Third-ranked Sooners hit road to tangle with hapless Jayhawks

The third-ranked Oklahoma Sooners will attempt digit victory to open the season when they take on the Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday night in Lawrence.

Last weekend, Oklahoma made a major statement with a 55-17 thrashing of Texas in a game that figured to be much closer. The Sooners have now scored 117 points in their last two outings and appear to be unstoppable. Bob Stoops' group has also beaten the likes of Florida State and Missouri thus far, so it is fair to say that the competition level has been significant.

"I'm very pleased with the overall play and preparation," said Stoops after the Texas game. "I want to compliment the players. They're the ones that got it done and made the plays when they had the opportunities, and they made a bunch of big plays today."

Since winning back-to-back games over lackluster opponents to open the season, Turner Gill's Kansas team has simply fallen apart. The Jayhawks have suffered three consecutive defeats, all by double figures, including a pair of 42-point setbacks. Last week, the club was completely embarrassed by Oklahoma State in a 70-28 laugher.

"All I can say is in the second half, our guys continued to compete throughout the game," said Gill after that most recent beating. "We talked about that, to just keep playing and try to get better, try to improve as a football team; offense, defense and special teams. I think there was some of that."

Oklahoma owns a 68-27-6 series advantage over Kansas, which includes a 35-13 triumph over the Jayhawks in the most recent meeting two seasons ago.

The Sooners are fortunate to have one of the nation's top signal callers in Landry Jones, who continues to post huge numbers. Last week against Texas, Jones threw for 367 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. Star wideout Ryan Broyles had nine catches for 122 yards and a score, while tailback Dom Whaley rushed for 83 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. Still, the offense took a back seat to the defense last weekend.

Oklahoma scored three defensive touchdowns against Texas, a feat that is all the more impressive when considering that the Longhorn offense managed just one TD all afternoon against the Sooners. All three defensive scores covered 55 or more yards, and two came on fumble returns.

"Yeah, that's really pretty special," said Stoops of the three defensive TDs. "To me there is nothing more fun than a defensive touchdown, especially when you're on that side of it. It is an OU record."

Through five outings, Oklahoma is posting 45.0 ppg and 534.6 total ypg, and the passing game has clearly been the strength of the offense. Jones has already thrown for 1,814 yards, having completed 69.3 percent of his passes with 13 touchdowns against five INTs. Broyles has made 47 catches for 598 yards and seven scores, while Whaley has rushed for 462 yards and eight TDs.

Opposing offenses have mustered just eight touchdowns against OU in 20 quarters of football. The Sooners are limiting opponents to 3.1 yards per rushing attempt, and while they do allow a rather high average of 12.5 yards per pass completion, nine interceptions have been recorded. Fran Alexander has already recorded 5.5 sacks for OU, while Tony Jefferson has a team-high four INTs.

Kansas actually took a 7-0 lead over Oklahoma State last weekend, as Jordan Webb tossed a 10-yard touchdown pass to Tim Biere early in the first quarter. Unfortunately for the Jayhawks, things quickly fell apart, as the Cowboys scored five offensive touchdowns over the final nine minutes of the opening stanza and three more in the second quarter. While KU was able to post 478 total yards in the affair, including 316 passing yards from Webb, Oklahoma State mustered 600 total yards and 10 touchdowns.

"It is embarrassing and is something I do not want to be a part of," said Kansas defensive tend Toben Opurum of seeing 70 points on the scoreboard. "We cannot do anything about it right now. We need to put it behind us and continue to work hard."

The Jayhawks are generating 34.6 ppg this season to go along with 459.8 total ypg. They have been able to move the ball via the ground attack and the passing game, mustering over 200 ypg by each means of attack. Webb has completed 68.4 percent of his passes for 1,130 yards with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions, and both D.J. Beshears and Tim Biere have 19 receptions thus far. As for tailback James Sims, he has run for 380 yards and five scores.

If something isn't done to correct the glaring defensive deficiencies, Kansas may not win another game this season. The Jayhawks are being victimized for 49.4 ppg and 556.0 total ypg, as they have looked helpless against both the run and the pass. They have yielded 6.2 yards per rushing attempt and 18 rushing scores while permitting nearly 13 yards per pass completion and 18 passing TDs.