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Sigh Of Relief: Sooners Rally From Early Hole To Defeat Kansas

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LAWRENCE, Kansas -

A week after a stinging defeat against Texas, the Oklahoma Sooners nearly laid an even worse egg on the road against Kansas.

The Sooners found themselves down 13-0 early in the second quarter, but finally came out of the locker room to rally for a 34-19 win.

If Oklahoma fans were looking for some sort of comfort after the Sooners were pushed around last week in the Cotton Bowl, there was none to be found in Lawrence on Saturday. Minus the stretch from the 12:13 mark of the second quarter to the 10:47 mark of the third quarter, the OU offense once again struggled to find consistent play, both from the run game and quarterback Blake Bell.

Bell was much better against Kanas than he was against Texas a week ago, completing 15-of-25 passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran 10 times for 53 yards, second on the team. However, he struggled mightily in the first quarter and a half, and threw a horrendous interception in the third quarter.

Sterling Shepard had an excellent game after not having a single reception against the Longhorns last week. Shepard finished the game with seven receptions for 82 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Kansas came right out of the gate and punched the Sooners in the mouth—hard. After forcing a punt, Kansas marched 70 yards in 10 plays, 63 of those coming on the ground courtesy of James Sims. The Jayhawks capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown pass from Jake Heaps to Jimmay Mundine.

The Sooners offense picked up where it left off last week against Texas, struggling to get anything going. When they finally put together a decent drive on their third possession, Keith Ford ended it with a fumble. KU pounded the ball back down the Sooners' throats once again, with Sims going in from 11 yards out. After the missed extra points, the Jayhawks led 13-0, leaving the Sooners—and perhaps even their own fans—stunned.

Sims ran for 85 yards in the first quarter alone, and finished the game with 23 carries for 129 yards and two touchdowns.

Sims got zero help from the Kansas passing game on Saturday. Quarterback Jake Heaps finished the day with just 16 yards passing on 5-of-13 passing with the first quarter touchdown. Former Sooner Justin McCay was the Jayhawks leading receiver, catching one pass for 10 yards.

The Sooners finally woke up, spurred by some sound defensive play. Blake Bell began to make some big throws, hitting Jalen Saunders before finding Jaz Reynolds for the 16-yard scoring strike. OU's Matt Dimon blocked the Kansas punt on the next possession, which the Kansas punter kicked out of the end zone for a safety.

After the free kick, Oklahoma dipped deep in the bag of tricks for a 49-yard double reverse touchdown pass from Lacoltan Bester to Sterling Shepard. A 37-yard field goal at the end of the first half sent the Sooners to the locker room on top, 18-13.

The Oklahoma defense was completely eviscerated on the first two Kansas drives, but buckled down to hold the Jayhawks to just 63 yards the rest of the game. The Sooners were able to batten down the hatches on the Kansas run game and then harass Heaps into a dreadful performance through the air.

Special teams was a mixed bag for both teams all afternoon. Kansas missed the extra point on its second touchdown and also had a punt blocked. OU kicker Michael Hunnicutt uncharacteristically missed an extra point, his first miss of the season and just the fourth in his career. Sims' second touchdown of the day, a six-yard run late in the fourth quarter, was set up by a blocked punt by the Jayhawks. On the extra point attempt, OU's Jordan Wade blocked the kick, which was returned by Aaron Colvin for the two-point conversion, putting OU up 27-19.

The Sooners return home next week for a date with undefeated Texas Tech. The Red Raiders survived a great effort from West Virginia on the road to move to 7-0 this season. It will be a tough matchup for the Sooners, easily the toughest besides a road trip to Baylor on November 7. It's also the biggest home game for the Sooners this season, and we should expect an Oklahoma team desperate to come up with season-altering win.

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