2018 Game II: Iowa State (0-1, 0-0) vs. Oklahoma (2-0, 0-0)
Date: Saturday, September 15, 2018
Time: 11:00 A.M. CST
Location: MidAmerican Energy Field at Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, IA
Line: OU -17.5
Radio: Cyclone Radio Network
SB Nation Website - Crimson and Cream Machine
Boy oh boy, Gotta love Over-Reaction Monday.
From the words of Aaron Rodgers, R-E-L-A-X.
While Iowa State put up a stinker against the “Team Out East” last week, there is still hope for the season. In year’s past the mental breakdown and the lack of leadership would tear this program down. I’ve got one thing for you diehard Cyclone fans – “This is Not Your Father’s Iowa State”. And if there is any credence to that, look back at Campbell’s first two years – you see his players get stronger, and the team improves as the year goes on.
In closing, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It may not look pretty with a matchup against #5 Oklahoma on the horizon, but there is hope.
When we last left off….
Iowa State played the exact game Iowa wanted them to. They tried beating the Hoks at their own game, and failed miserably. Instead of utilizing our speed and athleticism, the Cyclones played the old man approach of field position, forcing turnovers, and quality special teams.
The Cyclones forced ZERO turnovers and punter Corey Dunn somehow shanked two punts for less than a combined 27 yards. If there was one takeaway, it was the fact this defense is LEGIT. The defensive line had no problem stopping the vaunted Iowa rushing attack with a THREE-MAN Front. Sitting in my seat at Kinnick, I kept waiting for a fourth lineman to come in the game, but it wasn’t needed. Linebacker Mike Rose proved to us why he was put on the field, and the rest of the unit played tremendously sound football.
The offense, well, that was as nerve-wracking as listening to your grandparents say “what” every other word. People always ask why did Iowa State continue to try and run the ball when it wasn’t working. If there is one knock on Campbell it is his stubbornness of trying to establish the running game. He knows the key to victory is ball control, move the chains on the ground, and eating up clock. It just flat out didn’t work, and Kempt did not have enough time (or help) to get his feet set and make throws. The rhythm just never got started, and when UI made adjustments after that first drive, the Cyclones were dead in the water.
What better team to be playing after a piss-pounder than the nationally-ranked number-five team in the country! I think Lincoln Riley is truly a genius. The 35-year old savant puts his players in position to make not just plays, but BIG PLAYS. I think he is right up there with Rams Coach Sean McVay as the pinnacle of offensive wizardry.
Running right where the ship left off is Quarterback Kyler Murray. The 5-foot-10 junior is lighting it up this fall, averaging an absurd 18.4 yards per completion, leading the Sooners to 567 yards and 56 points per game. While the standout baseball player (1st rd pick in MLB Draft) has a tremendous arm, he is just as elusive as a runner, and is already climbing the ladder as a Heisman candidate.
OU did lose their 1st Team-All Big-12 running back Rodney Anderson to a season-ending injury last week, but are loaded in the backfield and will be just fine. Their defense has given up some points, but has been terrorizing in the backfield, with EIGHT sacks through two games.
Overall, the Sooners are 2-0, and are big favorites to not only win the Big 12, but represent the conference in the College Football Playoff.
How can we forget last year’s game in Norman? Going in with a backup walk-on quarterback and as a 31-point underdog, the Cyclones did the unthinkable, shocking the nation in the biggest upset of the year. ISU beat OU for the first time since 1990, behind a 343-yard passing day from Kempt, and this game-winning catch by all-time legend Allen Lazard.
Aside from that, this matchup has been as one-sided as the Harlem Globetrotters and Washington Generals, as OU’s winning percentage (.915) is the best by one FBS program over another in the history of ever-ever land.
Iowa State Offense
To say it kindly, the Iowa State offense struggled last week versus Iowa. Now I don’t think we will see another defense like that the rest of the way, but there is a lot of work left to do.
Number one is the offensive line. Moving Julian Good-Jones back to center made sense going into a hostile environment, but the tackles struggled mightily. Campbell needed to help his bookends with a chip or tight end in to block, and left them on islands too often. The results – ISU gave up four costly sacks and multiple momentum-killing penalties that set drives back.
