Kansas Hosts No. 14/13 Oklahoma for Homecoming/K Club Weekend

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas football team returns to the friendly confines of Memorial Stadium as the Jayhawks play host to No. 14/13 Oklahoma, Saturday, Oct. 31, as part of Homecoming and K Club weekend.

Kansas (0-7, 0-4 Big 12) looks for its first win of head coach David Beaty’s career and the 2015 season as the Sooners (6-1, 3-1 Big 12) enter with the No. 2-ranked defense in the Big 12 Conference.

Since 1903, Kansas and Oklahoma have played 105 games against one another. The Sooners lead the all-time series 72-27-6. OU has won the last 10 contests dating back to 2000, and owns a 33-14-3 advantage in games played in Lawrence. In the last 10 meetings, the Sooners have outscored the Jayhawks 389-133, averaging 38.9 points per game to KU’s 13.3. The last time Kansas beat Oklahoma came in 1997, a 20-17 victory in Lawrence. The two teams have met two other times on Halloween with both matchups taking place in Lawrence. In 1914, both squads played to a 16-16 tie, while in 1987, the Sooners pulled away with a 71-10 victory. Saturday’s contest marks the 106th meeting, the second-most games KU has played against a Big 12 Conference opponent (Kansas State, 112).

Oklahoma averages 43.3 points per game behind 3,550 yards of total offense (1,358 rushing and 2,192 passing). The Sooners have gained 187 first downs (73 rushing, 97 passing and 17 penalty) while scoring 39 touchdowns. When in the red zone, Oklahoma scores 90 percent of the time (35-of-39) with 27 of those scores being for six points. Quarterback Baker Mayfield completes 67.5 percent of his passes (143-of-212) and has thrown for 2,087 yards and 21 touchdowns. Mayfield ranks fifth in the conference in passing yards, fifth in passing yards per game (298.1) and third in passing yards per completion (14.6). Three different receivers have caught 20 or more passes including Durron Neal (25), Dede Westbrook (29) and Sterling Shepard (32). Shepard leads the group with 549 yards receiving, averaging 78.4 yards per game and 17.2 yards per catch. Shepard has also caught a team-high five touchdowns among its wide outs. On the ground, the Sooners average 194.0 yards per game behind running back Samaje Perine, who leads the team with 621 yards rushing. Perine has reached the end zone seven times and averages 88.7 yards per game and 5.4 yards per carry. When it comes to scoring, OU does most of its damage in the second and third quarters, chalking up 86 points in each. 

Oklahoma enters Saturday’s contest with the No. 2-rated defense in the Big 12 Conference as it allows 20.0 points per game. The Sooners have given up the third-fewest first downs in the league at 142. Opponents have averaged 338.0 (171.4 rushing and 166.6 passing) yards of total offense per game, which ranks second in the conference behind Oklahoma State (316.3). Teams have completed 67.7 percent of their passes for 1,166 yards and nine touchdowns. When opponents reach the red zone, they have scored 79 percent of the time (19-of-24), including 12 touchdowns. As a team, OU has forced 14 turnovers, including three fumble recoveries and 11 interceptions. Linebacker Dominique Alexander leads the team with 58 tackles and ranks fourth in the league in that category. Fellow linebacker Eric Striker ranks third in the Big 12 with 6.0 sacks and 10.5 TFLs, respectively, while Jordan Thoms and Zack Sanchez have each picked off three passes.

The winningest coach in Oklahoma history, Bob Stoops and the Sooners have become synonymous with success as he has firmly etched his indelible stamp upon college football. Quantifying the lasting impact that Stoops has made on Oklahoma is the easy part. No head coach in the Sooners’ illustrious history has produced more victories than Stoops. Stoops has led the Sooners to a school-record 16 consecutive bowl berths and eight Big 12 titles. He has guided the program to eight or more victories each of the past 15 seasons, the longest active streak of any FBS head coach. Even though he didn’t arrive in Norman until the Big 12 was three years old, the Youngstown, Ohio, native has already coached the program to more than twice as many championships (eight) as any other school in the league. No team from a Power Five conference owns more victories than Oklahoma since Stoops took over the Sooners’ fortunes, while only Ohio State can boast a better winning percentange since 1999. Under the direction of this 31-year coaching veteran, only three schools can boast longer active streaks of consecutive bowl berths. And no coach in the game’s history has accumulated more victories over his first 16 seasons than Stoops. During the BCS era, Stoops was the only coach to win a national championship and every BCS bowl game. During his run, Stoops has picked up 17 coach-of-the-year honors, including eight on the national level.

The Jayhawks are one of the youngest teams in the country as they rank first in first-time players (37) and second in first-time starters (30). Among the first-time starters, eight have been true freshmen or redshirt freshmen, and on offense, the Jayhawks have started four freshmen in two of their last three games.

Junior kicker/punter Matthew Wyman found himself in a different role the last two weeks as he took over the punting duties for the Jayhawks. Prior to assuming the role, Kansas averaged 33.7 yards per punt on 31 attempts. Wyman has punted 11 times and averages 43 yards per punt. He also holds the two longest punts on the season at 52 and 56 yards, respectively.

Junior safety Fish Smithson continues to let his presence be known on defense after tallying his fourth double-digit tackling effort of the season at Oklahoma State (Oct. 24) with 10 stops. Through seven games, Smithson averages a league-best 7.0 solo tackles per game, which ranks fifth in the nation. On the season, Smithson has tallied a season-high 65 tackles (49 solo and 16 assisted) and ranks second in the conference at 9.3 stops per game. In addition to his tackling effort, Smithson has broken up three passes, picked off another, forced a fumble and returned a fumble 66 yards. No other player on the KU defense can boast those stats.

It’s no secret that head coach David Beaty’s philosophy is #EarnIt, stating that “Competition breeds success and we want competition at every position.” That sentiment has held true as the Jayhawks have sent out a different starting lineup to the field in each of their seven games this season.  In total, Kansas has started 18 different players on defense and 25 different players on offense; 30 which have started a game for Kansas for the first time this season.

Kansas hits the road to begin its final road swing of the 2015 campaign when the Jayhawks trek to Austin, Texas, for an evening matchup with the Longhorns, Saturday, Nov. 7. Kickoff against UT is slated for 7 p.m., and can be seen on both the Longhorn and Jayhawk Television Networks.

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