Oklahoma opens Big 12 play with Kansas State on Saturday — or at least, that’s what the No. 3 Sooners have planned.
Kansas State coach Chris Klieman said the Wildcats (0-1) were 18 hours away from kicking off against Arkansas State on Sept. 12 when it officially learned it had enough players to proceed with the nonconference tilt — the Big 12 requires teams to have at least 53 players and a minimum of one quarterback, four interior defensive linemen and seven offensive linemen among them.
It was a stressful Friday for Klieman, a day before the team’s 2020 season opener that the Wildcats lost 35-31, as he awaited COVID test and contact tracing results.
Klieman expects this week to be the same.
“On the Arkansas State game, it was Friday at 5 o’clock where we finally got the go-ahead to play, because we were one player at one position away from having to cancel that game,” Klieman said during a Tuesday news conference. “... and this week, it’s another position that we’re really close on the threshold.”
If the game is canceled, OU and Kansas State share a bye week on Oct. 17, making a reschedule fairly easy on both sides.
It will undoubtedly become trickier to make games up as OU gets into its conference slate where it will play go from three consecutive games to a bye week, another three consecutive games before a second bye week and then a third set of three consecutive games to close the season.
“Interested to see how that goes, not just for us, but for the rest of the conference,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said, “It was good to have a bye week when we did, glad that we had that scheduled when we did. Happy that we were able to play. … You obviously just don’t have that cushion now that you’ve had with three straight important games coming up.
“We obviously have to continue to handle it better. Understand that a guy makes a mistake or gets popped for contact tracing now, it’s not going to be one game, it’s likely to be multiple games.”
• Haselwood expected back: A lower-leg injury kept OU receiver Jadon Haselwood out of the team’s season opener against Missouri State on Sept. 12.
OU coach Lincoln Riley anticipates Haselwood, a sophomore from Ellenwood, Georgia, will be back at some point this season. When that will be is still uncertain.
“Jadon has done really well and progressing very quickly,” Riley said. “We absolutely expect that he’ll be available to play for us at some point this year.”
Haselwood was the unanimous No. 1 receiver prospect in the 2019 recruiting class. He appeared in 13 games last season, catching 19 passes for 272 yards and a touchdown. He averaged 14.3 yards each reception.
• New testing data: OU released its latest COVID-19 testing data on Monday, marking the first time the athletics department has disclosed any COVID testing figures since Aug. 24.
OU reportedly tested 583 players and 177 staff members across all sports between Sept. 13-19. The school reports eight positive cases were found during that round of testing.
OU says its teams have a combined 20 active cases among players and three among staff. OU notes it’s had 143 players and seven staff members recover from COVID-19 since it began testing this summer.
The COVID testing positivity rate has gone from 9% to 4% over the last three weeks for players, according to the release.
• Up in the air: FOX and ESPN will wait until Saturday to determine the start time for OU’s game at Iowa State on Oct. 3.
The No. 3 Sooners (1-0) and Cyclones (0-1) will either kick off at 11 a.m. on FOX or 6:30 p.m. on ABC. The time slot OU doesn’t receive will go to Texas’ home against TCU on Oct. 3.
The Big 12 announced Baylor at West Virginia will kick off at 11 a.m. on ABC, Oklahoma State at Kansas will be at 2:30 p.m. on either ABC or ESPN and Texas Tech at Kansas State will start at 2:30 p.m. on Fox Sports 1.