The Oklahoma Sooners (2-0) open Big 12 play at home on Saturday night, Sept. 22, against the Kansas State Wildcats. While OU has not looked great in its opening games of the 2012 season, a big showing against the Wildcats (3-0) could go a long way to straightening the team out, heading into the meat of its season.
OU and Kansas State have a long history. Sooners head coach Bob Stoops coached under Bill Snyder at Kansas State from 1989-1995, starting out as a defensive backs coach before moving into a co-defensive coordinator role. Stoops helped transform the Kansas State defense into a national powerhouse. OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops also worked with his brother at Kansas State, serving as an assistant coach from 1992-1998 before Bob took the head job at OU and hired him to join him with the Sooners.
[Related: Stoops calls out the fans…again.]
Of course, this all started at Iowa under legendary head coach Hayden Fry. Bill Snyder coached under Fry at both North Texas (1976-78) and Iowa (1979-88). While there, Bob, Mike and Mark Stoops all excelled as football players for the Hawkeyes before they translated their experience into coaching. Other current and former OU coaches to work under Fry include former offensive coordinator Check Long and current co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell.
Since taking over as the head coach at OU, Stoops has dominated his mentor. OU is 7-1 against Kansas State while Snyder coached the team. Overall, the Sooners are 71-17-4 against the Wildcats, with a 35-6-3 record in Norman. Also playing in the Sooners’ favor is an 11-2 record in Big 12 opening games, 7-0 at home.
Despite the numbers, OU knows that the Wildcats are not a team to mess around with.
“I think they are as dangerous as anybody in the conference,” senior defensive end R.J. Washington said. “You have a quarterback that rushes for 22 carries in one game. The first two games they averaged 51 points a game. We played them last year so I know how good they are. People can say what they want, but we know.”
Kansas State has opened the season with wins over Missouri State and North Texas, but the big victory for the Wildcats came on Sept. 8 when they blew out the Miami Hurricanes, 52-13. While Miami (2-1) is not the powerhouse it once was, the win was huge for Kansas State. The team was led in that game by quarterback Collin Klein, who has 609 passing yards and 210 rushing yards, with nine touchdowns, four on the ground.
“It’s going to physical and it’s going to be tough,” said defensive end Rashod Favors. “But that’s what you want playing football. You want to play the physical teams. They have a great quarterback and a great system. Everyone knows what Coach Snyder has done up there at K-State. It’s going to be a battle and that’s what we’re looking forward to.”
OU has to get its offense in motion. The defense has played well, but quarterback Landry Jones has been struggling at times with his new receivers. Kenny Stills remains the go-to receiver, with 241 yards and two touchdowns through the air. However, Trey Metoyer (7/51 yards/1 TD) and Justin Brown (6/87 yards) have not integrated themselves into the game yet on a regular basis.
“You want a receiver that wants the ball,” Jones said. “If you had a guy out there that just kind of ran his route and (said), ‘It’s cool if you don’t throw it to me,’ that’s not the kind of attitude that a quarterback would like to see in his receiver. It is nice to see that out of a receiver and out of someone that wants the ball and wants to compete.”
One area that OU always excels is in the running game. 2012 is no different as Oklahoma has a new weapon in Damien Williams. Williams leads the Sooners with 260 yards and five touchdowns on just 20 carries. He shares the load with returning starter Dominique Whaley, who has 117 yards and one touchdown on 21 carries.
“There’s no question we’re striving to play as physical as we can on the perimeter,” Norvell said. “You start conference play, you know it’s gonna be a lot more physical, especially on the edge. To be able to run this ball in this conference the way you have to against a quality opponent like Kansas State, we’ve gotta do a good job on the outside as well.”
The Oklahoma Sooners and Kansas State Wildcats kick off at 6:50 p.m. CT in Norman, Oklahoma. The game will be aired nationally on FOX Sports.
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