After swamping Kansas 62-7 in Lawrence, No. 14 Oklahoma is supposed to have an easy time with Iowa State at home before facing the top teams in the Big 12 – Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State – in a row to finish the regular season.
But Texas beat Oklahoma in early October and on Saturday Iowa State shut out the Longhorns 24-0.
An OU victory over Iowa State Saturday in Norman may not be so easy.
ISU has won only three games (Texas, lowly Kansas and Northern Iowa) but their losses have come against No. 16 Iowa, No. 20 Toledo (in double overtime), No. 5 TCU, No. 2 Baylor and Texas Tech.
The records of the teams that have beat Iowa State are 33-3.
Iowa State held the inept Texas offense to 204 yards. The Longhorns crossed the 50-yard line into Cyclone territory only twice all night. The ISU offense outgained Texas 223-98 yards in the first half. Texas had only 85 passing yards and converted only 2 of 13 third downs.
Iowa State had 92 offensive plays while Texas had just 54.
Iowa State has a habit of upsetting really good teams.
In 2014, ISU went 2-10 but those two wins were against Iowa and Toledo.
In 2013, ISU was 3-9 but ended the season with a 52-44 upset win over West Virginia in Morgantown in triple overtime.
In 2012, Iowa State beat both TCU and Baylor while going 6-7 (with a loss to Tulsa in the Liberty Bowl).
In 2011, Iowa State knocked Oklahoma State out of a shot at national championship with a 37-31 double overtime win in Ames. Again, ISU was 6-7 with a loss to Rutgers in a bowl game.
In 2010, ISU beat Texas in Austin and Texas Tech in Ames. The Cyclones were 5-7 that year.
In 2009, Iowa State made national headlines by beating Nebraska in Lincoln 9-7. They went 7-6 that season because they beat Minnesota in a bowl game.
Last year, Oklahoma clobbered Kansas behind the record setting rushing of true freshman Samaje Perine. Last Saturday, OU quarterback Baker Mayfield and wideout Sterling Shepard dominated the winless Jayhawks.
Mayfield’s 332 first half passing yards were the most allowed by a Kansas defense in the opening half since Bryce Petty totaled 348 yards through the air in the opening 30 minutes in 2013.
Shepard’s 174 receiving yards in the first half were the most by an opposing pass catcher in a single half since Missouri wide receiver Dana Alexander recorded 203 receiving yards in the second half of the Border Showdown in 2009.
“(We) did a great job running the ball, so you have no choice but to load the box because you have to stop (Samaje) Perine and Joe Mixon,” Shepard said. “It definitely helps us wideouts a lot and we have to continue to win one-on-one battles and make competitive catches. I feel like the guys did a great job of that today.”
After scoring more than 50 points in the three victories after the Texas loss, Shepard thinks the offense is hitting its stride.
“I feel like we are putting things together,” Shepard said. “Things are starting to gel and we are just continuing to build each and every week. During practice, guys are focused and that’s the main thing I see out of this group of guys. That is something we have to continue to do.”
Having the offense and the defense play so well builds confidence.
“We’re pretty confident but the guys have an attitude that we have to continue to get better,” said Shepard. “We’re not at the spot that we want to be. We know that we can be better and still see some things that we can fine-tune. As good as it’s looking, it can look better.”
Mayfield only played midway through the third quarter but threw four touchdown passes (and no interceptions). He finished 27-of-32 for a completion percentage of 84 percent. The last time an opposing quarterback completed more than 80 percent of his passes occurred when No. 16 Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch was 22-of-25 (88 percent) this year.
Lynch is a top candidate for the Heisman Trophy this year.
Perine had 91 yards on 11 carries while Alex Ross had 103 yards on 14 carries late in the second half.
Kansas coach David Beaty hinted that the Jayhawks were determined to stop the OU running attack but were overcome by the passing.
“Well, I think they saw some things obviously that they could exploit with the passing game,” Beaty said. “They threw for 445 yards against us, which was the bulk of what they did.
“They’re a really good run team. That was something you really had to keep your eye on as you started the game out.”
Beaty thought his defense played well against Mayfield – at least for awhile.
“You know, early I was encouraged,” Beaty said.
“It looked like we were creating some pressure on him. He was able to duck under some things and create some extended plays, which I’ve watched him since he was at the other place (Texas Tech) he was at. He can do some things with his feet.
“We’ve got to be able to get him down there. There were a couple times we were close, had our hands on him. We weren’t able to get him down. He’s a slippery guy, no doubt about that. I think he found some efficiency in the passing game today that he had not enjoyed up to that point, at least to that rate. He’s a good player.
“He understands Lincoln’s (Riley) offense. You can tell. He was very comfortable out there with the way he was communicating with his guys, putting people in the right spots. I know the system. I have an idea where he’s putting people. The kid knows what he’s doing. He’s been trained well. I can see why he won the job.”
The Sooners’ 710 yards were the most by an opposing team since Baylor had 743 yards in 2013. Oklahoma’s 466 yards of total offense in the opening half were the most since Baylor recorded 505 yards in 2013.
Freshman kicker Austin Seibert missed a 31-yard field goal attempt – his second miss in a row after not missing a single field goal attempt or extra point all season. He later hit a 46-yard field goal but was replaced in the second half by Nick Hodgson, who hit a 32-yard field goal.
“Defensively, I thought we were outstanding, the only points we surrendered were off of the real short field after the muffed punt but even then, we thought we had them on third down,” said OU coach Bob Stoops. “Our defensive back just misjudged the throw a little bit and they caught it and scored but you know, that’s going to happen.
“They were excellent… the only points that they surrendered were off of the short field. In fact, I don’t think they were in the red zone after that, so they played great. I thought our guys up front were very disruptive and across the board they tackled and executed well.”
OU cornerback Dakota Austin said the Sooners are getting ready for the stretch run.
“Practice has been getting more intense anyways because November is about to be a tough month,” Austin said. “We just want to build more depth at every position and if anyone goes down, we know that good guys are coming in.”
He was pleased with the results against Kansas, even though he was beat on the Jayhawk’s lone touchdown.
“Other than my touchdown, I think we did pretty good,” Austin said. “We were pretty solid, it wasn’t just a great opponent but it was more about us today and we played great as a unit. We played a great game. There’s always areas to improve and we are getting better in some of the smaller areas, that will be big for us come November.”
Oklahoma now owns a 73-27-6 all-time record against Kansas and improved to 35-15-4 in Lawrence.