Offense: Iowa State’s run game has been stagnant for the entirety of conference play. Part of that may be due to the injuries in the backfield, so coming off a bye week, I’ll select running back Jirehl Brock as my player to watch. Oklahoma started the season terrific on the defensive side of the ball, but they’ve drastically fallen on that side of the ball against the Big 12. They’ve given up almost 275 yards per game on the ground in their four conference games, the lowest of which was their most recent outing in Lawrence when they gave up 165.
The Cyclones haven’t had a 100-yard game on the ground as a team yet in conference play. Coming off the bye week, getting players healthy, and getting those extra reps in, this is the time for the run game to get off the ground.
Defense: Conversely, for the Cyclones, I think the big boys down low will be the guys to watch this weekend. I’ve particularly got my eyes on big #3, MJ Anderson. MJ has been a tremendous asset to the Cyclones' defense since coming down from Minnesota, and I expect him to step it up once again this week.
He and Will McDonald will have a huge part to play, and with some much-needed rest and some time to recollect themselves over the bye, I like them to hit the OU front with everything they’ve got.
Offense: This will be the first time the Cyclones have seen Sooners’ quarterback Dillon Gabriel, so he’ll have all 60,000+ pairs of eyes on him in Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, mine included. Gabriel might not be the flashiest of Oklahoma QBs that this Iowa State defense has seen, but man, is he consistent. A 65% completion percentage so far on the season. With 13 touchdowns and just a single interception to add to it, It’ll be up to the Cyclone defense to rattle him and get him out of the groove.
Also, it’ll be a good old fashion battle of the lefty quarterbacks this weekend. Should be a fun back-and-forth battle between the two of them.
Defense: Oklahoma has a lot of talent in the secondary, but unfortunately for them, cornerback Billy Bowman has an injury that it seems could keep him out of action for this weekend. If he’s able to go, keep an eye out for him in the secondary.
If he can’t go, keep an eye on safety Key Lawrence. Cyclone fans may remember that name from the matchup last year in Norman, where he tormented Brock Purdy and the Cyclones’ offense all day long. Finishing the day with 7 total tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble, he was a force to be reckoned with. Oklahoma may need that kind of performance once again in order to keep the Cyclones at bay.