NORMAN, Okla. — The feeling heading into No. 4 Oklahoma’s meeting with Kansas on Saturday is one of inevitability. It’s not a matter of how the Sooners are going to win; it’s by how many.
After all, the Jayhawks (1-9, 0-7 Big 12) are the one conference team that historically causes the Sooners (9-1, 6-1) no defensives issues. Oklahoma has allowed just 17 points in the last three meetings.
The College Football Playoff implications for the Sooners are straightforward: win big and get it done quickly. That’s something Oklahoma hasn’t done since September. All seven Big 12 games thus far were decided by 3 possessions or less.
So, Oklahoma has goals for its trip to Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kan. that go beyond getting the 10th win. Here they are:
Get Baker Mayfield out quickly
The Oklahoma quarterback’s Heisman Trophy campaign goes beyond numbers. His play in the “big games” made him the front-runner. This isn’t one of the measuring-stick games.
What Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley would like to see is Mayfield guide the offense on 5 or 6 touchdowns in the first half and then turn things over to Kyler Murray. Mayfield’s backup and heir apparent for next season hasn’t played for a complete series since September. You get the feeling Oklahoma wants him to get as much time on the field as Mayfield on Saturday.
The Sooners seem to have as much offensive momentum as they have had all season. An explosive first half should be enough for that group.
Rotate Tre Brown, Tre Norwood and Parnell Motley
Senior cornerback Jordan Thomas is questionable due to a knee injury. If he isn’t 100 percent, there’s no need in playing him against Kansas.
What Oklahoma needs to do is rebuild the confidence of sophomore cornerback Parnell Motley. Freshman Tre Brown and Tre Norwood should start against Kansas. They’ve earned the right with their play in the last two games.
In this age, rotating cornerbacks like offenses rotate receivers is essential. Oklahoma needs to treat those spots in that manner.
Restore Abdul Adams’ confidence
In early October, Adams was one of Oklahoma’s most explosive players. The ankle injury he suffered against Iowa State slowed him down. Putting the ball on the turf led to his benching against Oklahoma State and TCU. Adams has just 2 carries for 6 yards in the last two games.
The Sooners need to get him going. Adams averages 10.1 yards a carry. There’s too much talent to let it linger on the bench. Even if he fumbles again on Saturday, let him try to play through it.
If Oklahoma is going to make a national championship run, it needs every playmaker ready to go. Rehabbing Adams’ confidence should be a goal today.
Re-ingrain Jeff Badet to the offense
The emergence of CeeDee Lamb and Marquise Brown moved the senior transfer down the options list. Lamb has 1 reception — a 5-yard touchdown against Oklahoma State — in the last 3 games.
This should be a good day to get Jeff Badet going. He has blazing speed and he’s made quality catches this season. The 1 catch he’s had in the last three games was a jet sweep. Let Badet use that speed. Sooners will need it at some point to get winning.
Oklahoma needs to empty the bench
Oklahoma releases a depth chart every week. But the only way you know what you have is to get the guys on the field and play. The linebackers — Caleb Kelly, Kenneth Murray and Emmanuel Beal — have played almost every snap since late September. It’s the same case for offensive tackles Orlando Brown and Bobby Evans.
The Sooners get to suit up 70 players for a Big 12 road game. It would be in their best interest to use all of them by the fourth quarter.