Norman, OK – A pair of teams coming off very different ranked Oklahoma Sooners.
Iowa State claimed its biggest win ever last Friday night, as the Cyclones upset then No. 2 Oklahoma State in a 37-31 double-overtime thriller in front of an elated home crowd. The improbable victory moved ISU to 6-4 on the year, making the squad bowl eligible for the second time in coach Paul Rhoads' three seasons at the helm. Iowa State, which has won three in a row on the heels of a four-game losing streak, came into last week's game 0-56-2 against teams ranked sixth or higher in the AP poll.
At the other end of the spectrum, Oklahoma found itself on the wrong end of a 45-38 decision at Baylor last Saturday, thus sending the Sooners to their second defeat of the season. It was the first time OU had ever lost to Baylor (21-0 prior to last week). At 8-2 overall and 5-2 in Big 12 action, coach Bob Stoops' team currently sits third in the league standings, just behind 6-2 Kansas State and 7-1 Oklahoma State. The Sooners and Cowboys renew their rivalry next week in Stillwater.
Oklahoma owns a commanding 68-5-2 record all-time against Iowa State, which includes a 35-3-1 mark in Norman. The Sooners have dominated each of the last three games against the Cyclones at home, outscoring them by a 135-6 margin.
Iowa State battled back from a 17-point second-half deficit to knock the Oklahoma State Cowboys out of the BCS National Championship conversation, doing so behind an offense that generated 568 total yards, 376 of which came from the arm of QB Jared Barnett. Barnett threw three TD passes on the night, and Albert Gray was clearly his primary target, as he finished with seven catches for 109 yards and a score. The ISU rushing attack also featured Barnett, as he gained 84 yards on 14 carries. Jeff Woody, who scored the game- winning TD on a four-yard run in the second overtime, rumbled his way to 54 yards, while James White added 53 yards and a score of his own.
Defensively, ISU knew that Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden was going to get his (42-of-58, 476 yards, three TDs), but the Cyclones made plays when they had to, picking the standout gunslinger off three times, all while holding the Cowboys to just 60 net rushing yards. A.J. Klein and Jake Knott were the two most active defenders for Iowa State, logging 14 and 13 tackles, respectively, and the unit as a whole came up with five total turnovers despite not recording a sack.
Coach Rhoads loves the workmanlike approach his team brings to the field each time out, and was particularly proud of the performance last week, "We've got a group of young men that put their hard hats on every day and just continue to go to work. I could not be prouder of the effort they put out tonight. It was complete team effort and that is what we needed for victory and that is what we delivered."
Through 10 games, Iowa State is averaging 25.3 ppg behind 183.9 ypg rushing and 226.2 ypg passing. Defensively, the Cyclone are yielding 29.9 ppg, with their effort against the pass being particularly lax (243.2 ypg). Barnett clearly had the best game of his career last week, and he comes into this clash having completed 50.6 percent of his throws for 900 yards with four TDs and four INTs for the season. White leads the ground assault with eight TDs, but he is averaging just 67.1 ypg. Knott is the team's top tackler with 93 stops, and the Cyclones will need to play above their means again this week as they attempt to stare down another loaded offense.
Oklahoma QB Landry Jones came into this season regarded as one of the top signal callers in the country, and while his stats bear that out (.653 completion percentage, 3,796 yards, 28 TDs, 10 INTs), his team has lost two games it probably shouldn't have. The loss of star WR Ryan Broyles (83 receptions, 1,157 yards, 10 TDs) to injury hurts, but so does a rushing attack that doesn't feature a consistent 100-yard rusher. Still, the unit has been productive in scoring 24 TDs on the ground, with RB Dom Whaley leading the way with nine scores. OU lights up the scoreboard for nearly 45 ppg, and averages better than 27 first downs per outing.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Sooners have shown the ability to limit the opposition's production (22.3 ppg), although in their two losses, Oklahoma is giving up an average of 43 ppg. Foes have found it particularly difficult to move the ball on the ground (127.7 ppg), scoring only 11 TDs via the run. Travis Lewis and Aaron Colvin currently sit one-two on the team's tackles list, checking in with 67 and 65, respectively, and the defensive unit as bunch has been credited with 36 sacks and 20 takeaways.
Jones threw for 447 yards last week against Baylor, but he did not have a TD pass and he sacked twice and picked off once. Jaz Reynolds had seven catches for 114 yards, while Kenny Still finished with six grabs for 75 and James Hanna hauled in four balls for 90 yards. Roy Finch led the OU ground attack with 95 yards on 17 carries, but Blake Bell was the name announcers called the most, as he carried the ball just five times for minimal yardage, but scored four TDs.
Tom Wort and Corey Nelson tallied nine stops apiece in the setback, and the Sooners failed to come up with a turnover. They did however, limit the Bears to 3-of-13 success on third-down conversion attempts despite giving up more than 600 yards of total offense.
Coach Stoops gave credit to Baylor for the win, but was also quick to point out his own team's shortcomings, Baylor's a good team, and they outplayed us tonight. We got up on them by seven points, but we didn't make plays in the series after that to start going again," He continued, "We just didn't play well enough to win. We had too many turnovers and too many penalties. That's about it."