Iowa State vs. Oklahoma Prediction: Sooners Need To Bounce Back With Win Over Cyclones
Spread: Oklahoma -5.5
Game time: Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET
Where to Watch: FOX
Iowa State vs. Oklahoma Prediction - Out of the tunnel
Lincoln Riley has more problems than Baylor kicking a useless field goal to run up the score (of course that’s what Baylor was doing).
Whether or not the Oklahoma coach admits it, he has a full-blown quarterback controversy. That’s what happens when you bench a preseason Heisman Trophy candidate (Spencer Rattler) a month into the season and replace him with a freshman (Caleb Williams).
Then bench the freshman last weekend when your unbeaten season is teetering, and go back to the benched Heisman contender — and get nothing from him while you lose your first game of the season.
And one more thing: your odds of reaching the College Football Playoff just dropped to slim – while you’re staring at the most difficult portion of the schedule.
Make no mistake, Oklahoma still is the favorite to win the Big 12, but the road is daunting: beat Iowa State, then beat rival Oklahoma State next week in Bedlam – and beat Oklahoma State again a week later in the Big 12 Championship Game.
Any OU loss in the next two weeks allows Baylor (if it wins out) to reach the Big 12 championship game because it holds the tiebreaker over OU.
The Sooners also still have hope to for a spot in the CFP — but that would include winning out, and chaos occurring outside the Big 12 in the final weeks of the regular season.
Iowa State returned 20 starters this season, and had CFP hopes – but lost for the fourth time last week. The Cyclones still have slim Big 12 titles hopes: win out (over OU and TCU), and hope Oklahoma loses to Oklahoma State, and Baylor loses to both Kansas State and Texas Tech.
In that scenario, Iowa State would play Oklahoma State – which it beat in Week 7 – in the Big 12 Championship Game.
Iowa State Preview - When Iowa State has the ball
The offense runs through uber-talented TB Breece Hall, who has put up monster numbers (1,172 yards, 16 TD) despite inconsistent play in the passing game.
That, more than anything, is the reason for Iowa State’s four-loss season: the offensive balance that Iowa State believed it had going into the season hasn’t materialized.
QB Brock Purdy, a four-year starter, hasn’t made significant strides since his breakout sophomore season. He still makes occasional wow plays, but he’s now a complementary piece to the offense that’s fueled by Hall – not the focus of the unit.
The Cyclones don’t try to hide what’s important: a big, experienced offensive line and Hall, a powerful, dynamic runner with breakaway speed, running behind it. Hall does the hard work between the tackles, and can get outside and to the second level.
The passing game revolves around Hall’s ability to set the table by forcing defenses to bring extra defenders in the box to stop the run. But even then, Iowa State doesn’t have the receivers on the outside to make defenses pay.
WR Xavier Henderson has 68 catches, but he’s averaging just 11.7 yards per catch. Oklahoma’s defense has been solid for much of the season, but got exposed last weekend against Baylor, giving up 296 yards rushing.
Hall will be a more difficult problem for the OU defense, but unlike Baylor with dual-threat QB Gerry Bohanon, Purdy isn’t necessarily a threat to run the ball – so the Sooners can load the box and force Purdy to win the game with his arm.
Oklahoma Preview - When Oklahoma has the ball
Expect Williams to start at quarterback because he gives the Sooners the best chance at a balanced offense. He had his throwing hand stepped on against Baylor, but Riley said that wasn’t why he was benched.
Riley said Rattler had a good week of practice, and that’s why he replaced Williams. But that good week of practice didn’t help him escape a season-long funk.
When Williams is right, the Oklahoma offense is dangerous because Williams can do things Rattler can’t. Most notably, Williams allows OU to use the quarterback run game with the zone read, and that sets up the ability to use run-pass options.
The problem with Williams at quarterback: OU leans too heavily on him when he plays, in both the run and pass games. So when a freshman has a game where he’s not seeing defenses like he should (see: the Baylor game), the entire offense shuts down.
TB Kennedy Brooks (853 yards, 10 TD) is solid, but both he and TB Eric Gray have been secondary to Williams since the come-from-behind win over Texas last month.
Iowa State is No.18 in the nation in rush defense (112 ypg.), and No.10 in total defense (306 ypg.). The Cyclones’ front seven is physical and active, and they have 62 tackles for loss.
Iowa State vs. Oklahoma - The bottom line
Oklahoma has struggled to score points all season. It begins with an offensive line that hasn’t played to its potential, getting beat at the point of attack and giving up too many pressures in the passing game.
The Sooners look like a mess right now – and that’s typically when OU turns the corner and delivers a knockout blow. But this isn’t your typical Sooners team.
Iowa State vs. Oklahoma Pick
- Prediction: Oklahoma 24-20
- Pick: Iowa State +5.5 @ -108