After both teams came out of a much-needed bye week, it was the Oklahoma Sooners who got the second half of their season started with a win, taking down Iowa State 27-13 in Ames on Saturday afternoon.
In a tough-fought defensive struggle, the Sooners maligned defense looked better against a struggling Cyclones offense, while Jeff Lebby’s offense did just enough to get past Jon Heacock’s defensive scheme.
Here are three thoughts on the game and what it means for both teams going forward.
Oklahoma Defense Finally Shows Up
Oklahoma’s defense was on a streak coming into this game, and not the kind that you want to see if you follow the Sooners. OU had surrendered over 40 points in each of its last four games, going 1-3 in that stretch. Today, Brent Venables’ squad showed signs of life defensively and held Iowa State to just 13 points and 378 total yards. The Cyclones were only able to manage 66 yards on the ground, which ultimately proved their demise, as they became one-dimensional offensively and never truly got into rhythm. The Sooners’ defense also forced three turnovers, all interceptions, including a huge interception and 37-yard return from Danny Stutsman that set the Sooners up with a 1st-and-Goal, which they turned into seven points, giving Oklahoma a 27-13 lead that they never relinquished.
Iowa State Mistakes Cost Them the Game
There were several mistakes from Iowa State today that ultimately cost them the football game. For starters, Hunter Dekkers was not smart with the football today and his three interceptions were costly for the Cyclones. An errant snap in the first half, several negative plays, and untimely penalties were also drive-killers for Iowa State and it ultimately kept them from ever seizing control of the game. There were several times in the contest when it felt like Iowa State was going to take the game over, but it was never able to get out of its own way. Oklahoma deserves all the credit in the world for coming into a hostile environment and making it difficult on Iowa State today, but the Cyclones sure didn’t help themselves.
Oklahoma Special Teams Made the Difference
In a defensive struggle, it is often one or two plays from special teams that gives one team separation, and that was what Oklahoma did on Saturday. Oklahoma punter Michael Turk had six punts on the day, averaging 49.3 yards per punt, but had two downed inside the 20-yard line and a long of 61 yards. However, his biggest play of the day wasn’t as a punter, but as the placeholder for a “field goal” try. For the first touchdown of the day, Turk took the snap and flipped it to kicker Zach Schmidt (2/2 on FGs) who ran it in for a two-yard touchdown to make it 10-3 in the second quarter.
Schmidt was responsible for 15 of Oklahoma’s 27 points on the day, and none were bigger than the six that gave Oklahoma its first lead of the day.