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

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After six long weeks, OU returns to the Palace on the Prairie.

NCAA Football: Iowa State at Kansas Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

A lot has happened since the No. 19 Oklahoma Sooners (4-2, 3-2) last played a home football game. The Lakers won the NBA Finals, the Dodgers won the World Series, pumpkins were carved, candy was eaten, and the 2020 Presidential Election took place (or something like that). Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, OU is back in Norman and ready to host the abysmal Kansas Jayhawks (0-6, 0-5). While one team appears to be rounding into championship form, the other continues to struggle in almost every phase of the game. Will each of these narratives hold true on Saturday? Let’s find out.

Date, Time & TV: Saturday, Nov. 7 at 2:30 p.m. CT on ESPN

Location: Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium — Norman, Oklahoma

Streaming: WatchESPN

Line: Oklahoma -38 (as of Friday at 1 p.m. CT)

O/U: 63.5

Links of the week:

Major Storylines

Is this the worst Kansas team ever?

Since the 2009 season, the KU football program has seen a decline in relevancy that would make even the folks in Austin blush. Now going on 12 years since the Jayhawks fielded a winning team, it’s become an exercise in futility to try to pinpoint rock chalk’s rock bottom. Perhaps that was 2015, when Kansas pulled off a perfect 0-12 campaign and lost each contest by an average clip of nearly 31 points per game in David Beaty’s first year. Fast-forward to the present, and this 2020 squad (-30 ppg scoring margin) may be even worse.

Aside from potentially losing every game on the schedule for just the second time in the last 65 years, today’s Jayhawks are less talented and experienced than they were even at the start of the season. Star player Pooka Williams opted out midseason, and after trotting out different experiments at quarterback, Les Miles has seemingly settled on true freshman Jalon Daniels. Speaking of which, KU leads the Big 12 with 37 freshmen on its roster, meaning a bulk of the team not only lacks elite talent but also experience.

It remains to be seen if Kansas will finish 2020 with a modicum of momentum, but for now, not even that possibility holds much promise.

Will Oklahoma avoid a slow start and leave no doubt?

The Sooners have been one of the best first quarter squads in the FBS this season, outscoring opponents 89-10 through the game’s opening 15 minutes. With an opponent as overmatched as the one they’ll face this weekend, it’ll be paramount for Oklahoma to respect its competition, regardless of who lines up on the other side, and prove it is the more prepared, more dominant team.

How many reps will the OU backups receive?

Part of building adequate depth is allowing second and third team players to see the field in whatever capacity possible. If Oklahoma handles its business like it should in the first half, several Sooners will be afforded the opportunity to gain invaluable reps in live action. That also would allow essential starters like Spencer Rattler, Creed Humphrey and others to sit early, preserving them for this final stretch of the regular season and possibly the Big 12 Championship Game.

Will we see Jadon Haselwood?

Signs point to ‘yes’, but how much we see of him is another matter. Will he be out there as much as he would have if not for coming off of an injury? In his first action back, I seriously doubt it, but a nice chunk of in-game reps to knock the rust off seems probable. Regardless, this is a moment OU fans have been patiently awaiting for quite some time, and I personally can’t wait to (potentially) see him out there.

What can we learn about this team from a game like this?

In a mismatch as wide as this one, simply covering the spread won’t necessarily provide any answers about who this team is or what it can become, but one thing this team can demonstrate through how it plays is its level of maturity. When Big 12 play began, this relatively young Oklahoma group quickly developed a bad reputation for losing leads and looking terrible while doing so. A lot of those deficiencies were a product of inexperience. As the weeks have carried on, the Sooners have shown growth and determination typical of teams with strong veteran leadership. If OU is ready from kickoff and performs up to its capability, that will bode well for the trajectory of the program moving forward.

What else will I be doing while this beatdown goes on?

I’m kind of a weirdo whenever I watch OU games, because I don’t eat or drink anything until the games are over. Call it superstition or nerves or whatever, it’s just something I’ve been doing for years. That said, I’m feeling pretty confident about this one, so when the game is on, I plan on enjoying some ribs and serving myself a few helpings of my famous mac ‘n cheese. Mainly, I’m excited to say that I’ll be with my family for the first time in weeks. Win or lose, there’s absolutely nothing better than that.

Prediction

Nothing about this matchup leads me to believe it will be all that close. Without its playmakers making plays, KU has had some serious difficulty scoring points this season, and OU’s defense is playing as well as it has all season. On the other side of the equation, Lincoln Riley’s offense has clearly found its rhythm, and the Jayhawks don’t exactly present any obvious challenges from a talent or schematic perspective. If Spencer Rattler continues to make smart decisions with the ball, and the Sooners’ offensive and defensive lines dominate Kansas in the trenches, this should not be a competitive contest. Ultimately, I expect Oklahoma to start fast and turn in a complete performance from start to finish.

Oklahoma 63, Kansas 6

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