NORMAN, Okla. >> Oklahoma entered the season boldly talking about competing in the first-ever playoff. Now, the Sooners know their chances of getting there are dim.
Oklahoma’s special teams fell apart in a 31-30 loss to Kansas State on Saturday afternoon.
“We have to be a tough team and bounce back,” linebacker Geneo Grissom said. “We’re not going to be able to have the season that we planned on. You can’t hang your head down on that. We have to go out and finish the season strong. You never know what’s going to happen.”
Oklahoma, trailing by a point in the fourth quarter, had finally had seized momentum after playing catch-up for much of the game. The 11th-ranked Sooners drove to the Kansas State 1-yard line, but couldn’t punch the ball in. Michael Hunnicutt, normally automatic, missed a 19-yard field goal that would have put the Sooners ahead with 3:53 remaining. Kansas State (5-1, 3-0 Big 12) took possession and ran out the clock.
Hunnicutt missed two short field goals and had an extra point blocked.
Oklahoma’s Sterling Shepard tied a school record with 15 catches and had 197 yards receiving and Trevor Knight passed for 318 yards and three touchdowns for Oklahoma (5-2, 2-2), but the mistakes were too much to overcome.
“It’s not fun when you lose,” tight end Blake Bell said. “Not taking anything away from K-State — great football team — but when you have opportunities down in the red zone there to score, punch one in and just all over the field … You can’t really blame it on one guy. All 11, we’ve got to take responsibility. It hurts.”
Jake Waters passed for 225 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 51 yards and a score for the 14th-ranked Wildcats.
Knight headed to the locker room with 8:44 left in the first quarter after taking a hit to the back. Backup quarterback Cody Thomas stepped in for the rest of the drive and led the Sooners to a touchdown. Samaje Perine’s 2-yard scoring run gave the Sooners a 7-0 lead.
Kansas State answered quickly when Glenn Gronkowski caught a 62-yard touchdown pass from Waters.
Knight returned to the game. He threw out of his end zone, and Kansas State’s Danzel McDaniel stepped in front of Durron Neal and returned the interception 5 yards for a touchdown to put Kansas State ahead a minute into the second quarter.
Knight came right back and found Bell over the middle for 22 yards, then found Shepard deep for a 47-yard touchdown that tied the score at 14.
Waters connected with Tyler Lockett in the back of the end zone for a 9-yard score that gave Kansas State a 21-14 lead.
Hunnicutt made a 38-yard field goal to cut Kansas State’s lead to 21-17. He could have cut the Wildcats’ lead again, a 32-yard field goal attempt went wide left as time expired in the first half.
A 28-yard catch by Shepard helped set up Bell’s 4-yard touchdown catch that tied the score at 24.
Waters’ 3-yard touchdown run gave Kansas State a 31-24 lead.
Oklahoma reached the Kansas State 17, but Neal, a receiver, threw an interception to Morgan Burns late in the third quarter to end the threat.
Neal made up for it with his first career touchdown catch, a 9-yarder that cut Kansas State’s lead to 31-30. Kansas State’s Travis Britz blocked the extra point, and that turned out to be the difference.
Now, the Sooners have a bye week before playing at Iowa State Nov. 1. Oklahoma says it still has plenty to play for.
“It’s not about the end,” Knight said. “It’s about the next one. We’re not gonna get anywhere if we’re focused on the end. Predictions, all that, goes out the door when you start playing ballgames. We’ve got two losses now, so we’re fighting. We understand that, but we’ve got to take it one game at a time still.”