Oklahoma running back Brennan Clay knew he was going to get the ball a lot Saturday. Fellow running back Damien Williams didn’t make the trip due to a suspension. The temperature was below freezing and there was a brisk wind out of the north.
All the factors helped OU’s 41-31 victory over Kansas State turn into a career day for Clay. He rushed for a career-high 200 yards on a career-high 31 carries.
“The fact I was going to be able to touch the ball a little more and get into more of a rhythm. Someone had to pick up that slack,” Clay said. With Damien being out, him and I feed off each other. That’s the rhythm that we have. But we missed him this week. The O-line did a great job. I wasn’t getting touched for four or five yards. That helped out tremendously.”
With two games left in the season, Clay will get even more touches after OU coach Bob Stoops announced Monday that Williams had been dismissed from the team.
On the record: Stoops has downplayed the significance of become the program’s all-time winningest coach all season. He wasn’t very reflective after picking up career win 158 to pass Barry Switzer Saturday afternoon.
“I don’t look at anything at all individually,” he said. “I’m supported by a great administration that’s been here for all 15 years. I’ve had great coaches, assistant coaches that’ve had a hand in it and great young men to work with every day. Students and coaches, managers, trainers. We’ve had a good group here for a good period of time, but I don’t have time to look at it to be honest with you. It’s something down the road where I’ll reflect back.”
Achieve what was emphasized: It isn’t a great defensive performance when you allow three touchdown passes of more than 30 yards. But OU’s top defensive priority coming into Saturday’s game was stopping the run.
The Wildcats rushed for 24 yards — the least OU has given up on the ground since a 2009 meeting with Baylor.
“Our plan was to control the line of scrimmage and be great against the run game. Our plan wasn’t to give up big passes, but that kinda kept them going,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “I feel to beat these guys you have to be great against the run game, and we were.”
Matching kick: OU kicker Michael Hunnicutt converted both of his attempts (30 and 37 yards) Saturday. The second field goal, which Hunnicutt banked in off the left upright, tied OU’s single-season record for field goals. Tim Duncan set the mark with 21 in 2001 and Hunnicutt tied it in 2011.
Need a break: The Sooners were depleted Saturday. In addition to Williams, a suspension also kept receiver Lacoltan Bester back in Norman. Offensive lineman Adam Shead didn’t make the trip due to a back injury, neither did defensive tackle Torrea Peterson (leg injury), running back Keith Ford (ankle) and linebacker Jordan Evans (ankle).
Offensive lineman Tyrus Thompson went down with an ankle injury in the third quarter and cornerback Aaron Colvin was limited with a shoulder injury.
“It’s been difficult. We’re down a lot of guys, but it doesn’t matter. We have to go play,” Stoops said.
OU is lucky in that it doesn’t play again until the Bedlam game Dec. 7 at Oklahoma State.
Wind factor: OU’s players said the cold weather (it was 25 degrees at kickoff) had a major impact on the game. But the wind clearly affected Kansas State’s offense. It scored 24 of its 31 points with the wind at its back. The touchdown it scored into the brisk north wind came with 6:10 left to go and after the Sooners had built a three-possession lead.
“I always feel the wind makes more of a difference than anything. The wind with the cold was a bit challenging,” Stoops said.
OU scored 21 of its 41 points with the wind.