Kansas’ task couldn’t be much more difficult on Senior Day. The Jayhawks, who will honor 10 final-year players before Saturday’s game, welcome an Oklahoma team that has risen to fourth in the College Football Playoff rankings following last week’s 38-20 home victory over TCU. The Sooners also have won 12 straight games against the Jayhawks.
KU key to success: Strike it big. Oklahoma’s defense has been susceptible to chunk plays, allowing 26 30-plus-yard passes this season — the second-worst mark in the nation. Receiver Steven Sims has been KU’s best deep threat, so look for the Jayhawks to get him involved often with hopes he can break free.
Oklahoma key to success: Take care of the ball. The Jayhawks have a lot of ground to make up talent-wise, and the easiest way to do that is by forcing turnovers. KU, though, has only created nine takeaways this season — the lowest total in the Big 12.
Oklahoma player to watch: Though Heisman Trophy favorite Baker Mayfield is the obvious choice here, be sure to also watch out for defensive end Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, a player who KU offensive coordinator Doug Meacham says is the best pass-rusher in the league.
Key matchup: Mayfield vs. KU’s pass defense. Oklahoma, which leads the nation in pass yards per attempt (12.2), will go against a KU secondary that’s been picked on all season. Add in that the Jayhawks are battling injuries — defensive back Shakial Taylor, for example, will not play in the final two games — and the Jayhawks appear to be in a tough spot as they try to slow down the Sooners.
Jesse Newell’s prediction: Oklahoma 52, Kansas 20. KU’s passing game showed some positive signs last week, even if three interceptions ended up being the difference in the game. If the Jayhawks can continue that growth, they should be able to put up some points against Oklahoma, which has a superhero offense but only a so-so defense. The problem for KU will be getting stops, though, and the Sooners getting to 50-plus in this one seems like a safe bet.