Here we are at the end of the Big 12 football season. Many didn’t think we’d make it here, but we did! The Oklahoma Sooners and Iowa State Cyclones kick off at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday for a Big 12 Championship. Will Iowa State get its first conference title in 108 years? Will Oklahoma make it six Big 12 titles in a row? We will find out.
But here are the staff predictions from Heartland College Sports ahead of Saturday’s action.
Pete Mundo: Oklahoma 38, Iowa State 31
I wrote the “official” Big 12 Championship preview on the site, so some of you may have seen it already.
But for me, Lincoln Riley’s team isn’t just one that’s all about the offense, as it has been in recent seasons. Alex Grinch has the OU defense is playing its 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. This game will come down to Oklahoma’s defensive front having success against Iowa State’s offensive line and negating some of Brock Purdy’s mobility. Also, as good as Iowa State has been on defense, the passing game is the weak link (sixth in the Big 12 in pass defense efficiency). That will end up costing them on a couple of big plays that they won’t be able to overcome. The Sooners will make it six Big 12 titles in a row.
Derek Duke: Oklahoma 31, Iowa State 28
What a game and what a matchup it will be. As crazy as it sounds, I am excited to see some defense in this game due to the two great defensive minds in this game with Iowa State defensive coordinator Jon Heacock and Oklahoma defensive coordinator Alex Grinch. But the key will be in the trenches when Iowa State has the football. Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year Breece Hall has been fantastic this season and has been the engine of the Cyclones offense as Iowa State is averaging nearly 200 rushing yards per game. Meanwhile, Oklahoma has been stout all year against the run allowing just 88.1 yards per game. Keep in mind Oklahoma defensive end Ronnie Perkins did not play in the first matchup in October and you can certainly make a case that he is the best player for the Sooners on both sides of the ball. I am not sure if Breece Hall will have a whole lot of success on the ground and while Iowa State has a good line in front of him, that Oklahoma defensive line is good too. And while Brock Purdy is red hot right now, this defense will be the best he has faced all season, by a mile.
As for Oklahoma’s offense, much like Ronnie Perkins, running back Rhamondre Stevenson did not play in that first matchup either and he is averaging nearly six yards per carry and weighs about 245 pounds. He brings another dimension to the Oklahoma offense that was not there early in the season. Both teams are better than they were back in October and while I think Cyclones will give all the Sooners they can handle, it would be hard for me to go against the reigning five time conference champions and go against Lincoln Riley this late in the season. I’ll go 31-28 as Oklahoma wins its sixth straight Big 12 championship.
Matthew Postins: Oklahoma 33, Iowa State 30
The heart wants to take Iowa State, and why wouldn’t it? The Cyclones haven’t won a league title in more than a century, this is the best team that Matt Campbell has put together and there’s an outside chance that, with a win and some help, that they could make it to the College Football Playoff. But … It’s … Oklahoma. If you want to BE the king, you have to BEAT the king. And the Sooners have won the last five Big 12 titles. And I don’t think the Sooners are done being the king just yet. Oklahoma 33, Iowa State 30.
Dave Beall: Oklahoma 41, Iowa State 28
It’s hard to beat OU. It may be impossible to beat them twice. I was impressed with the Cyclones winning during the regular season match up but Boomer Sooner is 10-0 all time when playing a team a second time in a season. I expect them to be 11-0 Saturday afternoon. OU is a different team than they were in Ames in October. The addition of two key pieces, running back Rhamondre Stevenson and defensive end Ronnie Perkins, added some lore oomph to both sides of the ball.
Iowa State can make it a game, they are loaded with weapons like Breece Hall, Charlie Kolar, and of course Brock Purdy slinging it but I don’t think they can pull off another stunner. Matt Campbell is a fantastic coach but Lincoln Riley is better. Oklahoma teams get better every game under Riley and his staff and they will have a plan to beat ISU’s defense.
Timothy Bailey: Oklahoma 35, Iowa State 21
Oklahoma and Iowa State met in Ames earlier this season. The Cyclones kicked off their campaign that night to getting the #1 seed in the championship game defeating the Sooners 37-30. Oklahoma has since rattled off six consecutive wins. Returning Ronnie Perkins and Rhamondre Stevenson to the line up has changed Oklahoma’s identity on both sides of the ball. Oklahoma will win their sixth consecutive Big 12 Championship Saturday in Arlington 35-21. Oklahoma should be able to get pressure on Brock Purdy all day, and hold Breece Hall somewhat in check. Offensively, Oklahoma is a totally different animal than the one-dimensional team in early October. Iowa State is legit, but Oklahoma is the Big 12. The only thing different this time will be the color of the jersey the players will be wearing on the post game stage holding up their trophy.
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