Stadium: Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, IA
Game Time: 11:00 AM
5-69-2. Last win in 1990 in Norman. Last win at home in 1960 when Clyde Williams Field was still standing at the corner of Lincoln Way and Stanton Avenue. Closest margin of defeat since the win in 1990 was three points in 1998. To say this series is lopsided would quite possibly be the understatement of the century. A Paul Rhoads-led team has faced Oklahoma twice and been outscored 78-6 in the process.
Where do you start with a preview then? Well, the teams are different this year. Iowa State cannot rush the ball with any consistency and is continuing to play quarterback roulette while Oklahoma has failed to live up to preseason hype after nearly losing to UTEP to open the season and dropping games to Kansas State and Notre Dame at home in what would be Bob Stoops' first two home losses to ranked teams ever.
Despite the follies that have surrounded both teams there are still goals to be had. Iowa State is fighting for bowl eligibility for the third time in four years and has a favorable November stretch to not only reach six wins, but potentially more (and make the WRNL staff look like geniuses in the process). Oklahoma has still only lost one conference game and by winning out and Kansas State losing two games in November (highly unlikely) would win the Big XII.
One thing is for certain: this isn't your father's Iowa State vs Oklahoma match up.
When We Last Left Off...
Steele Jantz tied the school record for passing touchdowns in a game with five and the Iowa State offense racked up 557 total yards en route to a 35-21 win over Baylor. Jake Knott was named Big XII Defensive Player of the Week in what was likely his final game in an Iowa State uniform after accumulating 11 tackles and one forced fumble. This was the 19th, and final, time in his career that Knott entered into double digit tackles in a game.
Oklahoma got battered and bruised by surrendering 215 yards on the ground to Notre Dame but had a chance to drive and tie the score late before over hyped media sensation Manti Te'o trapped a tipped pass for an interception in an eventual 30-13 Notre Dame win. The Oklahoma running game, which has turned their offense into an efficient powerhouse, was held to 15 yards and forced Landry Jones to throw for 356 yards but no touchdowns.
Iowa State vs Oklahoma: A History
We all know the series record, but here is a recap of the last five games these teams have played.
2010: Oklahoma 52, Iowa State 0
2007: Oklahoma 17, Iowa State 7
2006: Oklahoma 34, Iowa State 9
2003: Oklahoma 53, Iowa State 7
Total score in those five games: Oklahoma 182, Iowa State 29.
A Look at Iowa State's Offense vs Oklahoma
This part returns to the preview, but in an abbreviated format. Steele Jantz will again get the start after his record tying performance last Saturday, but it's going to be the run game and turnovers that are the key to the offense on Saturday morning.
Notre Dame excelled by lining up and running directly at Oklahoma last weekend. They finished with 215 yards on the ground with 148 yards and two touchdowns courtesy of their running backs and 64 yards and a touchdown courtesy of quarterback Everett Golson. Notre Dame running backs carried the ball 26 times and Golson 11 times.
Notre Dame's performance is important because when you take those type of stats to the Rhoads era you get a 12-4 record for the Cyclones when the running backs have 26 or more carries. During these games the backs averaged 5.1 yards per carry with the last loss coming against Kansas State in 2011. Don't overlook the importance of the quarterback in the run game either. In those 16 games mentioned above the quarterbacks have carried an average of 13 times for 49 yards. Making Oklahoma mind that extra gap will be key.
Considering how salty Oklahoma's pass defense is (11th nationally) it's very apparent what needs to be done on Saturday. My biggest concern is Notre Dame likes to run at people and Iowa State attempts to run around people. However, if this team can get 25 or more carries out of Shontrelle Johnson, James White, and Jeff Woody, and keep possession of the ball (i.e., no turnovers) this game is going to go very, very deep into the 4th.
A Look at Iowa State's Defense vs Oklahoma
No Jake Knott, hopefully no problem. Knott is going to be missed all over the field on Saturday but the 2013 team was going to be missing both him and A.J. Klein. If there was ever a time for the men who would fill those roles next year, it's now. Jeremiah George will likely slide into Knott's role in the Nickel package but the question will be who we see in the WILL position in 4-3 sets. It will be some form of combination between C.J. Morgan, Matt Morton, and Jevohn Miller. My choice here is Morgan as Morton is undersized and Miller has yet to fully catch on to the defense after getting all the first string reps in the spring while Knott was out.
