After a much-needed week off of rest, the No. 3 Oklahoma Sooners will resume their march to a Big 12 championship match Saturday when OU hosts Iowa State in Norman.
That game will kick off at 11 a.m. and will be broadcast on FOX. Iowa State lost at home to Texas, 7-17, last Thursday night.
Before the bye week, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield was the highest rated quarterback in the nation with a rating of 228.3. Mason Rudolph of Oklahoma State was No. 2 with a rating of 189.4.
Mayfield was also No. 1 in the average yardage per pass, 13.2 yards. Again, that week, Rudolph was No. 2, averaging 11.4 yards.
After the Baylor win on September 23, Mayfield was No. 9 in the nation with 1,329 total passing yards plus 13 touchdowns and no interceptions. That’s no interceptions with 101 attempts.
His TD total is third in the nation.
Percentage-wise, Mayfield is No. 3 at 74.2 percent – behind Kyle Allen of Houston (76.9) and Dalton Sturm of UTSA (76.1).
OU coach Lincoln Riley said the bye week came at a good time after five weeks of preseason drills and four tough games. And it feels good to be 1-0 in the Big 12.
“I do think it is a positive,” Riley said. “I think it evens the playing field. And I think this is a positive time, I know at least for our team, it’s a positive time for a bye week right now. We’ve got that first Big 12 under our belt and a difficult nonconference schedule. So it’s a chance to regroup and get some guys back healthy, but then it makes the Big 12 season challenging.”
No college team dominates conference foes every week.
“You’re going to play good teams each week,” Riley said. “You’re going to have people get hurt or get banged up, and then you’re going to have to rely on your depth and other guys are going to have to step up. And that’s part of the definition of having a great team. I think it’s positive, and I’m excited about that and having the championship game back.”
The tight score was a combination of a handful of OU errors and some outstanding plays by Baylor.
“There were definitely some common factors,” Riley said. “There was a couple that they just made. A couple that their quarterback and receivers just made, either just an outstanding throw or just a couple outstanding individual plays by receivers that were pretty well-defended. But we had several throughout the night that our eyes got in the wrong place or we came off our man trying to make a play.
“Several were self-inflicted, where we at least have had a much better chance to be there and a chance to make a play ourselves. We’ve got to grow from that. We’ve got to want to make plays, but we’ve got to do it within the context of what we’ve got going schematically.”
OU’s passing game behind Mayfield has been outstanding but the running game was huge in the win over Baylor. OU outrushed Baylor 342-60 yards. Sophomore running back Abdul Adams carried 11 times for 164 yards – including a record-setting 99-yard touchdown run – while true freshman Trey Sermon got 150 yards on 12 carries with two scores. And Sermon only played in the pivotal fourth quarter.
“They are better players,” Riley said. “They are more in sync with what we are doing up front. There has to be a lot of trust and those guys have got to be on the same page, that is our backs and our offensive line. I think that is growing. There’s no doubt we’ve got the ability.
“And I think our trust in them as coaches and our ability to know how to use them, what they are best at and to continue to develop them – that’s all kind of a work in progress.
“We feel like we will have a chance to run the ball against people. We’ve got a good offensive line and good backs but you’ve got to make it all work together. I think we are heading in the right direction but we still have a long ways to go and a lot of room for improvement.”
Here is some of what OU accomplished with the 49-41 win at Baylor:
- They extended their nation-leading winning streak to 14 games (tied for seventh longest in program history). They’re averaging 46.9 points during the streak and have scored at least 30 points in each of those victories (a school record).
- They have now won 17 straight Big 12 games (tied for the longest streak in school history), 13 straight true road games (third longest in school history) and 11 straight conference road games (a school record and second longest in Big 12 history to Texas’ 13 straight from 2003-06).
- The Baylor game marked 371 days since OU’s last loss (vs. Ohio State on Sept. 17, 2016) and 714 days since its last Big 12 defeat (vs. Texas on Oct. 10, 2015).
- The Sooners are now 16-5 (.762) all-time in Big 12 road openers and have won seven straight.
- The Baylor game marked the sixth straight in which the Sooners did not throw an interception. The last time OU went six consecutive games without throwing an interception was 1986, when it went seven straight games.
- The Sooners are 24-3 all-time against Baylor, including a 12-2 mark in Waco and have won three straight in the series.
Iowa State comes into Norman with a 2-2 record. The Cyclones beat Northern Iowa and Akron but lost to in-state rival Iowa and fell to Texas in Ames.
ISU coach Matt Campbell was 3-9 (2-7 in the Big 12) in his first season in 2015 and 3-9 last season, including a big upset win over Texas Tech in 2016.
Last year against ISU, Mayfield passed for 328 yards and four touchdowns in a tougher-than-expected 34-24 win at Iowa State in a rare Thursday night game.
Mayfield had touchdown passes to fullback Dimitri Flowers and former Sooner Dede Westbrook. Flowers finished with 149 yards of total offense, a career high. He rushed 22 times for 115 yards and added a receiving touchdown for the third consecutive game.
OU improved to 74-5-2 (.926) all-time against Iowa State and is 35-2-1 (.934) vs. the Cyclones in Ames. In the Big 12 era, the Sooners hold a 13-0 series advantage (6-0 in Ames). Oklahoma has won 23 consecutive games at Iowa State and 34 of the last 35 (ISU’s two home wins came in 1960 and 1928 [series first meeting]).
Former OU coach Bob Stoops ended his career 12-0 vs. the Cyclones, with each game being decided by double digits. OU has outscored ISU the previous four years by a combined 193-64 margin. In six road games against Iowa State in the Stoops era, the Sooners have outscored the Cyclones 229-82 (average of 38-13). OU has given up 14 or fewer points in four of those six contests.
Oklahoma has won 18 straight games against Iowa State – OU’s longest active winning streak versus an opponent.
Iowa State managed just 160 yards passing last year against OU. The Sooners held Iowa State to just 290 yards of total offense, more than 100 yards below ISU’s average coming into the game (392.8).
Last Thursday night, the Texas (2-2, 1-0 in the Big 12) defense held ISU (2-2, 0-1) to a measly 10 yards rushing but the Cyclone defense kept the Longhorns at a season-low 17 points. Texas forced three turnovers that turned into 10 points. Joel Lanning led the Cyclones with a career-high 20 tackles.