First Key to Victory – Give X-Factor Zeb Noland Time to Throw Downfield
Kyle Kempt’s prognosis on his knee injury was “much better than expected,” but he will be a game-time decision come Saturday. The offensive unit (and coaching staff) is quite comfortable with backup Zeb Noland, and with #4 calling the plays, it gives the offense a much-needed spark in what will likely be a shoot-out. Noland has the ability to keep the safeties on their toes, and has a ROCKET for an arm. I’m giddy at the thought of Zeb slinging passes downfield and he has the talent to shred this suspect secondary.
I was very un-impressed with the lack of separation Iowa State receivers created against Iowa, and even more disheartened at the yards after catch. Deshaunte Jones did break a big one, but all in all, it seemed with the lack of containing pressure up front it messed with the timing of the routes for the receivers. OU only returns one full-time starter in the secondary, so look for a variety of back-shoulder and jump balls to Hakeem Butler and Matthew Eaton, and a boat-load of screen passes to Deshaunte Jones and Tarique Milton out of the slot.
David Montgomery got plenty of touches in week one (20) but never sustained success. He goes up against a 3-4 front that carries a ton of speed, but with the DM TRAIN’s power, it is just what the doctor ordered. If the Cyclones are unable to give Noland time in the pocket, I see a lot more designed passes to #32 and let the man create. He can do it, just give him some space.
The Sooner defense is led by former OU coach Bobby Stoops’s brother Mike Stoops; and he has been there a LOOONG TIME. He recently switched the unit over to a 3-3-5 scheme to utilize more speed against Big 12 opponents. The Sooners do have holes though, as they only carry two senior starters and start three freshmen. Albeit the fact that most of those are 4- and 5-star recruits, they still lack the experience of most defenses in the Conference.
It all starts with linebacker Curtis Bolton, who plays the weak-side spot, and leads the team in tackles, sacks and tackles for loss. His counterparts Mark Jackson (equivalent to ISU’s LEO spot) and Kenneth Murray (manning the middle) are competent and have the speed to contain in pass coverage.
Second Key to Victory – Contain the Pass Rush
The front is led by 330-pound behemoth Neville Gallimore who never misses a meal, and flanking him are Kenneth Mann and Amani Bledsoe. The Sooners gain most of their pressure on edge blitzes from the linebackers, and it has shown, as they corraled EIGHT sacks thus far in two games. ISU needs to flip the script with screen passes and quick hitches to offset the pressure. Look for more tight ends and bowling ball Sam Seonbuchner to stay in and block, helping our tackles.
The secondary starts two freshmen, but are solid. The Sooners have only allowed 223 yards per game through the air, and that is against FAU, coached by Lane Kiffin, and UCLA, coached by Chip Kelly.
Their best version of the Honey Badger is swiss-army-knife nickel-back Brendan Radley-Hiles, a highly touted recruit, and was selected as the Big 12 Preseason Newcomer of the Year.
The Verdict – EVEN
Not much to work off of last week’s collapse in Iowa Chitty. It scares me to say OU has the upper hand in the pass rush, but I have a feeling Campbell and his cronies are putting together a gameplan to combat that. Last year Iowa State thrived on down-field blocking, with bubble screens and David Montgomery in space. The key is for the offensive line to give Noland time to make the throws. I feel confident he can make the plays necessary to move the chains, as well as beat OU downfield on play-action routes.
Iowa State Defense
ISU’s defense will be a top-3 unit in the Big 12, and has the potential to be even better than last year. Led by the most under-rated player in college football, Ray Lima was a force to be reckoned with vs Iowa. The 300-pound junior looked explosive on Saturday, even when blocked by two linemen. I thought the ends did a solid job of outside contain, and probably one of the best out there was Matt Leo. While Oklahoma is known for their passing attack, they are still very balanced. They average an absurd 6.7 yards per carry, and run the ball in a variety of ways.
With Lima eating up space it made true freshman Mike Rose’s day a special one, as #23 was all over the field and did a tremendous job of containing the Iowa rushing attack. Rose has an extra gear and truly has sideline-to-sideline speed. He and the rest of the linebackers will be called upon for extra duty this week, as OU spreads the ball all over the field, and have an X-factor at tight end.
ISU’s secondary will be tested against Murray, and I foresee the same multiple looks it showed versus OU a year ago. The 3-3-5 will be mixed in with a nickel, and even at times a dime package, slowing down the Sooner’s passing efficiency. That means more of DeMonte Ruth, Richard Bowens III, Datrone Young, and Braxton Lewis to fill the voids in the defensive back end.
