By Michael Kinney
Oklahoma needed a win. More than at any time in the past three decades, they went into Saturday’s matchup needing to get back into the win column.
However, after three consecutive losses by a combined score of 146 to 58 and facing a rejuvenated Kansas squad, their prospects didn’t look.
Despite all of that, the Sooners held on to beat Jayhawks 52-42 at Memorial Stadium.
“It feels great for sure. Just to get a win is great,” said OU wide receiver Marvin Mims. “The past few weeks have been rough. We were a couple of plays away against Kansas State, and the past couple weeks have been tough. But it feels like we’re back, and we’re just having fun again.”
With the return of quarterback Dillon Gabriel, it was Oklahoma’s offense that led the charge. The Sooners racked up 701 yards of offense, which was the program’s most against a Big 12 opponent since 2018.
OU ran 100 offensive plays for the 12th time in school history and the first time since 2014. The school record is 107.
“It was the first time that it’s been done since 2014, so there’s been a lot of really good offensive football teams,” OU coach Brent Venables said. “We’re far from perfect, but we played a little better on defense, so that helped as well.”
Kansas was without its starting quarterback, who was injured in last week’s loss. They also suffered a devastating ankle injury to defensive back Cobee Bryant late in the second quarter that saw him carted off the field.
In his return, Gabriel completed 29 of 42 passes for 403 yards and two touchdowns. He added 37 yards and a TD on the ground.
Gabriel, who had been in concussion protocol, didn’t know until midweek that he would even make the start for the Sooners.
“I had a clue on Wednesday. I felt like we had a chance OU, Texas week but trusted the doctors and trainers,” Gabriel said. “I knew they would get me back as fast as possible but also would protect me at the same time. I trusted them and throughout the week went through concussion tests and met with doctors two to three times a week but thankfully got the full clearance this week and felt really good to get back out there.”
While OU came out on fire offensively, its defense could not say the same. The game was tied at 14-14 in the first quarter.
But the Sooners were able to get enough key stops throughout the game to keep the scrappy Jayhawks from making a late run.
One of those stops came on an interception by C.J. Coldon in which he batted the ball up and caught it with one arm while falling on his back.
“I didn’t think it was that crazy until I saw the video,” Coldon said. “I just jumped up and the ball looked like I could go and get it. I just went up, tipped it and then knew I could try and get it. I reached my hand out and that it was. The play was history. It was just a crazy play overall. It’s about giving effort all the time. Running to the ball and just trying, that’s all I do. I just play hard.”
Oklahoma improved to 80-27-6 all-time against Kansas. That includes extending their current streak to 18 straight.
This win will stand out for many in the Sooner nation because of the new alternate uniforms the team unveiled.
The “Unity” uniform featured anthracite-colored jerseys, pants and helmets, crimson trim and lettering, the word “TOGETHER” sewn on the collar, the word “UNITY” on the back-of-the-jersey nameplate and an outline of the state of Oklahoma amid a triple-stripe on both sleeves.
The Unity Uniform was created to honor former OU great Prentice Gautt, who was the first black scholarship athlete at Oklahoma in the late 1950s.
“Those uniforms were perfect for this week. Every week that we’ve met, I’ve told you all that we just have to stay together,” Brayden Willis said. “That’s what that uniform represented and the history behind it represented us too. I think it was just a perfect week to wear them, and we did a good job staying the course.”
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