Shortly after his team’s win over Nebraska last week, Oklahoma coach Brent Venables had plenty to do on the phone.
“Great job getting #3,” said a text message from legendary former Kansas State coach Bill Snyder. “Now go get number 4.”
An hour later, Venables’ phone rang again.
“Except for this week,” Snyder said.
Venables and the No. 6 Sooners (3-0) open Big 12 play Saturday against visiting Kansas State (2-1) in Norman, Okla., trying to wrap up the No. 4 win.
Venables was a quarterback and standout for the Wildcats at Kansas State in the early 1990s, then began his coaching career there before joining Bob Stoops’ Oklahoma team after the 1998 season.
Venables has coached against his alma mater several times, but Saturday’s game will be his first against Kansas State as a head coach. He said he would treat it like any other game.
The Sooners entered the game undefeated, outscoring opponents a combined 127-30 in non-conference games.
The Wildcats lost 17-10 at home against Tulane.
“It’s time not to panic,” Kansas State coach Chris Kleeman said. “But we know we need to improve.”
The Wildcats offense struggled against the Green Wave, totaling 336 yards.
Kansas State has played well against the Sooners in recent years, winning two of the last three meetings. Oklahoma won last year’s meeting 37-31.
Wildcats defenseman Adrian Martinez also found success against the Sooners.
Martinez was Nebraska’s quarterback last season in a 23-16 loss to Oklahoma, throwing for 289 yards and a touchdown with one interception and a 34-yard run for a score.
Venables said he showed his team video tapes of Martinez’s game against the Sooners.
“Now that’s a dude,” said Venables, the defensive coordinator at Clemson last season. “One of the best players in the Big Ten and, systematically, fits their system. He’s a little different from the quarterback they had a year ago.”
Both teams are ranked in the top 15 nationally in rushing yards, with Kansas State’s Deuce Vaughn rushing for 352 yards and three touchdowns through the first three games.
Vaughn rushed for 51 yards on 15 carries and added 10 catches for 104 yards and a touchdown against the Sooners last season.
“You can make him dead and he’ll play,” Venables said.
Vaughn had eight catches last week against Tulane, but averaged less than four yards per reception.
Eric Gray had 286 yards and two touchdowns for Oklahoma, while Marcus Major had four touchdowns on the ground.
Kansas State had seven interceptions – all interceptions.
The Sooners have turned the ball over just once and have yet to throw an interception.
“He’s got to continue that trend,” Oklahoma offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby said of quarterback Dylan Gabriel. “It’s all about the ball. That’s where it’s going to start and end. We’ve got to take care of it. They’ve done a great job creating turnovers. … Dylan has to continue to take care of the rock.”