3 offensive keys for the Oklahoma Sooners vs. the Iowa State Cyclones

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Oklahoma returns home to play host to Iowa State. Before the season, many had this matchup pegged as a potential Big 12 championship game preview.

At 6-4 overall and 4-3 in Big 12 play, Iowa State has fallen short of expectations. While the Cyclones could still get into the Big 12 championship game under two different scenarios, the likely case is that Iowa State has already played its way out of a return trip to Arlington, Texas.

Still, on paper Oklahoma is in for another challenge against an Iowa State defense that is one of the best they’ve seen. The Cyclones rank No. 10 nationally in total defense. Let’s take a look at several of the keys for the Sooners to find offensive success.

Up First: Playing at the Palace

Home sweet home

It’s probably not this simple, but Oklahoma can take solace in the fact that going into this matchup its true freshman starting quarterback has been marvelous in a pair of home starts.

In home wins over TCU and Texas Tech, Caleb Williams completed 41-of-53 passes for 697 yards and 10 touchdowns with no interceptions in the two games combined. He also ran in a 41-yard touchdown against the Horned Frogs.

Again, Iowa State defensively is a far cry from either TCU or Texas Tech, but there is a home track record for Williams that OU can feel comfortable about.

The Cyclones boast the nation’s No. 23 passing defense. It will be the highest-rated group that Williams has seen to date.

Williams had his worst start of the season this past Saturday against Baylor. The Bears forced Williams into a pair of interceptions and held him to just 9-of-18 passing for 142 yards.

Oklahoma head football coach Lincoln Riley said earlier this week that Williams’ confidence wasn’t shaken from his outing in Waco.

“I think if you’re confident in what you do, then just because you don’t get the result that you want one time, that doesn’t change that if you’re truly confident in who you are and you truly believe in what you do, the people around you, the way you work. Confidence can’t be circumstantial. You either believe or you don’t. I believe I’ve got a room of guys that believe in themselves and believe in what they’re doing,” Riley said.

Up Next: Get Back to the Ground

Establish the running game

Since rumbling for 153 rushing yards on 20 totes against TCU, redshirt junior running back Kennedy Brooks and Oklahoma’s running game has been bottled up for the most part.

Brooks rushed 24 times for 79 yards at Kansas and then carried it just eight times for 35 yards against Texas Tech. Brooks was the Sooners’ leading rusher last week against Baylor as he finished with 14 carries for 55 yards.

It doesn’t get easier this week. Iowa State is No. 18 nationally in rushing defense, surrendering 112.4 rushing yards per game. However difficult the task, it’s imperative for Oklahoma that it finds a way to run the ball successfully.

“They’re a strong defense. They’re a great team. They’ve always got great run fits. It’s going to be a battle up front, man. Whoever runs the ball this game is going to win the game. That’s what it always comes down to at the end of it every time I’ve played them. It’s going to be a very physical game, but we can do it. It’s something that we’ve done before and we can do it again,” Brooks said.

Up Next: Play your Playmaker

Unleash Super Mario

According to Pro Football Focus, freshman wide receiver Mario Williams saw just 10 snaps of the 57 offensive plays Oklahoma ran against Baylor. Assuming he’s healthy, that’s not enough.

Keep in mind, Williams had just turned in his finest performance of the season in Oklahoma’s previous game. Against Texas Tech, Williams had five receptions for 100 yards and a 22-yard touchdown grab.

The Sooners’ offense also sputtered in the first half against Kansas and that was a day Oklahoma was without both senior wide out Michael Woods and Williams.

It’s becoming clear that this Oklahoma offense is at its best when Williams plays and plays well.

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