LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Caleb Williams threw two touchdown passes, ran 40-yards for a score on a pivotal fourth down and No. 3 Oklahoma rallied to beat Kansas 35-23 and avoid an enormous upset Saturday.
The Sooners (8-0, 5-0 Big 12) trailed by double figures on two occasions — including 10-0 at the half —- but outscored the Jayhawks 35-13 in the second half to win their 16th straight game.
“I’m excited for the win, but we played poor football in the first half,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said. “We couldn’t get Kansas off the field and missed several opportunities. I give our team credit for rising up. Kansas deserves a lot of credit, and they did a few things that gave us trouble.”
Jason Bean passed for 246 yards and a score for Kansas (1-6, 0-4), which led 17-7 late in the third quarter.
A 66-yard run by Trevon West sparked the Oklahoma offense after that. and scored two plays later for their first lead, 21-17, early in the fourth quarter.
Kansas was able to stay in the game because of the legs of Devin Neal who ran for 100 and a pair of touchdowns. Kansas didn’t punt for the first time until the fourth quarter and held Oklahoma scoreless in the first half.
“I’m proud of our guys and the way the first half especially went,” Kansas coach Lance Leipold said. “When you design things and want it to go a certain way, we did a great job of managing the clock. We were able to mix some things together and keep their explosive offense off the field.”
In his second start, Williams threw for 178 yards, ran for 70 and converted two key fourth downs, one with the long TD run midway through the fourth quarter to make it 28-17 and another when he pulled the ball away from teammate Kennedy Brooks, who appeared stopped behind the line.
“I saw Caleb so I gave it to him,” Brooks said. “I knew it would be close if I was behind the line of scrimmage and I was happy Caleb ran for a first down.”
Williams ran for 5 yards to keep alive what turned out to be the sealing touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter.
“That was just a really smart play by both of those guys,” Riley said. “We talk about situations like that, but I can’t take credit because that’s all Caleb and Kennedy.”
Brooks ran for two scores.
“We can finish with the best of them, but we don’t play our best early in the game so we need to keep battling that,” Riley said. “It’s time for us to start closing the gaps and playing more consistently.”
STREAK GOES ON
Oklahoma has scored 30 or more points in 35 consecutive road games, the longest such streak since at least 1980.
Oklahoma: The Sooners were probably fortunate to be playing Kansas because this was their worst game of the season.
Kansas: The most encouraging game of the season for first-year coach Lane Leipold. The Jayhawks had several long touchdown drives that shortened the game and limited OU’s opportunities. Kansas had the ball for more than 35 minutes.
On the first drive of the game, the power went out on the entire campus turning off both scoreboards. The game continued and the power turned back on about 20 minutes later.
Oklahoma hosts Texas Tech next week.
Kansas travels to Oklahoma State.
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