Dillon Gabriel helps Oklahoma top No. 19 Kansas, end skid at 3 games

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
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NORMAN, Okla. — Dillon Gabriel looked all healed up.

The Oklahoma quarterback passed for 403 yards and two touchdowns in his first game back after a concussion, and the Sooners defeated No. 19 Kansas 52-42 to end their three-game losing streak.

Gabriel was injured in the second quarter of Oklahoma’s loss to TCU on October 1, and the team’s offense had sputtered in nearly seven quarters without him heading into the Kansas game. But a week after the Sooners were held to 195 yards against Texas, Oklahoma (4-3, 1-3 Big 12) exploded for 701 yards against the Jayhawks.

Gabriel had been in concussion protocol, but he passed tests during the week, clearing the way for him to play.

“I’m grateful for every opportunity I step out there because I know this game is aggressive,” he said.

Gabriel also ran 10 times for 37 yards and a touchdown, often sliding well before Kansas defenders had a chance to hit him.

“It’s football,” he said. “I’m going to get hit. Just being smart. Trying to protect myself, but also not taking any unnecessary hits.”

Kansas had been one of the nation’s darlings so far this season, surprising experts by winning five straight games to start the season and pushing TCU before losing 34-27 the previous week.

But Eric Gray ran for 176 yards, Marvin Mims had a career-high nine catches for 106 yards and Brayden Willis had five catches for a career-best 102 yards for the Sooners, who relieved some of the pressure that had been building for first-year coach Brent Venables.

It was Oklahoma’s 18th straight win over Kansas, with all the victories coming by double digits. The Sooners haven’t lost to the Jayhawks since 1997.

“I love seeing our guys in victory formation there at the end,” Venables said. “It was a good, hard fought win, dragging ourselves off the mat and getting back on the saddle.”

Filling in for the injured Jalon Daniels (shoulder), Jason Bean passed for 265 yards and four touchdowns for Kansas. Daniels was hurt in the loss to TCU.

Lawrence Arnold had 113 yards and two touchdowns receiving and Mason Fairchild had 106 yards and caught two touchdown passes for Kansas. The Jayhawks (5-2, 2-2) lost their second straight and missed out on the chance to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2008.

Gabriel completed 21 of 29 passes for 304 yards in the first half to help the Sooners take a 35-21 lead. The Sooners’ 487 yards in the first half were the second-most gained in a half in school history, trailing the 507 gained in the first half against Missouri in 1986.

“They came out clicking on all cylinders,” Kansas coach Lance Leipold said. “They played very well, very aggressive. I think we were on our heels most of the day. It was like they were playing downhill.”

Gray had 124 yards rushing in the first half, eclipsing his previous high as a Sooner before the break. The Sooners kept the Jayhawks at bay in the second half, controlling the ball for more than 17 minutes.

“Their backs were to the wall a little bit in this situation, and they came out and played extremely well,” Leipold said. “And we didn’t quite match that. And we’ve got to find a way if we want to be that type of team, that we can do that.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Kansas: If not for three Oklahoma turnovers and a goal-line stand by the Jayhawks on the final play of the second quarter, the Sooners would have done even more damage.

Oklahoma: The Sooners showed they could run the ball and chew up the clock if necessary. They ran for 298 yards and had the advantage in time of possession for the first time this season.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Even though Oklahoma has the reputation and was favored, Kansas lost to an unranked team and could drop out of the Top 25.

UNITY UNIFORM

Oklahoma honored running back Prentice Gautt, the first Black scholarship football player at the school, by wearing a “Unity” uniform.

Gautt starred on coach Bud Wilkinson’s teams from 1957 to 1959. He was an All-Big Eight Conference selection twice and was an Academic All-American in 1958.

The uniform, designed by a group of the school’s athletes, featured dark gray jerseys, pants and helmets with crimson trim and lettering. It had 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 on the sleeves.

INJURED JAYHAWK

Kansas cornerback Cobee Bryant left the game after suffering an injury to his left ankle in the closing seconds of the first half.

Bryant left on a cart and received a standing ovation from the crowd. Leipold said it is a “wait-and-see” situation.

UP NEXT

Kansas visits Baylor.

Oklahoma visits Iowa State on Oct. 29.

Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. returning for 2023 season

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
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SEATTLE – Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. said Sunday he will return to the school for his sixth and final season of eligibility in 2023.

Penix announced his decision on social media and it was a surprising one at that. Penix was the national leader in passing this season, throwing for 4,354 yards and led Washington’s turnaround. The No. 12-ranked Huskies went 10-2 in the regular season, finished tied for second in the Pac-12 and will face No. 21 Texas in the Alamo Bowl.

Penix will have a chance at setting Washington’s single-season record for yards passing in the bowl game. He also threw 29 touchdowns this season. Because of his performance this season, Penix saw his NFL draft stock rise to where he was being expected to be a second-day pick at the latest.

In his announcement, Penix wrote, “As I look back on this special season we had, I realized there were so many great moments and things to celebrate, but I KNOW there is so much for out there for this team and the job is still not finished. I can’t wait to be playing in Husky Stadium for the 2023 season!”

Penix started his career at Indiana and showed flashes of stardom while also battling injuries. He transferred to Washington after the 2021 season, a move that reunited him with new Huskies’ coach Kalen DeBoer, who was Penix’s offensive coordinator for one season at Indiana.

North Texas fires Littrell after .500 record over 7 years

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
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DENTON, Texas – Bowl-bound North Texas has fired coach Seth Littrell, who went 44-44 over seven seasons.

University president Neal Smatresk said Sunday night that the decision to make the move came after a thorough assessment of the program.

The Mean Green are 7-6 this season after losing 48-27 to UTSA in the Conference USA championship game Friday night.

Phil Bennett, their defensive coordinator the past two seasons, was named interim head coach. North Texas plays Boise State in the Frisco Bowl on Dec. 17.

The 44-year-old Littrell had one year left on his contract in what was his first head coaching job. He was the youngest coach in Conference USA and one of the youngest at the FBS level when he arrived after two seasons as offensive coordinator at North Carolina with UNT coming off a 1-11 season at the time.

While the Mean Green are going to their sixth bowl since Littrell first got there, they haven’t won any of those yet. The bowl in his debut season came after only five wins since there weren’t enough bowl-eligible teams to fill all of the slots. Consecutive nine-win seasons followed in 2017 and 2018, but they then had three consecutive losing records before this year.

North Texas also has an interim athletic director after Wren Baker was named as West Virginia’s AD last week.

Smatresk said Jared Mosley, the chief operating officer of UNT athletics, will serve as interim AD. The university is working with a search firm to find Baker’s successor.