#12 Oklahoma (5-2) @ Iowa State (5-3)
- Game Time: 11:00
- TV: ABC
- Sirius Channel: 117
- The Spread: Iowa State +11
The Lowdown: Iowa State suddenly found their offense last weekend which came in the form of Steele Jantz's right arm. The senior quarterback once again took over the starting quarterback position after watching from the sideline the past three games. His comeback performance was more than impressive as he threw for 381 yards and five touchdowns earning himself another start this weekend against the Sooners.
Of course, putting up those types of numbers against Baylor is one thing, doing it against Oklahoma is another thing entirely.
The Sooner's defense is ranked second in the Big 12 giving up just 17.4 points per game. They held Texas Tech and Kansas State to 20 and 24 points, respectively, both of which were season lows for two of the Big 12's best offenses.
That's bad news for Iowa State who has struggled to put the ball in the end zones at times this season, although inconsistent is probably the best word to describe the Cyclones through the first two-thirds of the season.
They scored 30 or more points in wins over Tulsa, Western Illinois, TCU and Baylor, yet they managed just nine points against Iowa (and won), 13 against Texas Tech and 10 against Oklahoma State in two of their three losses.
Maybe the most surprising aspect of Iowa State's offense this season has been the fact that they are bringing up the rear in the Big 12 rushing for just 141.9 yard per game. It's no coincidence, however, that in their best wins of the year against Tulsa, TCU, and Baylor, the Cyclones rushed for an average of 166 yards per game.
In losses to Texas Tech, Kansas State, and Oklahoma State, they averaged just 94 yards per game on the ground. There's no question the competition was better in the those games, but if Iowa State wants to crack into the top half of the Big 12 standings, they need to fiigure out how to run the ball more consistently regardless of the opponent.
As for Oklahoma, they are coming off their second disappointing loss of the season after falling to Notre Dame on Saturday. Oklahoma tied the game early in the fourth quarter but couldn't sustain the momentum finally succumbing to the Notre Dame defense which simply wouldn't allow them in the end zone.
The loss was especially disappointing considering the fact that OU had been playing their best football of the season coming into the game beating Texas Tech, Texas, and Kansas by a combined 98 points.
It's now back to the drawing board for the Sooners who still have hopes of winning a Big 12 title even if their national title hopes have come to an end. To get there, however, they likely need to win out and that starts this weekend in Ames.
Iowa State, Keys to the Game:
1. Run for 150+ yards. It was mentioned in the opening, but when Iowa State runs the ball effectively, they win. The Sooners defense has been decent against the run at times, but in their two losses, both Kansas State and Notre Dame rushed for 200+ yards. While Iowa State doesn't have the same firepower as either of those teams, they need to find a way to pick yards on the ground if they hope to have any chance of pulling the upset on Saturday.
2. Steele Jantz, has to take care of the football. Jantz is once again the man under center for the Cyclones and that's good in a lot of ways, but one of the big reasons he was sent to the bench in each of the last two seasons, is because of his poor decisions with the football. He turned it over just once last week against Baylor and will need to have a similar performance, if not a turnover free performance, on Saturday. That leads us to point number three.
3. Take what the defense gives you. The Sooners have a very good secondary meaning Jantz would be best suited to make a few yards with his feet when his receivers are blanketed rather than risk turnovers swinging the momentum in OU's favor. Oklahoma's defense never gives up much, but it'll be up to Jantz to take advantage of the opportunities when they present themselves.
Oklahoma, Keys to the Game:
1. Keep up the pace. There are not many teams in college football that run their offense at a faster pace than do the Sooners and that should work to their advantage on Saturday in Ames. Oklahoma State laid out the blue print for moving the ball on the Cyclones running 89 plays while racking up 625 yards in the process. Iowa State's defense is good, but not necessarily deep. Oklahoma's frantic pace should pay dividends especially in the second half once ISU's defense starts reaching for the oxygen mask.
2. Defend the pass. Iowa State quarterback Steele Jantz is coming off his best performance of his Cyclone career. Not to take anything away from Mr. Jantz, but that was against Baylor's woeful secondary.
There aren't many secondary's in the nation that cover better than does OU and if the Sooners can keep a blanket on ISU's receivers, Jantz will likely start making ill-advised throws that have plagued him during his Cyclone career. Oklahoma should have more than a few chances at a some interceptions as a result.
Iowa State had the breakout game they were looking for on offense last weekend, but let's keep that in perspective. The Cyclones did it against a Baylor defense that hadn't held a Big 12 opponent under 40 points all season. The Sooners' defense is in another world compared to they one the saw last weekend.
The Cyclones defense will keep them in it for a while - even without Jake Knott - but the ISU offense won't be able to sustain enough drives to give their defense a break.
Oklahoma will rediscover their running game and the Sooner defense will come up with a couple game changing turnovers. The Sooners win going away.
Oklahoma 38 Iowa State 17