Here is everything you need to know about the upcoming Big 12 game in our Iowa State vs. Oklahoma preview and prediction.
11 a.m. Central Time, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, Iowa
TV: ABC (Dave Pasch, Greg McElroy, Tom Luginbill)
Radio: Sooner Sports Network; Cyclone Radio Network/Learfield Sports; Sirius 99/XM 200
Fun Fact: OU lost last season in Norman, but leads the all-time series vs. ISU at 74-6-2. The Sooners are 36-2-1 vs. the Cyclones in games played in Ames. ISU’s last win over Oklahoma in Ames was a 10-6 victory in 1960, as the Sooners have won 23-straight games in Ames. OU’s 91.5% winning percentage is the best of any team in the country against an opponent with a minimum of 50 games played.
QB Kyler Murray
Is this the first real test Murray gets this season? It’s certainly the best defense he will have faced over his first three weeks by a wide margin. Murray will have to carry even more of the load, especially even against the running game, with the loss of Rodney Anderson to a season-ending injury against UCLA. Murray did not look as good in Week 2 (19/33, three TD, one INT) as he did against FAU (9/11, two touchdowns), but how he handles this road test will give us a better insight into what OU has at the position and whether or not Murray is a legit Heisman contender.
LB Curtis Bolton
Bolton gets overlooked sometimes in this unit since he plays alongside Kenneth Murray, Caleb Kelly and others. But it’s Bolton who is coming off his Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week nomination. The senior finished with career highs of eight tackles. 2.0 TFLs and 1.5 sacks. Bolton has been a key piece thus far to the defense’s success.
Who’s at QB?
Can Kyle Kempt play or not? He’s day-to-day with a knee injury that caused him to leave last week’s loss against Iowa. Zeb Noland struggled in relief finishing 4 of 10 for 43 yards. Noland played sparingly last season, but did win a game as a starter against Baylor when he went 14 of 28 for 180 yards and two touchdowns. If he gets the call, he’ll need the game of his life on Saturday.
LB Willie Harvey
Iowa State’s defensive line against OU’s offensive line is going to be fun to watch, but if Iowa State is going to hold the OU offense in relative check, a lot of the burden will fall on the linebackers. Last week, Harvey had nine tackles and .5 TFL and is Iowa State’s active leader with 22.5 TFLs. He’s a veteran who has been around this program a very long time and won’t be intimidated by the big moment.
Regardless of who is at quarterback, OU needs to take advantage of what was a shaky Iowa State offensive line last week against Iowa. The Cyclones had a total of 19 rushing yards. If that’s the case this week, OU will roll. The Sooners have been getting to the QB and in the backfield at an impressive rate thus far. It’s early, but the Sooners have racked up eight sacks to rank seventh nationally and 21 tackles for loss to rank sixth in the country. Last year OU averaged 1.9 sacks and 5.4 TFLs per contest. The eight sacks this season have come from seven players, showing the depth of the unit. Also, Kyler Murray needs to let it fly again to the likes of CeeDee Lamb and Marquise Brown. Iowa State is strong in the secondary, but if Murray has himself an accurate day it will spread the field and won’t allow Iowa State to focus as heavily on stopping the run.
If the Cyclones are going to have a chance, they have to play a very clean game. Iowa State has done that under Matt Campbell, with just two lost fumbles in their last 978 offensive plays from scrimmage and Kyle Kempt has a string of 151-straight passes without an interception, five shy of the school record. That’s first and foremost. After that, the Cyclones have to figure out how to keep OU’s running game in check. The Sooners, even without Anderson, have one of the most explosive ground attacks in the country and most don’t realize Lincoln Riley has been running the ball more than passing dating back to his start in Norman. Iowa State ranked fourth in the Big 12 last season in rushing yards allowed per game, but did only give up 105 on the ground last week against an Iowa team that wants to pound the rock. Stopping the run and forcing Kyler Murray to beat you through the air is the way to go. Iowa State has a great stable of cornerbacks that Matt Campbell should feel comfortable enough to leave on an island to stack the box, but it’s easier said than done.
Prediction: OU 41, Iowa State 17. I don’t see how Iowa State has the offensive horses to keep up with OU. And here’s the problem, Iowa State’s defense is really good, but I don’t see its offense giving it enough time to rest in between drives. You can’t have your defense on the field every few minutes against this OU offense and expect it to continue to hold up for four quarters. Also unlike last season when Iowa State scored 38 points, that won’t happen this year. ISU has offensive line problems, the quarterback situation is in question, OU is much stronger on defense than a year ago … oh and there is the revenge factor from last season.
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