Third Key to Victory – Bend, Bend, Bend, But Don’t Break
ISU’s starting four are above average and the safeties will be exposed if they bite on play-action. There is no one that does a better job of matching up receivers one-on-one than Lincoln Riley. Hopefully ISU can gain pressure up front, and will have the speed (and bodies) to recover on long throws.
Oklahoma is led by do-it-all Quarterback Kyler Murray, who is a true dual-threat, and has a cannon for an arm.
Murray is also an x-factor with his legs, as he is more slippery than his predecessor Baker Mayfield, and can take it all the way to the house in an instant. A quarterback is only as good as his line play, and OU has one of the best fronts in the business. Led by two 1st Team All-Big 12 performers in Ben Powers and Bobby Evans, the Sooners first five all have at least two years of starts under their belt.
The receivers have reloaded again, and none is more impressive than speedster Marquise Brown. The JUCO transfer has carried the torch of OU receiving greats admirably, leading the Sooners with 221 yards and a ridiculous 22.1 yards per catch. On the other side is someone just as fast, and just as good in CeeDee Lamb. ISU will be forced to help out on both outside receivers, as both run a ton of double-moves and seams in the play-action.
While it seemed a big blow to Sooner Nation that running back Rodney Anderson is out for the year with injury, the next man up is just as good. Sophomore Trey Sermon has the elusiveness and speed to break any run, and is also a tremendous pass-catcher. They will be just fine moving forward, evident by this run below.
OU replaces All-American Tight End Mark Andrews with another stud in Grant Calcaterra, and is a HUGE target when the Sooners get in the red zone.
Verdict – OU
Ya gotta go with the Sooners here. Just too much talent on paper, and too many weapons. The offensive line takes the cake for me, and ISU will not gain much pressure, unless they send blitzes from the corners, which Heacock loves to do on third-downs versus running quarterbacks.
The key to this game will have to be containing the deep pass. There is nothing more back-breaking than a 75-yard bomb that completely changes the makeup of the game. ISU can hold their own up front and the linebackers will have to be flawless tackling in space. It’s the inexperienced safeties I am worried about.
Doing his best Tony Yelk impersonation is Kicker/Punter Austin Seibert, who was not only selected as 1st team All-Big 12 field-goal kicker, but also punter. He is so good that OU’s punt defense has accounted for negative-1 yard on returns. Seibert is a four-year starter and has connected on 77% of his field goals in the crimson and cream.
The kick and punt return units have been on fire. In the FAU game, OU blocked a punt and hit pay-dirt, while in the UCLA game they had both a 66- and 86-yard return.
ISU is still working the kinks out in the kicking game, evident by punter Corey Dunn’s performance in week one. I think the Aussie will bounce back, but the Clones’ kicker is a question mark, as we haven’t seen Connor Assalley attempt much more than an extra point.
Let’s hope kick returner Kene Nwangwu gets a chance to return some kicks, as the sophomore can change the game in an instant.
Verdict – OU by a LANDSLIDE
ISU has too many question marks with their kickers, and OU has one of the best units returning.
Winning Scale from 1 to 10
In the preseason everyone talked about ISU having a good chance of beating Oklahoma again. “Well if they could do it in Norman last year, why not again?” Not that ISU doesn’t have the scheme, talent or game-plan to do so, but beating Oklahoma in back-to-back seasons is like hooking up with a top-12 model back-to-back nights.
Speaking of hot or not, on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being Susan Boyle and 10 Carrie Underwood, I give ISU a Drew-Barrymore-shot at winning.
Oklahoma is polar opposite to Iowa, but ISU is multidimensional enough where they can matchup well against anybody in the country. I foresee a lot more points being scored, and if ISU wants to keep it close they will need to keep Oklahoma below that 28 number going into the fourth quarter.
Remember, the biggest key to everything is the turnover battle. ISU is 10-2 with Campbell at the helm when winning the turnover margin. They are 1-13 when losing or tying it.
ISU winning wouldn’t shock me, but I’m going to have to with my instinct here and pick the Sooners.
Iowa State 27
Let us know your thoughts below
What are ISU’s chances of Winning Versus Oklahoma?
This poll is closed
1 in a Million? So You’re Telling Me There’s A Chance!
I think OU’s Horses are just Too Much to Keep UP
It will be Closer Than Vegas Thinks, but the Sooners will pull er out
F It! Give me the Cyclones!