5 Stats that defined the Oklahoma Sooners win vs. the Iowa State Cyclones

·7 min read

The Oklahoma Sooners came away with a huge win on Saturday against the Iowa State Cyclones. Huge in that they found a way to win when their vaunted passing attack was unable to provide much of anything. A week ago at Baylor, the Sooners passing game struggled, but the rest of the team did as well, which is what led to the 13-point loss to Baylor.

This week, the Sooners got a much-needed lift from the defense and the running game that helped propel them to victory over the Iowa State Cyclones.

Though the final score reads 28-21, it was an impressive performance by a defense that’s the healthiest it has been all season and it showed. The Sooners pass rush was fantastic and the coverage didn’t allow Iowa State to beat them down the field like it has in games against Texas, TCU, and Baylor.

Though they didn’t produce a big rushing total, it might have been one of the more impressive performances of the season for the ground game.

As we continue to dig into the Sooners win over Iowa State, here are 5 statistics that were key for the Oklahoma Sooners in their win over the Cyclones.

Turnovers and almost turnovers

Oklahoma’s Key Lawrence (12) forces a fumble as he hits Iowa State’s Brock Purdy (15) during a college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Iowa State Cyclones at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021. Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman.

There was none bigger than the Key Lawrence fumble that led to Jalen Redmond’s return for a touchdown. The Sooners’ defense was flying around on Saturday, taking every opportunity to get after the football.

The Sooners forced three turnovers on the day and came close on several more opportunities. According to College Football Reference, they forced six Iowa State fumbles. Six. That’s an incredible number of potential takeaways against any team, let alone one as good as Iowa State.

On a day when the offense struggled to move the ball much, the defense provided the spark. The seven points they generated were huge, and the three takeaways gave the Oklahoma Sooners offense a chance to find itself.

Under Pressure

Oklahoma’s Nik Bonitto (11) brings down Iowa State’s Brock Purdy (15) during a college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Iowa State Cyclones at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021. Oklahoma won 28-21. Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

Alex Grinch and the Oklahoma Sooners defense kept Brock Purdy and Hunter Dekkers under pressure all game long. According to Pro Football Focus, Iowa State quarterbacks were under pressure on 22 of their 62 dropbacks. That’s a 35% pressure rate. The pressure led to seven sacks, several forced fumbles, and had a hand in both interceptions.

What’s more impressive is that the Sooners collected 34 individual pressures, meaning on several snaps, they had more than one player providing pressure to the Iowa State quarterback.

Even when they weren’t getting home for the sack, the Oklahoma Sooners defense was disruptive. Even when they didn’t appear to get pressure, the threat of it got into Purdy’s head.

On the game’s final offensive play, the Sooners rushed three, and Iowa State had it pretty well blocked. Purdy appeared to have plenty of time as he waited for Chase Allen to leak into the middle of the field. As Allen worked toward the sticks on the fourth and 10, Purdy couldn’t fully step into his throw because Jalen Redmond was pushing the right tackle into Purdy.

Because he can’t step into the throw, the ball sails a bit and is too high for Allen, who tips the ball along with Sooners defensive back Justin Broiles, where it lands in the waiting arms of Pat Fields.

Big Runs Provide the Offense

Nov 20, 2021; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners running back Kennedy Brooks (26) runs as Iowa State Cyclones defensive back Craig McDonald (27) defends during the second half at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Oklahoma Sooners passing game couldn’t find much consistency on Saturday against Iowa State. Caleb Williams was just 8 of 18 on the day and was held to under 90 yards passing for the second week in a row. While it was a difficult day through the air, Williams and the Sooners’ rushing attack responded.

Caleb Williams had the Sooners’ first touchdown, a 74 yarder that provided an early spark and helped the Oklahoma Sooners tie the game at seven apiece in the first quarter. It was an impressive display of speed that allowed Williams to run away from the Iowa State defense on the way to Oklahoma’s longest touchdown of the season.

But it was Kennedy Brooks who carried the day for the Sooners. His third 100-yard rushing day of the season wasn’t easy to come by, but he hit big runs that provided the explosive plays that the Sooners’ offense desperately needed.

Brooks and the offensive line created three runs of 15 yards or more, two of which went for more than 20 yards. The one that didn’t go for 20 yards went for 19. By comparison, the Sooners’ passing game created just one pass play of more than 20 yards on the afternoon.

Kennedy Brooks and Caleb Williams explosive plays on the ground were the key to this game for the Sooners’ offense. Without them, the score would have turned out much differently.

Yards After Contact

Nov 20, 2021; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners running back Kennedy Brooks (26) runs past Iowa State Cyclones linebacker Gerry Vaughn (32) during the game at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Continuing with the running game, Kennedy Brooks made a lot happen on his own. Of his 115 yards rushing, 56 of them came after contact. He averaged 6.8 yards per attempt on the day and 3.29 yards after contact.

Oklahoma’s offensive line did a good job in the running game, which was desperately needed after a few down weeks against Kansas, Texas Tech, and Baylor. And at the same time, Kennedy Brooks made some things happen on his own.

Though it hasn’t always been easy for the Oklahoma Sooners rushing attack in 2021, they remain crucial to the OU offense. Getting Kennedy Brooks going this week against Oklahoma State will be paramount.

Missed Tackles, or Lack There Of

Nov 20, 2021; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners defensive lineman Perrion Winfrey (8) tackles Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Brock Purdy (15) during the first quarter at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Against an elusive quarterback like Brock Purdy, an elite runner like Breece Hall, and a playmaker like Xavier Hutchinson, the Oklahoma Sooners tackling needed to be on point this week. And it was.

The Sooners had one of their best tackling days of the season, missing just six tackles on 89 plays. They’ve missed fewer than 10 tackles in a game just twice this season, and in none of their games did they play as many defensive snaps as they did against Iowa State. Indeed a remarkable performance.

Brock Purdy had an efficient day passing, completing 68% of his passes, but his average depth of target was just 7.9 yards down the field and his yards per attempt just 6.4. Iowa State was looking to get the ball out of Purdy’s hands in the short to intermediate passing game to make plays happen after the catch. The Sooners’ didn’t allow it.

Including the Oklahoma game, Iowa State averages 5.7 yards after the catch per reception on the season. The Oklahoma Sooners held them to 3.5 yards after the catch per reception. Breece Hall averages 2.69 yards after contact per attempt on the 2021 season, and the Sooners held him to 1.56 yards after contact per attempt.

The Sooners’ ability to shut plays down over and over again was as key as the turnovers in this game. A missed tackle at any point against Breece Hall could lead to a touchdown. Allowing receivers to make plays after the catch has killed this team in 2021. They didn’t let the Iowa State Cyclones an opportunity to make plays because of missed tackles.

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