Guerin Emig: The Sooners will need to be as right-minded to play the Jayhawks as vice versa. Because while the Jayhawks haven’t reached the level of excellence the Sooners have shown over their 6-0 start, they are getting better and better and better.
STILLWATER – Kansas’ sour loss to Oklahoma State wasn’t 15 minutes old and here I was asking Lance Leipold about a game his Jayhawks wouldn’t play for two weeks.
I was hoping he wouldn’t bite my head off for asking about OU at Kansas Oct. 28, especially since he’d just used the word “baffling” to describe some of the officiating down the stretch of their 39-32 setback in Stillwater.
It was worth the risk, OU having caught national fire since beating Texas and Kansas having become one of the toughest outs in the Big 12 Conference (just ask the Sooners, 35-23 and 52-42 survivors of the Jayhawks the past two years).
So here it went: Coach, would it be easier if you played next Saturday after a loss like this, as opposed to having to wait through your bye week?
“That’s a legit question,” Leipold began. “Haven’t given it any thought. This is too fresh in my mind. Yeah part of you wants to turn the page as quick as you can.
“But I’ve always said this to our team — go back to year one when we were 2-10. Our approach needs to be consistent, expectations need to be consistent. That’s gotta be the theme for next week no matter what that is, and getting ourselves in the right mind physically and mentally to take on an excellent football team in two weeks.”
OU hosts UCF next Saturday before traveling to Lawrence Oct. 28. I don’t know what Brent Venables will say about Kansas following the UCF game, but he would be advised to follow Leipold’s lead.
The Sooners will need to be as right-minded to play the Jayhawks as vice versa. Because while the Jayhawks haven’t reached the level of excellence the Sooners have shown over their 6-0 start, they are getting better and better and better.
They are a handful offensively even with Jason Bean subbing for the dynamic Jalon Daniels at quarterback.
(Leipold on the injured Daniels’ eventual return post-OSU: “I’ve got great hope. It’s kind of like last year’s deal. He wasn’t out for the season. No one’s told me he’s out for the season this year. You can see him moving a lot better than he has been.”)
Bean threw for 342 yards and 5 touchdowns at OSU until the Cowboys disrupted him over his final four drives. He threw for 265 yards and 4 touchdowns in Norman last year, 219 yards and all 4 scores going to the combination of wide receiver Lawrence Arnold and tight end Mason Fairchild.
Arnold caught 5 passes Saturday. Fairchild burned OSU for 44- and 30-yard scores. Claremore product Quentin Skinner burned OSU for 49- and 42-yard scores.
Think Skinner won’t be fired up for the Sooners? His dad is Reggie Skinner, an OU running back from 1997-99.
“It’s something he wants to prove when he comes here, something he wants to prove when he plays OU,” Cathy Smith, Quentin Skinner’s grandmother, told me in the KU section of Boone Pickens Stadium pregame. “This is his state. He loves his state. Look at the 918 that’s on his social media. He has a tattoo of 918.”
Think all of the Jayhawks won’t be fired up for the Sooners? OU got away with one in Lawrence two years ago only because of Caleb Williams’ late improvisation.
“That was a tough one to lose,” Fairchild acknowledged Saturday. “A couple years losing tough ones.”
“I think it’s everything,” Bean said. “Not just because of who we’re playing. It’s important because it’s the next game we have. I think in two weeks we’ll definitely be ready to play.”
Not that the Sooners won’t be.
We’ll see what happens at OU-UCF first, but it feels like Brent Venables is pressing motivational buttons right now that Lincoln Riley never could (see: the Sooners’ sleepwalking at KU two years ago).
I wouldn’t pick against the Sooners against anyone in the Big 12 after what they did against Texas. I don’t plan on picking against them Oct. 28, assuming Dillon Gabriel gets to throw against KU’s still-lagging defense.
That needs work, and yet Leipold has made up a ton of ground in two-plus years. His offense is diverse and precise. The vibe around his program hasn’t been this positive since Mark Mangino had it winning the 2008 Orange Bowl.
It wasn’t long ago a respectable score against OSU was progress. The Cowboys beat KU pretty much to a pulp from 2010 straight through 2021.
They were lucky to win however they could Saturday.
If you counter by saying KU will step up in class against the Sooners in two weeks, hasn’t KU stepped up in class since Leipold took over for Les Miles?
That felt obvious even in Saturday’s bitter defeat.
“I’m still proud of them,” Leipold said. “We’ve got a lot of ball to play.”
With a big one, for both teams, next on their schedule.