oklahoma eventually found its groove in Lawrence.

NCAA Football: Oklahoma at Kansas Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

After a thirty minute weather delay pushed back the kickoff, the No. 6 Oklahoma Sooners overcame a slow start to cruise past the Kansas Jayhawks, 45-20. With the win, OU improves to 5-0 on the season and 2-0 in Big 12 play. The nation’s longest active true road game winning streak is also extended to 22.

Just before this one kicked off, it became known that starting offensive tackles Erik Swenson and Adrian Ealy would both miss the game. That made doing much of anything on offense a challenge, resulting in QB Jalen Hurts and RB Trey Sermon having trouble finding much room to operate in the first half. Overall, the makeshift O-line contributed to the below average scoring and yardage output coming through two quarters, but played a bit more solidified in the second half.

The rainy weather may have played a role in the Sooners’ slow start, as well as possibly looking ahead to next week’s Red River Showdown with UT, but you won’t hear any excuses from this team. At the end of the day, there are plenty of areas that need improvement, but finding those out in a comfortable win like this is the ideal scenario.

13 Sooners recorded a reception on Saturday, but surprisingly, none of them reached 40 receiving yards. Part of that was because of the missing starters along the offensive line, which didn’t give Hurts much of a pocket to work with on a number of drop-backs. That, and the Jayhawks DBs were making solid plays on the ball down the field. For the game, Hurts completed 16 of 24 passes (66.7%) for 228 yards and two touchdowns, all of which were season lows. He was also intercepted for just the second time this season after an incredibly fortunate pass to Sermon wound up in a defenders hands in a wacky exchange.

For the first time this season, Oklahoma gave up points in the opening quarter and trailed an opponent. Despite a sluggish start, neither of those firsts lasted very long. Still, Alex Grinch’s defense gave up a number of big run plays to KU’s Pooka Williams, and Jayhawks signal caller Carter Stanley was able to thread the needle several times late against the Sooners’ starting secondary for big gains and scores. Those kinds of defensive lapses need to and will be addressed this week with the biggest game of the season on deck.

Speaking of addressing problems, penalties have been one of the team’s few glaring issues since the 2019 season kicked off, and once again, the Sooners were plagued by several ill-timed fouls. After being tagged eight times for 89 yards, perhaps what’s most frustrating about the flags was that many of them were avoidable, and that’s where team leaders need to step up and lead by example. For the past few seasons, Kansas has brought the fight to Oklahoma, and OU has too often taken the bait.

Without the services of RB Kennedy Brooks in Lawrence, junior Rhamondre Stevenson stepped up and turned in the most prolific performance of his young Oklahoma career, rushing for 109 yards on five carries and continuing his streak of scoring a touchdown in every game this season.

By the week, he’s proving he’s more than just a change of pace back. He’s a legitimate offensive weapon that is earning more playing time with every carry. Look for him to pick up more steam in the backfield as the schedule rolls along.

Next Saturday, it’s the game you’ve been waiting for. In Dallas, at the historic Cotton Bowl, Oklahoma will cross the Red River to square off against the Texas Longhorns. OU came up short in last season’s battle for the Golden Hat, but won the rematch in the Big 12 Championship.

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