If there were ever two teams trending in different directions, it's the Oklahoma Sooners and Kansas Jayhawks. The two Big 12 rivals are set to square off this weekend in a pivotal home game for Bob Stoops and his BCS Top 10 team.
After falling at home to No. 15 Kansas State in Week 4, Oklahoma has rebounded nicely the past two weeks, going on the road and dismantling Texas Tech before blowing out Red River Rival Texas at the Cotton Bowl.
Kansas, losers of five straight since its season-opener, will go on the road to Norman, Okla., as a heavy underdog on Saturday. Facing a possible sixth straight loss and a potential QB controversy brewing, things aren't looking good for coach Charlie Weis and the Jayhawks.
Oklahoma leads the all-time series 69-27-6, but a team in the Top 10 of the BCS rankings can't afford to take any matchup lightly.
Here's all the info for this Week 9 matchup between the Sooners and Jayhawks.
When: Saturday, October 20 at 7:00 p.m. ET
Where: Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Norman, OK
Watch: Check Local Listings
Spread: Oklahoma -35 (Bovada)
No surprises here. Winless in Big 12 play and a loss to Rice on its ledger, it would be the upset of the season for Kansas to go on the road and knock off Oklahoma.
The Sooners have a habit of sometimes taking teams too lightly in games they should probably cover a spread like this, but they were successful in covering against Florida A&M in a similar scenario earlier this season.
This is a game I'd likely stay away from in the betting industry. Thirty-five points is a huge spread in conference play, even if Kansas is a lowly 1-5.
After the offense was clicking on every level at the Cotton Bowl last week, it's hard to see OU slowing down. However, Kansas was in position to win against Oklahoma State in Week 8, and teams with nothing to lose often explode the betting line in a game like this.
Over/Under: 57.5 (Vegas Insider)
In one of the highest-scoring week-to-week leagues in college football, it would be no surprise to see Oklahoma top 50 points against Kansas this weekend.
They put up 63 in the Red River Rivalry, tying for the second-most points in the history of the game (coincidentally both in the Stoops era).
There's no reason to think that Kansas' defense is ready for the up-tempo, high-powered Sooner offense. By the same token, OU has had some major lapses on defense, including garbage time against Texas at the Cotton Bowl.
This should be an easy over designation this week.
Kansas Injury Report (via USA Today)
WR Daymond Patterson, Concussion, Questionable
OL Riley Spencer, Knee, Out for Season (surgery following last weekend's game with OK St.)
Oklahoma Injury Report (via USA Today)
No new injuries of note; on 10/12/12 Stoops confirmed that WR Jaz Reynolds and DB Trey Franks would remained sidelined for the rest of the season after violating team rules this past offseason.
It's hard to imagine this matchup with Kansas as a potential boost towards a BCS game for Oklahoma, but with the nature of college football, it could be a pivotal win in the right circumstances.
Oklahoma has clawed its way back into the "Outside Shot" pool of the national championship picture. They do not control their own destiny and would need some key Top Five teams to go down to have a chance, but blowing out Kansas at home would certainly be nice to have in their back pocket.
With No. 5 Notre Dame coming to town the following week, the Sooners need to have some confidence building from this game if they want to avoid losing at home twice this year to ranked teams. Any kind of slip-up against Kansas would potentially derail that confidence heading into their faceoff with the Irish.
Kansas looks to play the role of spoiler, building off its loss to Oklahoma State by trying to continue playing consistent, turnover-free football. Michael Cummings supplanted senior Dayne Crist last week, and proceeded to lead both touchdown drives for the Jayhawks.
Do they have any magic on the road in Norman? That will be the question, as they haven't won on the road since 1996.
Keys for Kansas Victory
When any team effectively stops Oklahoma, it does so by making QB Landry Jones uncomfortable in the pocket. Kansas State did that, Texas Tech did it in the first half and you can bet Texas had it on its game plan heading into the Cotton Bowl last week.
But Jones has rebounded from his rough outing against Kansas State by leading his team to two important wins over Big 12 foes, all the while pushing his career record in starts against Texas to 3-0, a feat matched by very few in Crimson and Cream.
Turnovers will likely be the story if Kansas has any realistic shot to win in the fourth quarter on the road. So will QB play, and Charlie Weis can't afford to wait any longer to make a signal-caller change if Cummings gives him a better chance to win.
All signs point to Kansas needing a perfect game to pull off this upset.
Keys for Oklahoma Victory
After their 63-point outburst last Saturday, OU needs to keep the pedal to the medal. They had more first downs against Texas (30) than the Longhorns had rushing plays (23).
When the Sooners are at their best, they know how to get up to the line and snap the ball before the defense is ready.
Change-of-pace QB Blake Bell has also been a red-zone nightmare for opponents, and no one seems to have an answer for his Wildcat package in short-yardage situations.
For Oklahoma, its game plan should be simple: Do what you do.
Anything short is a disappointment following the most complete game so far this season on both sides of the ball. They did it, no less, against their biggest rival at a neutral site, so a home atmosphere against the basement of the Big 12 shouldn't pose any real threats.
It's hard to see Oklahoma in any real danger this weekend. Kansas took steps in the right direction by inserting Cummings into the lineup against Oklahoma State, but that momentum is likely killed by Weis sticking with Crist, the fifth-year senior who came to Kansas to play for his former Notre Dame coach.
OU scores early and often, and aside from a few mental lapses (which won't cost OU this weekend), this game is in hand by the middle of the third quarter.
Predicted Score: Oklahoma 52, Kansas 17