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Can OU improve its return game vs. KU?

NORMAN, Okla. -- The Sooners are coming off a beatdown of Texas. The Jayhawks are reeling from the other end of one. Guess what might happen when the two meet Saturday?

Here are five key storylines to follow for the Oklahoma-Kansas game:

1. Emotional letdown?

After a thrilling victory and impressive performance at Florida State, the Oklahoma defense came out flat against Missouri.

Can the Sooners rectify that following the emotional win over Texas?

They have had a good week of practice leading up to Kansas, a positive sign considering they weren't sharp the week before Missouri. The next step is putting Kansas away early, something they couldn't do to Missouri.

2. Red zone offense

The Sooners have been in the red zone 27 times this season, but only 16 of those drives have resulted in touchdowns. That touchdown conversion rate ranks 67th nationally.

OU is too good offensively to struggle like this in the red zone. Facing a hapless Kansas defense, this will be an opportune time to refine the red zone attack, maybe by getting others involved, such as tight end James Hanna and jet back Roy Finch.

3. Return game

Bob Stoops isn't as worried about his special teams as the OU fan base seems to be. But the fans have reason to be antsy. Since 2008, nobody has given up more kick return touchdowns than the Sooners.

More troubling, the Sooners rank No. 106 in the nation in kickoff return yardage this season, and through the last four seasons OU has not returned a single kickoff for a score.

Should these trends continue, they almost surely will derail OU's title aspirations.

4. Evaluating defensive depth

This should be a good chance for defensive coordinator Brent Venables to get his key backups some snaps. Venables doesn't play his reserves often, but the Sooners might be up so big he'll be compelled to do so. At some point, the Sooners might have to count on top backups such as middle linebacker Jaydan Bird and cornerback Gabe Lynn, who still haven't played much this season.

5. Time for the freshmen

Running back Brandon Williams might not have to fret about that Texas fumble for long. He, along with wideout Kameel Jackson and quarterback Blake Bell, should get some opportunities in the second half if OU can put away Kansas early.

This will also be a chance for No. 2 QB Drew Allen to gain more experience, as well as emerging offensive linemen, such as guard Adam Shead.