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The Oklahoma State Postmortem


Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

The attainment of nice things has fallen short yet again. Everything is stupid. Let's just get this over with.

What Went Well

Offense – The offensive line played excellent. Joel Lanning got all the time he could've asked for against a front seven that averaged four sacks a game entering Saturday. Oklahoma State was also allowing just a hair over 160 rushing yards per game in conference play (good for 2nd), a total Iowa State was able to eclipse by 100 yards, with steady contributions from Lanning, Mike Warren and Josh Thomas. Not only did the line give Joel plenty of time to throw, it opened gaping holes for him to run through on zone read keeps, a play he ran often and scored on twice.

Lanning and Warren each ran with the vision and power we've all come to expect, particularly Lanning, who masqueraded as a fullback on several of his 14 carries for 130 yards — the most by an Iowa State quarterback in 15 years. Warren carried 15 times for 73 yards (4.9 per carry) before being knocked out of the game with an apparent knee injury. Josh Thomas added a TD, his 7th of the year, setting a new freshman program record. Trever Ryan, who also contributed 23 yards on the ground, rounded out a rushing attack that has now accumulated at least 200 yards in six of its last eight games.

Allen Lazard led all receivers with 74 yards on three receptions and a TD, giving him a catch in all 21 of his games as a Cyclone. He continues to be a guy opposing defenses have to gameplan for.

Defense – Yet again Wally Burnham, as chastised a defensive coordinator as there ever was, held a conference opponent under its season scoring average. "Bend don't break" has been more effective this season than most people think, but unfortunately when this unit broke on Saturday, it really broke. But there was a lot to be impressed with, most of it up front. Mason Rudolph was sacked three times — twice by Demond Tucker, who made four stops behind the line of scrimmage in total — and one by Dale Pierson, who has tied Shawn Moorehead's 2006 single-season tally at 8.5.

There were times on Saturday when I wished we could've cloned Brian Peavy, who continues to make plays all over the field. He tallied 12 tackles on Saturday and joins Qujuan Floyd, who had seven of his own, at 6th in the Big 12 with 7.7 stops per game in conference play.

Levi Peters also forced and recovered a crucial fumble (his 3rd of the season) that led to ISU's final score of the game with 2:04 left in the 3rd quarter. Only Baylor's Jamal Palmer has forced as many in Big 12 play this season.

Special Teams – Cole Netten is effectively off the schneid after banging through a 21-yarder for his sixth consecutive FG of the season. Colin Downing still brings up the Big 12 caboose in yards per punt but was able to pin the Cowboys inside their 20 twice. The attempted cross-field lateral on Iowa State's second kick return of the game was fun to watch, if for no other reason than to watch Jomal Wiltz begin the play lying face down on the turf before he caught the pass.

It seems like I bring this up every game, and it's worth mentioning: The Cyclones have been phenomenal in kickoff coverage. They've booted a Big 12 low six touchbacks on the year yet lead the conference in net yardage allowed. Props yet again to Chris Francis and the bomb squad.

What Went Wrong

Offense – 104 yards in a half is not going to win you football games in the Big 12, but again Iowa State found itself struggling to piece together a sound offensive gameplan in the second half of a game. The unit was simply incapable of extending drives, which really started toward the end of the 1st half. In a game that saw OSU win the time of possession battle handily in every quarter, ISU needed to do something with the opportunities it had (i.e. scoring on its first four drives of the game). Unfortunately, that productivity fell by the wayside late in the game just as it did against TCU.

A questionable offensive pass interference call against D'Vario Montgomery was the first in a rotten series of events in the team's opening drive of the half — none more excruciating then some awful spotting by the officials on two consecutive plays that eventually halted the drive and led to a punt. From there, even with the points off of Peters' timely fumble recovery a drive later, the momentum appeared to swing heavily in the Cowboys' favor the rest of the way.

Lanning was just 5/12 for 38 yards in the second half.

Defense – Too long to throw, too many big plays, too many third down completions. It's as simple as that. Starting from its opening drive, Oklahoma State got about anything it wanted through the air. When you're overmatched against receivers with big play ability like Iowa State has been countless times this season, the last thing you want to do is give the quarterback time to throw downfield. Unfortunately they did, and Marcell Ateman in particular made them pay for it with eight catches (four on the opening drive) for 132 yards and a TD.

Nigel Tribune and Sam Richardson had a rough 60 minutes, from seeing the ball well to even timing jumps properly in coverage. Rudolph exposed that early and took advantage on nearly every drive to the tune of 327 yards. Especially maddening was Rudolph's ability to complete deep sideline throws at will, which proved to be indefensible by our corners.

Wiltz, a patch of slippery grass (I guess) away from making a game-changing interception, was the only defender to notch a pass breakup on the day.

Special Teams – Not a lot to gripe about here.

Final Grades

Offense: B

Defense: C+

Special Teams: B+

Next Week

Iowa State pays a visit to Bill Snyder Family Stadium for another installment of Farmageddon. Synder-led Wildcats are 19-4 all-time against the Cyclones (over two separate tenures) despite trailing in the series 49-45-4. ISU hasn't won in Manhattan since 2004, and 1988 before that. Kansas State will need to rattle off wins in its final three games — against Iowa State, at Kansas and back home for West Virginia — to gain bowl eligibility for a sixth straight year.

It'll be an 11:00 AM kick on Fox Sports 1.