Colorado's Klatt may be key to averting rout by Sooners

Updated: October 23, 2003, 4:15 PM ET

BOULDER, Colo. -- Colorado's timing couldn't be much worse.

The Buffaloes have dropped to last place nationally (117th) in scoring defense, allowing 40.1 points per game including more than 40 points to each of the last five opponents. And here comes No. 1 Oklahoma.

The Sooners' offense is averaging 45.7 points per game, which already stands second in the nation and figures to fatten up even more on the succulent Buffaloes.

Coming off a mistake-filled 49-20 loss to Kansas State last week, the Buffs must regroup immediately or it could get ugly on Saturday night.

"We can't be down too long or Oklahoma's going to put 90 (points) on us," tailback Brian Calhoun said.

The Sooners almost did that in 1980, overwhelming Colorado 82-42. The pressure is on Joel Klatt, Colorado's sophomore quarterback, to see that it doesn't happen.

"We want to eat up some clock with our drives and try to tire their defense out," Klatt said.

The strategy is commendable, but it's a tall order against a Sooner defense which ranks third in the country overall (allowing 260.0 yards per game) and eighth in scoring (14.4).

"We look at this as a great opportunity," Klatt said. "Everyone in the nation knows what Oklahoma is capable of. They're as solid a team as you're going to find -- offensively, defensively and on special teams. That's why they're No. 1.

"Saying that, we feel that if we come out and play with great intensity and passion, we're going to give them a fistfight.."

Klatt said the Buff offense needs to score five or six touchdowns this week -- and not just because of the opposition.

"That's what we feel we're capable of," he said. "We should have scored that many times against Kansas State. They didn't stop us, really. We had some good drives, some long 10-play drives. Then we would just kill ourselves with mistakes near the 30-yard line and force our kicker to make a really long field goal."

The Buffs (3-4, 1-2 Big 12) also were victimized by two blocked punts. Trailing only 15-13 at halftime, Colorado was outscored 34-7 in the second half.

The Buffs have been outscored 117-33 in the second half of their four losses, a differential which coach Gary Barnett attributes to inexperience and inconsistency.

"We started five true freshmen on Saturday," he said. "Our defense is giving up a lot of points, and our special teams are making the kinds of mistakes we didn't make before."

Klatt, who missed two starts because of a shoulder injury, has been solid all season, completing 125 of 196 passes for 1,470 yards with nine touchdowns and three interceptions. Not bad for a player who is still a walk-on.

Oklahoma's Jason White has been better. White has completed 149 of 221 passes for 2,040 yards with 22 touchdowns and four interceptions. His pass-efficiency rating of 174.2 is tops in the country.

"We expected Jason to be very good," coach Bob Stoops said. "He's turned out to be more than great with the way he's played. That's been such a plus, just his execution."

In last week's 34-13 win over Missouri, White was 20-of-34 for 278 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

"That's pretty good," Stoops said, "but it's kind of an off day for him."

Oklahoma (7-0, 3-0) also has been sparked by Antonio Perkins, who returned a punt 69 yards for a touchdown against Missouri. It was his seventh career punt return for a touchdown and the fourth this year, tying two NCAA records.

The Sooners have gone 0-3-1 in their last four visits to Boulder. But Oklahoma beat Colorado twice last season -- 27-11 in Norman and 29-7 in the Big 12 championship game in Houston.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index