KU Set to Face No. 3 Sooners

By AVERY OSEN Associated Press

LAWRENCE, Kan (AP) — Caleb Williams is the starting quarterback at No. 3 Oklahoma. The freshman hopes to go out and be himself. 

Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley put Williams in two weeks ago against Texas and he led a comeback for a 55-48 victory. After replacing Spencer Rattler, Williams has thrown for 661 yards, and has eight touchdowns. 

Williams shined in his first start for the Sooners, throwing for 295 yards and four touchdown passes in a 21-point win over TCU last week. He’s also had some big runs rushing for 66 yards and a touchdown Saturday.

“I knew he was athletic on tape and had some thickness in his lower body that suggested he could run the ball some,” Riley said. “I knew he was going to make some plays and get loose. It’s been nice to see his ability to make some people miss.”

Oklahoma (7-0, 4-0 Big 12) is ready for an off week, and this week might be the closest they get to one. They’ve played seven straight games and won’t get a week off until after the game against Texas Tech on October 30. 

That’ll leave just three games left in the regular season when the Sooners can take a breath and evaluate the year so far.

“We just had some down time and didn’t get on the field on Monday with this being our eighth straight game which is not that normal,” Riley said. “We’ll doing that during long stretches to reduce the time on the field, but the rest of the practices this week are very important.”

Kansas (1-5, 0-3) has lost their five games this season by an average of 33 points and come into this game as 38 1/2-point underdogs.

One concern for the Sooners is the secondary where they lost cornerback D.J. Graham to an apparent head injury in a 52-31 win over TCU on Saturday. This marks the third cornerback to be injured this season with both Woodi Washington and Jeremiah Criddell already being sidelined. 

“We hope to get some of these key pieces back, which would be great,” Riley said. “We’ve had to make it work and develop depth and out guys have done a good job of that.”

Kansas will need to be much better on the passing attack if they want to stand a chance against Oklahoma. Jason Bean is averaging a little over 75 yards per conference game in the air and has one touchdown in three Big 12 games. 

“Consistency and decision making, and I know Jason isn’t happy with his performances and we’re working with him,” Kansas head coach Lance Leipold said. “He has been hesitant with some things and stops trusting his training. That turns into plays we don’t want. We need to be better there.”

Miles Kendrick came in at the end of the 41-14 loss to Texas Tech on Saturday and threw two touchdowns in the final minute of the game. 

“He is continuing to work hard and show flashes of what he can do,” Leipold said. “He is highly competitive and gave us something to feel decent about at the end of the game.”

THE SERIES

The Sooners take on a Kansas team that hasn’t won a conference game in nearly two years. The Jayhawks last win against Oklahoma came in 1997 in a 20-17 victory in Lawrence. Oklahoma is 16-0 against Kansas since 2000.

FINDING THE HOLES

Kennedy Brooks has been a spark on the ground for Oklahoma the past two games. He’s ran for 370 yards and three touchdowns in the past two games. 

“I think it’s been a really good year for running backs in our league,” Riley said. “Offensively, it’s the toughest position to fill and everyone across this league is running pretty well.”

NOT GOING BACKWARD

Despite the 1-5 start, Kansas is one of the least penalized teams in the country. They’ve only had 27 penalties called against them all season which is the least in the Big 12. 

EMBRACE THE OPPORTUNITY

It would be one of the biggest upsets in college football history, but Leipold is excited for his team to take on one of the best teams in the country.

“We have to play our best football, but we will embrace it,” Leipold said. “We’re ready for another game on national television and compete in a Big 12 game.”

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