On a frigid and rain-soaked afternoon in Lawrence, Kansas pulled off the biggest upset of the 2023 season to this point, knocking off No. 6 Oklahoma, 38-33.
The Jayhawks outlasted Oklahoma in a contest that came down to the final play as a throw from Dillon Gabriel with no time remaining fell to the ground and ended Kansas’ 18-game losing streak to the Sooners.
Kansas improves to 6-2 on the year and 3-2 in Big 12 play with the win and will head to Ames, Iowa next week for a monumental matchup with the Iowa State Cyclones (4-3, 3-1).
Meanwhile, Oklahoma falls to 4-1 in Big 12 play and 7-1 overall with the loss and will now head into a matchup against Oklahoma State (5-2, 3-1) coming off a brutal loss.
Here are three thoughts on the game and what it means for both teams going forward.
A Messy, Glorious Football Game
The temperature was a brisk 38 degrees, and the sun was shining at kickoff, but near the end of the first quarter the clouds, and subsequently, the rain moved in. A rain delay midway through the second quarter sent both teams into the locker room with a 14-7 lead. After about an hour’s delay, action resumed and it was the epitome of a sloppy football game. There were six turnovers in the game, three by each team including a pick-six from Mello Dotson off Dillon Gabriel in the first quarter for the first score of the game. There were no passing touchdowns in the contest and a total of five failed two-point conversions by both teams. Perhaps the difference in the game was the penalty totals, with Oklahoma’s 11 penalties for 101 yards greatly outweighing Kansas’ five penalties for 55 yards. When games get ugly like this one, the edge goes to the home team and in this one it did. This will go down as one of the biggest wins in Kansas’ football history, as it not only ended their losing streak to the Sooners but also got them bowl-eligible for the second season in a row.
Conservative Offense and Mistakes Doom OU
The mistakes came early and often for Oklahoma in this game, and it was a consistent issue throughout the game. The Sooners came out from the rain delay and ground out two scoring drives on the ground. However, they inexplicably moved away from the running game and Kansas took advantage of it. Out of halftime, the Sooners went punt, punt, and fumble in their first three drives, while Kansas scored 17 points in its first four drives of the second half. Between the penalties, the busted plays, the turnovers, and some very conservative play-calling from offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby in the second half was ultimately too much for the Sooners to overcome. Perhaps the biggest question that Oklahoma will have to face this week is what happened late in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma forced an interception with 2:46 left in the game and a 33-32 lead, but on the ensuing drive, managed -2 yards and took just 24 seconds off the clock. To make matters worse, the play calls on that drive were three consecutive runs, including a designed draw play. It was a rough close to the game for the Sooners and one that will have questions rolling in from all over Sooner Nation this week.
The Big 12 Race is Officially Wide Open
Oklahoma’s loss drops them into the group of one-loss Big 12 teams, and now the two-loss teams are starting to look more and more likely to have a real shot at getting to Arlington. As crazy as it might seem, the conference race might be even more wide open than it was a season ago. Just two weeks ago, it looked like Oklahoma and Texas were destined to meet up again in Arlington to decide the Big 12 Champion, but now there are legitimate reasons to believe that neither one of them might be there. Kansas State looks to be the best team in the conference right now after their 41-0 win over Houston, and Texas’ loss of Quinn Ewers is going to make their game against the Wildcats next week very tough. Additionally, Oklahoma’s loss now shows a trend that the team that looked like one of the best in the country to begin the year is starting to unravel after two bad games. While OU and Texas are certainly still in it, teams like Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Kansas, and even West Virginia have to be feeling good about their chances to make a run.