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Caleb Williams' amazing heads-up play saves No. 3 Oklahoma's win over Kansas

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Oklahoma freshman QB Caleb Williams' legend is growing.

Williams added to his highlight reel on Saturday in the fourth quarter of OU's 35-23 win over Kansas. With Oklahoma RB Kennedy Brooks stopped on a fourth and short with less than four minutes remaining, Williams ripped the ball from Brooks' hands and ran for the first down to preserve the possession. 

Since Brooks had been pushed behind the line of scrimmage by Kansas' defenders, Williams' strip was legal. Had Brooks been past the line of scrimmage, Williams' heads up play would have been penalized. 

The play essentially won Oklahoma the game as the Sooners later made it a two-possession game with a TD with 42 seconds left. Had Oklahoma not converted that fourth down, Kansas would have had over three minutes to score a touchdown right after gashing the Oklahoma defense for a TD to cut the lead to five.

That KU TD stopped a 21-point barrage from the Sooners. Kansas led 10-0 at halftime and 17-7 late in the third quarter before OU scored three consecutive TDs. 

OU was listless in the first half

Saturday's game was Williams' second start in place of Spencer Rattler. After leading OU to a comeback win over Texas and a dominating effort against TCU, it was easy to envision the Sooners scoring a bunch of points against Kansas as a 38.5-point favorite.

Instead, OU didn’t score a TD until the third quarter was almost halfway over. The Sooners’ three first half drives ended with a punt, Williams’ first interception of the season and a turnover on downs. Kansas did a fantastic job of keeping the ball away from Oklahoma throughout the half and could have led by 14 or even 17 at the break.

After OU cut the lead to 10-7 after a 14-play drive to start the second half, Kansas responded with a TD of its own to regain a 10-point lead. Right after that, the Kansas athletic department announced that anyone and everyone could come to Memorial Stadium to watch the rest of the game.

Right after that tweet, Oklahoma began its comeback. 

Williams finished the game with 178 passing yards, 70 rushing yards and three total touchdowns. He's been responsible for 11 TDs since he replaced Rattler against Texas. 

A loss would have been disastrous for OU

Simply put, Oklahoma would have eliminated itself from College Football Playoff consideration with a loss. How could the committee have justified putting a 12-1 Oklahoma team into the playoff if that loss came to a Kansas team that had covered the spread just once in the past two seasons?

Instead, the Sooners are still in playoff contention, though it’s easy to see them dropping a spot or two in Sunday’s AP Top 25.

Kansas deserves credit too. This was the most competent game the Jayhawks had played in quite some time. Kansas entered game with five losses of 19 points or more to FBS opponents in 2021. Saturday, the Jayhawks weren’t pushed around by Oklahoma and made it clear in the third quarter that their first-half performance wasn’t going to easily fade away.

But OU ultimately won thanks to Williams’ brilliance and a great play by Key Lawrence. He stripped the ball from Steven McBride with 9:22 to go in the fourth quarter. Four plays later, Oklahoma extended its lead from four points to 11 at 28-17.

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