Norman, Okla. – Kansas State suffered its worst lost of the season Saturday, falling 38-17 to No. 19 Oklahoma.
The Sooners made it look easy early, scoring touchdowns on their first two possessions to take a 14-0 lead with 6 minutes remaining in the first quarter. The Wildcats responded with a 17-play touchdown drive that ate up more than 8 minutes, capped by a Jesse Ertz 2-yard run for the score to make it 14-7.
Oklahoma answered with a five-play, 77-yard touchdown drive to take a 21-7 lead. The Wildcats returned the ensuing kickoff to the Sooners’ 41-yard line, setting up a short field for the offense. However, K-State’s drive stalled at the Oklahoma 8 as the Wildcats settled for a field goal to cut the deficit to 21-10. However, on the final play of the drive, Ertz was injured and didn’t return the remainder of the half. Ertz returned to the field to start the second half, but after an incomplete pass on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter, pulled himself from the game and didn’t return. Joe Hubener took Ertz’s place, going 12-for-23 passing for 157 yards in the game.
K-State trailed 24-10 at the half but once again struggled in the third quarter, failing to score once again on three offensive possessions. The Wildcats entered the game averaging 3.2 points per game in the third quarter, ranking 115th out of 128 FBS teams and after Saturday, are now averaging 2.6 points in the quarter following the half. K-State has scored just one touchdown in the third quarter this season (against Florida Atlantic) and has scored just 3 total points in the third in three Big 12 games.
The Sooners eventually took a 31-10 lead on a Dede Westbrook touchdown reception with 1:08 remaining in the third quarter. But the K-State offense answered when Hubener hit Dominique Heath for a 54-yard touchdown. But that’s as close as the Wildcats would get.
It was once again an offensive struggle for K-State. The Wildcats averaged just 4.9 yards per play, the worst offensive performance against the Oklahoma defense this season. K-State’s 17 points tied Louisiana Monroe for the fewest points scored against the Sooners this season – a unit that had allowed an average of 44 points over its previous three games. It’s a concerning trend for an offense that only recorded 337 yards of offense against a bad Texas Tech defense the week before, the fewest yards allowed by a Tech defense since 2013.
K-State averaged 6.1 yards per pass attempt Saturday. The Sooners came into the game allowing 8.1 yards per attempt, ranking 98th nationally. In addition, Oklahoma came into the contest ranked 117th out of 128 FBS teams in pass efficiency defense.
The Wildcats struggled to get the running game going, averaging 3.4 yards per rush against a good Oklahoma run defense, which entered Saturday allowing 3.7 yards a carry.
It was also a defensive struggle for the Wildcats, which allowed a season-high 7.8 yards per play (the previous high was 6.5 against Tech). Oklahoma possesses the most balanced offense in the Big 12, and it showed. Despite losing star running back Samaje Perine to an injury early in the game, the Sooners never lost a step. K-State held Oklahoma to its second-lowest rushing total of the season, but the secondary struggled to stop Oklahoma’s passing attack.
The Sooners’ Baker Mayfield came into Saturday ranking second in the country with an average of 10 yards per pass attempt. Against the Wildcats, he averaged 11.6 per attempt, the most by a K-State opponent this season. Oklahoma completed 26 its 32 passes for 372 yards overall with five touchdowns through the air and just one interception. Westbrook led the Sooners with 184 yards receiving and three touchdowns.
K-State failed to generate a pass rush against an Oklahoma offensive line that was allowing sacks on 8 percent of its drop-back attempts, a number that ranked 95th in the country. Saturday marked the first time K-State didn’t record a sack in a game this season.
The Wildcats will look to even their Big 12 record next Saturday when they return home to face Texas, a game that kicks off at 11 a.m.