Kansas State made a giant statement Saturday night on the road in Norman, Okla, and the fifth-ranked Oklahoma Sooners got the message, loud and clear: We're not intimidated with all of your home history or with how you've owned us in the past. You'll have to prove you can beat us tonight, in the here and now.
Coach Bill Snyder and his Wildcats didn't do anything fancy or out of the ordinary. They just did what Snyder's teams always can be counted on doing: run the ball well; play, disciplined, hard-nosed defense; don't beat yourself and make the other team beat you.
That's exactly what Kansas State did Saturday night at a place where Oklahoma's opponents had come away victorious just three times in the last 78 games. You can make that four times now, as the Wildcats spurned the oddsmakers and shocked the Sooners 24-19 in front of a stunned capacity crowd of 85,000 at Gaylord Family-OU Memorial Stadium.
Berry Trammel, sports columnist for the Oklahoma City Daily Oklahoman, summed up the game this way: "Kansas State beat the Sooners every way you can: Out-toughed OU. Out-clutched OU. Out-worked OU. Out-played OU. Out-coached OU."
Kansas State, ranked 15th in the country in the USA Today coaches' poll coming into the game, snapped a five-game losing streak to Oklahoma and handed the Sooners their first loss in 15 games when they have played a ranked team at home in Norman in the 14 seasons Bob Stoops has been the OU head coach. The last time the Wildcats won at Oklahoma before their upset win on Saturday was in 1997.
K-State amassed 362 yards of total offense against the Sooners, 130 coming on the ground from running back John Hubert and 149 yards on 28-43 passing by senior quarterback and team leader Collin Klein. The Wildcats protected the ball and played virtually error-free football, which was a key to their victory. The same could not be said for the Sooners who committed three crucial turnovers at critical times in the game.
Veteran OU quarterback Landry Jones fumbled on his own one-yard line early in the second quarter, which Kansas State defender Jarrell Childs recovered in the end zone to give the Wildcats a 7-3 lead. The Sooners struck right back, driving the length of the field to the K-State one-yard line, but reserve quarterback Blake Bell, who OU frequently brings in on short-yardage plays, fumbled the snap on the succeeding play and the Cats' Ty Zimmerman pounced on the loose ball preventing what looked like a sure Sooner touchdown that would have regained the lead.
With the Sooners holding on to a narrow 13-10 lead early in the fourth quarter, Jones threw a game-changing interception that was thrown right to Cat cornerback Zimmerman and led to a go-ahead score that put K-state in the lead for good.
This may have been Jones' worst performance as the Sooners' four-year starter at quarterback, and he knew it. "We played real dumb football, especially me," the fifth-year senior said after the game.
Seventeen of Kansas State's points came directly from Oklahoma turnovers. "When your turning the ball over, it's going to kill you," Stoops said. It certainly did Saturday night, as the Wildcats jumped to the top of the Big 12 standings with a 4-0 record and a conference-opening win. Meanwhile, the Sooners, the conference preseason favorite by a vote of the league coaches, fell to 2-1, with a loss that could end up knocking them out of contention for an eighth Big 12 championship.
OU's Jones came into the season as one of players being talked about as a Heisman Trophy candidate and a potential first-round NFL draft pick, but it was the physical and tough-minded Klein who played like an All-American on Saturday.
"Our coaches did an amazing job of preparing us and putting us into position to be successful," Klein said. "We didn't execute that well to start and missed some chances, but we did want we had to."
There were only four other games involving Big 12 teams on the schedule over the weekend. TCU, West Virginia and Baylor came out winners, while Kansas suffered its third loss of the season in four games, losing at Northern Illinois.
TCU is at SMU next weekend and Oklahoma entertains Notre Dame in late October, but the eight other conference schools have competed their nonconference schedule. The Big 12 is 25-3 this season against nonconference opponents and 52-6 over the last two seasons (58-8 including bowl games).
Here are five other things we learned from last weekend's Big 12 games:
Five Things We Learned From Week 4
- Three of the top five teams in college football with the longest active win streaks are from the Big 12: 1. TCU (11), 2. Baylor (9) and T5. West Virginia (7). All three won their games in Week 4 to extend their streaks.
- TCU quarterback Casey Pachall threw his first interception of the season on Saturday vs. Virginia. He has eight touchdowns in 71 pass attempts. West Virginia's Geno Smith (118 pass attempts, 12 touchdowns) and Texas' David Ash (72 attempts, 7 touchdowns) have yet to throw an interception through three games.
- Baylor scored 17 straight points in the second quarter to erase a 21-7 deficit, and then came from behind in the fourth quarter to avoid being the second team from a BCS conference to lose this season to Louisiana-Monroe of the Sun Belt Conference. The Bears scored 10 points late and held on for a 45-42 victory at Louiaiana Monroe. The Warhawks' first two games (a win over then eighth-ranked Arkansas and a loss to Auburn) went to overtime.
- Kansas couldn't hold on to a 23-13 fourth-quarter lead, giving up 17 unanswered points in a 30-23 loss at Northern Illinois. The loss was the Jayhawks' 16th consecutive road defeat. Kansas (1-3) is the only Big 12 team with more than one loss.
- TCU had not yielded a touchdown this season before Virginia scored with four and a half minutes to go Saturday to avoid being shut out. The Horned Frogs have given up only 13 points in three games (56-0 over Grambling State, 20-6 over Kansas and 27-7 vs. Virginia).
Watch for the Big 12 Game of the Week preview - Texas at Oklahoma State - this Friday.
Follow Big 12 football all season long, including specific news and commentary on the two Kansas teams, at SB Nation Kansas City.