Here is our Big 12 Championship game preview and prediction with our Oklahoma vs. Iowa State breakdown.
11:00 a.m. CST, Saturday, December 19th, 2020; Arlington, TX, AT&T Stadium
TV: ABC (Sean McDonough, Todd Blackledge, Todd McShay, Allison Williams)
Radio: Sooner Sports Network (Toby Rowland); Cyclone Sports Network (John Walters)
Spread: Oklahoma -5
Fun Fact: Iowa State and Oklahoma have split the last four series meetings (2-2) with ISU owning a +3 scoring advantage (143-140).
RB Rhamondre Stevenson
It would be easy to put quarterback Spencer Rattler in this spot, and there’s no doubt he’s an enormous player on Saturday. But I believe it’s up to the OU running game and Stevenson to get going, which will allow Rattler to settle into the offense in his first Big 12 Championship Game as a freshman. Stevenson missed the first five games due to suspension, but has since helped take OU’s offense to the next level. Stevenson is averaging 95.5 rushing yards (5.9 per carry) over the last four contests and has six rushing TDs.
DE Ronnie Perkins
Perkins is another player who missed the first few games due to suspension. But since his return, he’s played a huge role in Oklahoma’s defense taking that next step. Last season, Perkins had 38 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and six sacks in 13 games. So far in four games played, he has 18 tackles, eight tackles for loss and four sacks. He’s been on an absolute tear and if he declares for the NFL Draft (which is expected), he has worked his way up to a First Round grade.
Iowa State Cyclones
QB Brock Purdy
Once again, RB Breece Hall could be the answer on offense, but for Iowa State, Brock Purdy needs to be efficient in the passing game, while also using his great pocket awareness and mobility to its full effect with the OU defensive line coming down on him. Purdy has averaged 227 passing yards per game, 17 touchdowns and six interceptions, while completing 66% of his passes. He’s also averaging 31 rushing yards per game with four touchdowns. The Cyclones have the third-most efficient passing game in the conference.
LB Mike Rose
Mike Rose is one of the (many) leaders on this defense. He leads the Big 12 with four interceptions and is tied for the most of any linebacker in the country. Plus, those picks come in huge moments, not garbage time. His diving interception against TCU with 3:56 left in the game helped seal the win and against Baylor, Rose intercepted a pass in the end zone with :57 seconds to go and Iowa State up by seven. He’s a veteran who has started all 36 games in his career and also leads the team with 81 tackles. He had a career-high 13 tackles in Iowa State’s big win over Texas on Black Friday, which helped the Cyclones pull off a win that clinched them a berth in the Big 12 Championship game.
So while Oklahoma’s offense has been more of a work in progress than maybe in the last couple of years, it’s still been the most dominant offense in the Big 12. And for Lincoln Riley, that’s the expectations we’ve come to expect from the unit. It’s the most efficient offense in the Big 12 going up against an Iowa State defense that has been really good, but has been weaker against the pass, ranking sixth in the Big 12 in defensive passing efficiency. That means Spencer Rattler, playing in his first Big 12 Title, needs to have himself a day, along with his targets like Austin Stogner, Marvin Mims and Theo Wease.
Iowa State Cyclones
For Iowa State, they need to keep up. I believe Oklahoma is going to score it’s 35+ points in this game on a fast track like AT&T Stadium. OU has averaged 37 points per game in the Big 12 Championship since its return in 2017. A big way for Iowa State to keep up is by slowing down the OU defensive front. This is the match up to watch. Iowa State has given up the fewest sacks in the Big 12, only allowing 10 in 10 games, while the Sooners have 33 sacks in nine games, the most in the conference. Whoever wins this key match up wins the game.
Oklahoma 38, Iowa State 31
This has a chance to be the best Big 12 Championship Game since… last year? In fairness, last year’s game was basically a College Football Playoff play-in game and it went to overtime between Oklahoma and Baylor, with the Bears riding a third-string QB to a potential win. But still, this game is so evenly matched between not just the two hottest teams in the Big 12, but two of the hottest teams in the country.
With all this being said, my heart says the Cyclones, but my head says the Sooners. That’s not because I am an Iowa State fan, I’m not, as you all know — but this is a program who hasn’t won a conference title in 108 years. Oklahoma has won five in a row.
Despite all of that, Lincoln Riley’s team isn’t just one that’s all about the offense. It’s not. Alex Grinch has the OU defense playing it’s best football in a decade. That’s how good that side of the ball has been for the Sooners. Also, OU avoided having to make a road trip to and from Morgantown last weekend due to COVID-19 issues. That wears any team down. They’ll be just as rested, are more talented, get to play on a fast track in a perfect environment, and the team and program has more experience in the game. I’ll roll with the Sooners in a 38-31 win.
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