The most important position on the field Saturday is going to be Iowa State's defensive line. They will have to have the best gap control of the season to slow down Oklahoma's running game and take the pressure off the decision making of the linebackers. They will not limit the Sooners to 15 yards like Notre Dame did but if they can keep them under 75 then this game falls on the shoulders of Landry Jones. The same Landry Jones that struggled in Norman last year under constant pressure from a lesser defensive line. My biggest concern is going to be the red zone defense and the experience of Knott will be missed the most here. This will only be negated if the defensive line has their best game of the season.
Jalen Saunders' emergence last week was a surprise (15 receptions, 181 yards) but the passing game still flows through Kenny Stills and Penn State transfer Justin Brown. None of the receivers are at the same physical level as Terrance Williams or Tevin Reese but are solid enough to bail Jones out when he gets in trouble.
A Look at Iowa State's Special Teams vs Oklahoma
Kirby Van Der Kamp will again be huge here in attempting to give Oklahoma long fields and force them to drive the length of the field to put up points. Oklahoma had a kickoff return and punt return for touchdown against Kansas but has been rather unnoticed on special teams much of the year. This game is going to be close and mistakes on special teams are going to be a big factor in to how this game plays out late. Iowa State will need a perfect special teams day (including made field goals) to hang close and anything less than that could spoil a potential upset.
WRNL Lead Pipe Prediction (2-6): Josh Lenz returns to action and finds the end zone.
50/50 Prediction (1-6): Oklahoma coughs the ball up once in their own territory.
Reason for Impromptu Dumpster Burning (4-4): How is this prediction better than the other two? I have no idea. All I want here is not the classic Oklahoma vs Iowa State result.
What We Are Drinking When We Aren't Drinking Natty (AKA Cyclone
Jukebox Beer Pick of the Week)
A new feature that we hope will gain some traction over the coming years, and a blatant ripoff of Pat Forde and the end of his column.
With the early morning tailgate this weekend and the need for something hearty we will be drinking Founders' Breakfast Stout. At 8.3% ABV this beer WILL GET YA DRUNK. Founders is a Michigan brewery that is new to the Iowa scene but this can be picked up at various liquor stores throughout the state, including Ames' own Cyclone Liquors. At 26th on Beer Advocate's Top Beers this beer is worth the extra money.
Brent Blum again summed up my thoughts on how this game impacts the Cyclones and why so many in and around Ames are confident in Saturday. This game means a lot to the program, but is not the end all, be all of games with three more very winnable games left on the schedule.
This would not be the most epic Paul Rhoads' Upset Special (#2 Oklahoma State will be that until further notice) but it would be the one that gets the biggest monkey off the program's back and could alter the landscape in further seasons.
Oklahoma is certainly not without their faults this season, but neither are the Cyclones. The Baylor game was necessary to build confidence and get back on the right track but we have yet to see this offense put together two solid weeks of consistent production. Even without Jake Knott the defense is going to be stout enough to keep Iowa State in the game but this one just feels like a game where the program is "not quite there yet".
With the aggressiveness the Oklahoma defense has shown throughout the season, and the ability of Iowa State's offense (namely the offensive line) to fold like a cheap lawn chair at the first sign of adversity, I have a hard time believing the Cyclones can mount a significant attack to knock off the Sooners.
As much as I like to pick upsets, I don't think this one is the 2012 Paul Rhoads' Special. Oklahoma has only lost back-to-back games in-season twice under Bob Stoops (1999 and 2003) and for some reason he squeezes the most out of his players for this game. Especially his defense.
Once again I feel our offense stalls, but the defense keeps them in it to give us false hope in a one or two possession game in the 4th quarter.
Iowa State 10
PS - As always, provide your predictions down below. I know some people see this as an ass whooping of epic proportions and I'd love to hear why.
PPS - Also provide any beer recommendations below. We prefer things you can find local but anything is welcome. Don't be afraid to share them on Saturday either.
PPPS - Ever notice how when we play the Cyclone Jukebox Pick of the Week we win? Let's keep that up.