Defense was back, and in a big way, for the Sooners in Norman on Saturday as they held on to defeat Iowa State by a final score of 28-21. Oklahoma’s Speed D forced four Iowa State fumbles, intercepted Brock Purdy twice, recorded seven quarterback sacks, and made eleven tackles for loss in an effort that kept the Cyclones frustrated for most of the afternoon.
The win keeps Oklahoma in control of it’s own destiny in the Big 12 championship race and officially eliminated Iowa State from the race. There are a few scenarios still in play for the Sooners, in terms of heading to Arlington, Texas in two weeks, but the most direct way is to win Bedlam.
The Game Defining Moment
Iowa State scored on its opening possession and actually had the Sooner defense on its heels early on. Then Perrion Winfrey lowered the boom on Cyclone quarterback Brock Purdy and everything changed after that. From that point forward Purdy spent a lot of time running for his life from Oklahoma’s defensive pressure. It took Purdy until the middle of the fourth quarter to regain his rhythm and by that time ISU was down multiple touchdowns.
Caleb Williams’ only touchdown pass of the night went to Mario Williams. The two true freshmen hooked up on a play that flashed the athleticism and skill that paints a bright future for both. However, it was the ability of Mario Williams to not only contort his body to make the catch but to also get a toe down inbounds. Caleb Williams extending the play and Mario Williams completing the play were two veteran moves by a pair of freshmen.
Oklahoma only passed for 96 yards and Caleb Williams had less than a 50% completion rate. When is the last time the Sooners won a game with those type of numbers? Seriously, when is the last time? I didn’t want to make the effort to look it up.
Not Clicking On All Cylinders
There’s definitely some issues with the offense right now. Some are going to put the blame on Lincoln Riley and the play calling. Others are going to say it’s receivers not getting open. I think the obvious answer here is that that it’s the quarterbacks not having confidence and not reading through progressions. Sure, there are plays where Riley calls a run when the masses feel like a pass would have been more appropriate, or vise versa. Then there are plays when coverage is really good and there’s no where for Caleb Williams to place the ball. However, there are more plays where Williams misses open receivers because he won’t check down to underneath routes or look at midrange routes. That’s the issue that has to be fixed and it has to be fixed before Saturday’s trip to Stillwater.
Kennedy Brooks ran for 115 yards on 17 carries (6.8 YPC) to become 11th player in Oklahoma football history to rush for over 3,000 career yards.
Held In Check
One of the contributing factors to Oklahoma’s big defensive day was limiting Cyclone running back Breece Hall. In order to win on first down and keep Iowa State behind the chains, OU had to focus on winning the battle up front and not allowing Hall to consistently get to the second level. That’s exactly what they did as Hall only managed 69 yards on 19 carries.
The Problem Child
Iowa State tight end Charlie Kolar was every bit the threat that we feared he would be. Catching 12 passes for 152 and a score, Kolar terrorized the Sooner defense all the way up to the final minutes of the game.
I already mentioned Kennedy Brooks and his contribution to Oklahoma’s offensive performance but it’s absolutely worth mentioning again.
Key Lawrence forced two fumbles on the day and one of them led to the biggest play of the game. Just before the half Lawrence knocked the ball loose from Brock Purdy and Jalen Redmond picked it up on the hop and housed it for what would end up being the game deciding touchdown.
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