- Associated Press - Saturday, October 29, 2016

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) - Desperate for a strong performance from its defense, Oklahoma found the perfect opponent in Kansas’ feeble offense.

No. 16 Oklahoma’s offense did its usual thing - rolling up 538 yards - in a 56-3 rout of Kansas. Baker Mayfield threw for 236 yards and four touchdowns and receiver Dede Westbrook scored on a 71-yard punt return and a 41-yard reception for Oklahoma (6-2, 5-0).

But the Sooners’ defense - much maligned after allowing 854 yards a week earlier in a 66-59 win over Texas Tech - also did its part this time, limiting Kansas (1-7, 0-5) to 170 yards, the fewest by an Oklahoma opponent this season.

“It’s positive to play well,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. “It’s one week. Next week will be another journey. In our world, you live week to week. Right now, the guys responded and really played well in all parts.”

It was a defensive outing featuring two particularly memorable plays. After Kansas - then trailing 7-3 - recovered a fumble at the Oklahoma 25, cornerback Jordan Thomas ended the threat with an interception at the 2-yard line, getting both feet just inbounds, then tossing the football away forcefully, as if to make a point.

In the third quarter, Jordan Evans also picked off a pass by Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart and weaved his way for a 33-yard return for a touchdown, which meant the Sooners’ defense outscored Kansas’ offense.

Sure, it came against Kansas, a team that now has lost 17 straight Big 12 games and 39 straight road games overall. But after the Texas Tech debacle, it was what the Sooners’ defenders needed.

“We’ve been through a lot this past week,” Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “The guys played with a lot more energy and focus. Obviously, we got embarrassed a week ago. . The guys practiced well and prepared well and went out and executed. It’s not that difficult.”

Kansas coach David Beaty noted the Sooners shut down the Jayhawks despite the absence of key players such as linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, who sat out with an injury.

“I have to take my hat off to them because I know they’ve got a bunch of guys injured on their defense and they played a pretty good game,” Beaty said.

Mayfield, who threw a school-record seven touchdown passes against Texas Tech, threw three in the second quarter against the Jayhawks - the 41-yarder to Westbrook, a 15-yarder to Mark Andrews and a 9-yarders to Dimitri Flowers, the latter with 20 seconds left before halftime to put Oklahoma up 28-3. Mayfield finished 16-of-24 passing.

Mayfield’s 15 touchdown passes in the Sooners’ last three games are a program record.

THE TAKEAWAY

Kansas: The Jayhawks will win another Big 12 game and win on the road again someday, but that W probably won’t come against the likes of Oklahoma or West Virginia, Kansas’ next opponent. But a home game against Iowa State looms on Nov. 12. Maybe that first streak ends then?

Oklahoma: The Sooners said after starting the season 1-2, with losses to Houston and Ohio State, that they still had the Big 12 title as motivation. Now Oklahoma is atop the league, but the Sooners must finish the season with the gauntlet of Baylor, West Virginia and Oklahoma State.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

No. 10 West Virginia’s loss at Oklahoma State and No. 13 Boise State’s loss at Wyoming should open up at least two spots for Oklahoma to move up in the Top 25 .

WILD WESTBROOK

Westbrook finished with 230 all-purpose yards. His punt return for a touchdown was the first by an Oklahoma player since Jalen Saunders vs. Oklahoma State on Dec. 7, 2013. After Kansas’ first-quarter field goal, Westbrook returned the ensuing kickoff out of the end zone for what looked like another touchdown, but a holding penalty wiped it out.

Early in the second quarter, he made a diving catch on the 41-yard touchdown pass from Mayfield, one of his five receptions for 105 yards. Later in the quarter, on a receiver option on a third-and-16 play, he eschewed passing the ball and instead ran 24 yards for a first down.

In five October games, he had 881 receiving yards and scored 12 touchdowns. Nine of those scoring plays (including the punt return) went for 40 or more yards. He has 1,035 receiving yards through eight games, making him only the sixth Oklahoma player to go over the 1,000-yard mark for a season.

“He is as good as advertised. He’s even better when you’re looking at him down there on the sideline,” Beaty said “I mean, he’s a really talented guy.”

UP NEXT:

Kansas: The Jayhawks will travel next Saturday to face an angry West Virginia team coming off its first loss of the season.

Oklahoma: It will be a short week for the Sooners, who will visit Iowa State on Thursday.

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