No. 3 Oklahoma entered Big 12 conference play against Kansas State with hopes of reaching the Big 12 Championship Game and College Football Playoff. Those dreams still exist, but now the Big 12’s top team doesn’t look so invincible following a surprising 38-35 loss to the Wildcats.
The upset marks Kansas State’s first road win vs. an AP Top 3 team in program history and the second straight win over Oklahoma. Additionally, Chris Klieman became the first coach to beat Oklahoma twice since Lincoln Riley took over as head coach.
This was a total implosion by Oklahoma and there’s really no other way to look at it. The Sooners had a 21-7 lead at the half and at one point led by 21 points with just a couple of minutes remaining in the third quarter. To lose like this — again — to Kansas State is not only a rough look for the Sooners, but for the Big 12’s depth as a whole. Keep in mind that K-State was down seven starters due to COVID-19 concerns and contact tracing.
There’s a lot to take away from the Wildcats’ massive upset. So here’s what we learned.
OU’s offense tanked when it needed to shine
Hold off on the Heisman Trophy chatter for quarterback Spencer Rattler — at least momentarily. While there’s no denying the kid has incredible arm talent, he was definitely more … human … in Oklahoma’s second game. Yes, Rattler passed for 387 yards and four touchdowns, and displayed some incredible accuracy, especially on the run. He also threw three picks, including a final one to seal the game. The first interception wasn’t really his fault as it was a deflected pass. But the second one was an under-thrown ball in tight coverage. Kansas State was able to turn that into six points on its next possession.
But it wasn’t just Rattler. Protection was iffy with Kansas State recording three sacks, six tackles for loss and another three quarterback hurries. Both teams were also heavily penalized with the Sooners stalling on multiple drives due to holding penalties. Oklahoma scored 14 second-half points, but that was on eight possessions. It’s pretty stunning to see the offense get worked and outperformed by an undermanned Kansas State.
OU’s defense is still a liability
The Sooners started the game hot, allowing only 32 yards on the first three possessions. And even at halftime, they held K-State to under 100 yards of offense. Things unraveled in the second half, though. Kansas State started landing some big plays, including a 77-yard catch by running back Deuce Vaughn and a 78-yard catch by Justin Gardner.
In fact, five of the final six possessions of the game for K-State went as follows:
- 5 plays, 29 yards, FG
- 2 plays, 38 yards, TD
- 8 plays, 38 yards, TD
- 3 plays, 75 yards, TD
- 7 plays, 78 yards, TD
In all, Kansas State averaged 7.8 yards per play, and was even better before its final couple of drives. Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch has made strides with this group since arriving at Oklahoma. But too often the Sooners have fallen to these disappearing acts or outright collapses.
Deuce Vaughn is the modern Darren Sproles
You’re going to hear a lot about Vaughn now — namely that he’s 5-foot-5. Yes, he’s short, but he has big-play ability. He finished the day with eight carries for 45 yards and a touchdown. Not bad, considering the Wildcats had a hard time finding a consistent running game. That’s about 5.6 yards per carry. But where Vaughn really made his impact was in the passing game, where he had four receptions for 129 yards. Again, 77 came on one play, but he has great speed, and yes, he can get lost in the coverage a little bit. Either way, Kansas State knows how to use him.
Even though Vaughn has only played two games, it feels as though we can already project that he’ll be super productive in his career and still go unnoticed by NFL scouts. While it’s a little early to say he’ll be every bit as good as Sproles — another Kansas State great who is small in stature — he certainly has done enough to conjure up those comparisons.
K-State capitalized on turnovers
In order to win, Kansas State needed help. Boy did the Wildcats ever get it. They won the turnover battle 4-0 while scoring 14 points off of a Seth McGowan fumble and a Rattler interception. Additionally, Kansas State blocked a punt and scored a touchdown on its ensuing possession. Kansas State also stopped Rattler on a fourth down run and blocked a Sooners punt. That’s essentially six turnovers for 21 points. If you’re going to pull an upset as a four-touchdown underdog, that’s how you do it.
CBS Sports was with you every step of the way for Kansas State’s massive upset. For more on today’s game, check out the live blog feed below.