Oklahoma has dominated Kansas for more than two decades.
But Saturday’s meeting between the Big 12 teams in Norman, Okla., is different.
The Jayhawks (5-1, 2-1) are the ranked team this year, remaining at No. 19 following last week’s 38-31 loss to TCU.
It’s the Sooners (3-3, 0-3) who are reeling, having dropped three consecutive games for the first time since 1998.
Oklahoma has won 17 straight meetings between the teams, with Kansas’ last win coming in 1997.
Saturday’s game is just the third time since then that the Jayhawks have been ranked heading into the game (2008 and ’09, when OU drilled them 45-31 and 35-13). It’s just the second time Oklahoma has entered the matchup unranked (2005, when the Sooners won, 19-3).
Quarterback Jalon Daniels has been a significant piece of the Jayhawks’ success this season, with 1,413 total yards, 11 passing touchdowns and five rushing touchdowns in the six games.
But the Jayhawks are likely to be without Daniels against the Sooners after the junior suffered a shoulder injury late in the first half against the Horned Frogs. Kansas coach Lance Leipold said Daniels was doubtful for Saturday’s game, although with backup quarterback Jason Bean throwing for 262 yards and four touchdowns against TCU, the KU offense was not the problem in that defeat.
It was originally reported that Daniels was going to be out for the season with Grade 3 separation, but he quickly denied those claims, tweeting “That’s News to Me.”
The Sooners expect their quarterback to return against the Jayhawks.
Dillon Gabriel was injured against TCU on Oct. 1 and Oklahoma’s offense has struggled in his absence.
Backup Davis Beville is just 13 of 28 for 88 yards with no touchdowns and an interception in six-plus quarters since Gabriel’s injury.
In last week’s 49-0 loss to Texas, the Sooners largely went with a wildcat offense, using a string of running backs and receivers to take snaps.
Gabriel, who has thrown for 1,215 yards and 11 touchdowns with no interceptions, said Monday he remained in concussion protocol but was on track to return.
“He’s full-go in practice,” Sooners coach Brent Venables said. “If he continues to stay out of harm’s way in regard to that protocol, I would expect him to play.”
Leipold said he didn’t expect Oklahoma’s struggles to continue much longer.
“I think it’s a case of some other teams playing their best ball against them and playing very well,” Leipold said. “That’s too good of a staff, too good of a program and roster.”
During the current losing streak, the Sooners have allowed 48.3 points per game.
Venables, in his first season as head coach after more than two decades as a defensive coordinator at Oklahoma and Clemson, said things were going wrong across the board for the defense. The Sooners had given up just 30 points combined in their first three games.
“I know we’re not playing fundamentally sound,” Venables said. “We’re not tackling well.”
Before the five-game winning streak to start the season, Kansas had not won more than three games in any season since 2009.
In last season’s meeting, Kansas led 10-0 at halftime before the Sooners took control in the second half, ultimately winning 35-23 — a margin that was expanded with a touchdown in the final minute.
–Field Level Media