Who’d want to celebrate a milestone win by getting soaked on a frigid afternoon?
Clay ran for a career-high 200 yards and two touchdowns to pace the Sooners, andTrevor Knight filled in admirably at quarterback as No. 22 Oklahoma handled the Wildcats 41-31 to give Stoops his 158th victory and break a tie with coach Barry Switzer for the most in school history.
”I don’t look at anything at all individual,” Stoops said. ”I don’t have time to look at (the record). It’s something that, down the road, I’ll look back.”
Stoops insisted that the signature win didn’t feel any different coming against his former mentor, Kansas State coach Bill Snyder. Stoops was one of Snyder’s defensive assistants from 1989-95, and was instrumental in helping to turn around the wayward program.
”Bob’s never been one about whatever honors he’s won or been a part of,” said Mike Stoops, his younger brother and the Sooners’ defensive coordinator. ”I think with our whole team, it’s just not a big deal, even though I know he takes great pride in doing this.”
Freshman Trevor Knight, filling in for the injured Blake Bell, threw for 171 yards and accounted for two TDs for the Sooners (9-2, 6-2 Big 12), who found themselves in a shootout with a Kansas State offense that almost entirely abandoned the run.
Tyler Lockett was the beneficiary of it. The junior had 12 catches for a school-record 278 yards and three touchdowns, and finished with a school-record 440 yards of total offense.
”They challenged us to throw the ball and our receivers stepped up big,” said Jake Waters, who threw for 348 yards and accounted for four TDs. ”Tyler proved he’s one of the best in the nation so that made me look a lot better, too. You’ve got to give a lot of credit to Tyler.”
Waters didn’t look so good when he was picked off by the Sooners’ Zack Sanchez in the fourth quarter. Sanchez returned it 74 yards for a touchdown, putting the game out of reach.
It also ended a four-game winning streak for Kansas State (6-5, 4-4).
”This was a collective loss. Take your pick,” Snyder said. ”Oklahoma played very well. They were the better team and played better and coached better. They did everything better.”
The Sooners struck first when Knight hit Sterling Shepard from 12 yards out on third-and-goal in the first quarter, but that was about the last pass that Oklahoma called in the first half.
At one point, Stoops called for runs on 17 of 18 plays, including all 14 on a 98-yard TD drive. Clay and Knight did most of the work, with Knight fooling defensive end Ryan Mueller on a fake handoff and running untouched the final 8 yards for a 14-0 lead.
While the Sooners were pounding the ball, Kansas State abandoned the run.
Waters and Lockett took advantage of blown coverage to hook up for the first time for a 48-yard scoring strike early in the second quarter. When the Wildcats got the ball back, Waters found his favorite target with a perfectly thrown 30-yard TD pass in the corner of the end zone.
Oklahoma answered on the ground with Clay scooting to his right, sticking his foot in the turf and turning up field, racing past the secondary for a 69-yard touchdown run.
It took all of one play – a 90-yard pitch-and-catch from Waters to Lockett – for the Wildcats to make it 21-all. The TD catch also allowed Lockett to match the school record for a single game.
Michael Hunnicutt’s field goal in the final seconds gave Oklahoma a 24-21 halftime lead.
As entertaining as the first half was for offensive savants, the third quarter turned into a sluggish affair. Both teams muddled their way to field goals on time-consuming drives.
The Sooners finally seized control when they pinned Kansas State at the 3-yard line. The Wildcats went three-and-out, and Mark Krause’s punt into the wind went nowhere. Jalen Saunders caught it on the run and returned it to the 3, where Clay ran it in on the next play.
Oklahoma put the game out of reach moments later, when Sanchez picked off Waters and returned it up the sideline for a touchdown. The Sooners’ sideline erupted as he crossed the goal line to make it 41-24 with just over 11 minutes left in the game.
Waters added a TD run for Kansas State in the closing minutes for the final margin.
”We had our chances and we let it slip,” Waters said. ”That kind of proves that we’re almost there, but we’re not quite there yet. We still have a lot of room to improve.”