Iowa State (4-5, 1-5) at Oklahoma State (6-3,3-3)
Date: November 12th, 2022
Time: 2:30 PM
Place: Boone Pickens Stadium
Line: Iowa State -1.5
When we last left off...
After what felt like centuries, your Iowa State Cyclone football team got a win last weekend in dominating fashion, positively obliterating the West Virginia Mountaineers by a 31-14 scoreline, which appears far closer than the game actually was. The offense looked much better amassing 172 rush yards behind the efforts of Cartevious Norton and Deon Silas, which paired up nicely with a very efficient passing day from Hunter Dekkers.
Needless to say, the defense was also spectacular, allowing just three yards (!!!) in the second half until one final drive by West Virginia against the farthest reaches of the Iowa State defensive depth chart. Jon Heacock continues to turn in maybe the most impressive performance of his tenure at Iowa State.
Oklahoma State Tidbits
After a white-hot start to the season and a top-ten ranking in the AP Poll, the Cowboys have dropped three of the last four, ceding at least 34 points in all four games and losing to Kansas State and Kansas the past two weeks by a combined scored of 85-16. The culprit: injuries. Oklahoma State currently has at least five starters on offense, including quarterback Spencer Sanders (though he is questionable for Saturday), out with injury, and another three backups.
Oklahoma State owns the all-time series 33-20-3, but the two teams have split the last four meetings, and each game since 2015 has been decided by a touchdown or less. Without a doubt, this has been the most competitive and exciting conference matchup in the Big 12 for most of the last decade.
Iowa State Offense
After struggling for most of the season, we finally saw the first signs of some real, sustainable life from the Iowa State offense. The most notable improvement came in the running game, where some offensive creativity gave the good guys a spark. A reverse to Jaylin Noel did go for 27 yards, but the most notable change was the addition of a handful of old-school speed option plays, all of which were executed almost flawlessly by Hunter Dekkers and Cartevious Norton. Those options could be an extremely useful wrinkle to throw into the offensive mix and get the playmakers out on the edge in space.
Dekkers was also very efficient in the passing game, finishing the game 24-of-36 passing with 219 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Undoubtedly aided by a successful running game last weekend, Dekkers has continued to look more and more comfortable each week, and it seems like staff has started to hone in on a gameplan that fits his skill set better than what appeared to be an attempt to shoehorn him into what was essentially Brock Purdy’s offense at the beginning of the season.
Oklahoma State Defense
As mentioned before, this Cowboy defense is really struggling. After a 48-0 beatdown at the hands of Kansas State and a 37-16 loss to Kansas, the Oklahoma State is left looking for answers. Aside from their very impressive 5th-ranked 3rd down conversion prevention rate, the defense ranks near the bottom of college football in opponent yards and points per play, yards per carry, interception rate, and sack rate.
The Cowboys do still use a three-down set as their base defense, but will mix in a more traditional four-down look on occasion. This defense has been prone to giving up some big plays in the run game, especially on early downs when they’re most vulnerable. Kansas’ Jason Bean was able to gash Oklahoma State repeatedly on read option plays, so expect Iowa State utilize some read-option and those speed options from last week to throw the OSU defense off-balance and try to get ahead of the sticks on early downs.
Verdict - Iowa State....I think?
This is purely based on a projection that Iowa State will build on the success from last game and continue to improve on offense against another struggling defense. If the Cyclones can find a successful running game early on, they have a chance to put up some good numbers provided Hunter Dekkers continues to improve and be efficient.
However, we also thought the offense would build on the moderate success they saw against Texas, but even with the bye week to make adjustments, the offense went back to its old ways against Oklahoma and was very bad. That said, I do think there is a better chance we actually see growth this time around.
The offensive success against Texas didn’t really feature anything new schematically and was maybe a product of a specific vulnerability the staff identified in the film room, but we saw some legitimately new concepts against West Virginia that worked, and I think they’ll build on those.
Iowa State Defense
At this point, I feel like a broken record, destined to rave about this defense until the sun eventually runs out of hydrogen and Earth becomes a Hoth-like ice planet devoid of all life. After giving up 122 yards and a single touchdown from a very obvious offensive pass interference that wasn’t called in the first-half, Jon Heacock decided he was having absolutely none of this “moving the ball or doing anything of substance” nonsense.
In the second half, the defensive starters gave up a whopping three yards of offense until coming out of the game most of the way through the fourth quarter. Three yards. Three. Most of us walk further on a single trip from the couch to the fridge than West Virginia was able to accumulate in offensive yardage on twelve plays against the starting Iowa State defense in the second half. The other part of that stat that’s amazing is that the Mountaineers only ran 12 offensive plays between coming out of the locker room at halftime and when the clock showed just 3:52 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Oklahoma State Offense
Easily the strongest unit on the team, the Cowboy offense has spent most of the season flying up and down the field, scoring 40+ points in five of the first seven games. However, injuries have piled up, and an injury suffered by veteran quarterback Spencer Sanders has left OSU depleted. Freshman Garret Rangel made the spot start last week against, finishing a solid 27-of-42 passing for a 304 yards and two touchdowns, but his three interceptions overshadowed any of his positive gains and gave Kansas’ offense a bunch of extra opportunities.
With Sanders’ status still up in the air, it seems as though we’ll have to assume Rangel will get a second start. If that’s the case, the Cowboys will be heavily reliant on running back Dominic Richardson and WR Brennan Presley to power the offense, which could prove to be an uphill battle.
Verdict - Iowa State by a mile
If the Oklahoma State offense was fully healthy, this would be a much closer contest, but Iowa State’s defense is just too damn good, and the Pokes are far too banged up. Even if Spencer Sanders is healthy enough to play on Saturday, I just don’t envision any scenario where Oklahoma State is able to come close to their season scoring average.
Iowa State’s special teams had another rough day last weekend, with Jace Gilbert missing a field goal and Jaylin Noel repeatedly struggling to field the rugby-style punts. This seems like something we’re just going to have to deal with and hope and pray that it doesn’t come back to bite us.
In contrast, Oklahoma State’s kicker is a Groza semifinalist, and Gundy’s group is typically very solid on special teams.
Verdict - Oklahoma State
The beatings will continue until morale improves.
Winning Scale from 1 to 10
On a scale of tailgating weather ranging from a -20 windchill with snow to a sunny October day in the high-50s, I’d give us a late September day in the high 80s with some early morning showers that clear off mid-morning shot of winning.
Much like most of this season, whether or not Iowa State wins this game depends entirely on the success of the Cyclone offense, specifically its ability to establish an effective running game to balance out the attack and allow Hunter to be more effective in the passing game. Simple as that. If they put together a half-decent running game, Iowa State probably wins. If they don’t, it’s probably something like a 13-10 game and nobody has any fun.
Iowa State - 21
Oklahoma State - 10