No. 6 Oklahoma suffered its first loss of the Brent Venables era, 41-34, at home in his alma mater, Kansas. After suffering their third loss to the Wildcats in four seasons, the Sooners are leading 0-1 in the Big 12 for the third time since 2012.
The Sooners won their first three games of the season 127–30, but the Wildcats broke the 30-point mark midway through the fourth quarter thanks to a monster performance from quarterback Adrian Martinez. The Nebraska transfer threw for 234 yards, rushed for 148 more, and scored all five Wildcats touchdowns, a career best against the inconsistent Sooners defense.
Martinez’s biggest game came late in the fourth quarter when he faced third and 16th. After Oklahoma received pressure, Martinez stepped up and ran 55 yards deep into the red zone. He later scored several plays to give the Wildcats a two-touchdown lead.
The Oklahoma defense would take the brunt of the blame, allowing 509 yards and 6.1 yards per game, but the offense had its own consistency issues. Quarterback Dillon Gabriel threw for 56 and 50 touchdowns in the first half, but 11 of his other 24 completions came in five yards or less. Oklahoma’s offense only reached the red zone three times and recorded two touchdowns, although one came with 35 seconds left.
Oklahoma lost Game 1 of the Big 12 for the first time since the 2020 season shortened due to COVID-19, when it had just one non-conference game. Naturally, this loss fell on the state of Kansas. The last time Oklahoma lost to a Big 12 rookie in a regular year was 2012. Losing? state of Kansas. Oklahoma has only lost nine home games since 2012, but four of them have been in Kansas State.
The Wildcats’ performance took a turn for the worse after a 17–10 loss to Tulane a week ago. All of a sudden they are sitting 3-1 and tied for first place in the Big 12 1-0.
Redemption for Martinez
Martinez was one of the most maligned quarterbacks in the country during his Nebraska career, especially as the Cornhuskers continued to lose incredibly close games. With that in the rearview mirror, a close victory over Oklahoma should seem even sweeter.
When Martinez moved to Kansas State, the hope was that offensive coordinator Collin Klein could manage his skill set and put him in good situations. After wrestling with Tulane, Martinez hit countless shots on the run and found gaps to extend his shots.
Simply put, in an attacking system, Climane Martinez can play winning football. There is no more verification.
Much has been said about Oklahoma’s improved defense system since the Nebraska game, with recent players even lamenting that they didn’t get to play for the group. However, after the first real test, Sooners’ defense collapsed.
Kansas State has collected seven discs of at least seven plays, including four discs of 10 or more plays. What’s more, the Sooners allowed 10 third or fourth down conversions to expand the rims. The first hit against superior offensive lines allowed the Oklahoma defensive line to gain stats, but it didn’t hold up against the Big 12 opponent. The Sooners didn’t have a single sack against Kansas State.
Consequences of the Big 12
The Sooners and Wildcats were preseason contenders for the Big 12 championship game. After Kansas State hit the road and won, suddenly an all-important tie-break kicks in as conference play begins.
Oklahoma did not feature in the 2021 Big 12 Championship Game due to a tiebreak loss against Baylor when both teams finished 7–2. Since the game returned in 2017, each season, a new contestant has appeared in the Big 12 championship game. The state of Kansas has every chance of becoming the newest name.