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On a day when the Oklahoma Sooners offense couldn’t do much through the air — again — the Sooners did what they needed to in order to secure their 10th win of the season and move one step closer to securing a berth in the Big 12 championship game.
It was an impressive performance for the defense who played in Brock Purdy’s face all game long and the running game found its footing after several weeks of underwhelming performances against Kansas, Texas Tech, and Baylor.
Though Caleb Williams and the passing game struggled, he made a difference with his legs on the Sooners’ first score of the game, taking the ball 74 yards for the touchdown. Kennedy Brooks provided a fantastic lead block that sprung to go the distance for the score.
Turn on the 𝘣𝘶𝘳𝘯𝘦𝘳𝘴 @CALEBcsw‼️
— Oklahoma Football (@OU_Football) November 20, 2021
The Sooners won their seventh one-score game of the season, which is an impressive feat. Though impressive in some areas, there are some things they need to work on before heading to Stillwater next Saturday for Bedlam. But before we get to that, let’s take a look at some instant takeaways from the Sooners 28-21 win over Iowa State.
Defense Came to Play
The most impressive performance today was by the defense. They showed up in a big way, harassing Brock Purdy and limiting the impact of Breece Hall on a day when the Oklahoma Sooners offense once again laid an egg.
In total, the Sooners got to Iowa State quarterbacks for seven sacks and forced three turnovers, including the game sealing interception by safety Pat Fields.
Time of possession and the yardage totals will favor Iowa State in this game, but the Sooners won the pressure and turnover battles, which ultimately decided the game.
Turnovers the Difference
Iowa State picked up 10 more first downs than the Sooners. The Sooners allowed the Cyclones to go five of seven on fourth down after holding them to 4-18 on third down. The Cyclones gained 56 more yards than the Sooners.
Turnovers were the difference.
Oklahoma was +2 in the turnover column. The Sooners picked off Brock Purdy and Hunter Dekkers, and Key Lawrence’s forced fumble led to a Jalen Redmond fumble return for a touchdown that gave the Sooners their first lead of the game and they never looked back.
On a day when Brock Purdy was playing pretty well, outplaying Caleb Williams in fact, the pressure turned up by the defense forced Purdy into costly errors.
Running Game Comes to Life in Key Moment
The only good thing for the Oklahoma Sooners offense against Iowa State was the running game. Kennedy Brooks and the offensive line came through late in the fourth quarter on a drive that turned out to be the difference in the game.
With Oklahoma getting the ball after an Iowa State punt, the Sooners drove the field in six plays led by 43 yards rushing by Kennedy Brooks. The drive ended on a seven-yard run by Eric Gray to put the Sooners ahead 28-14 with just over five minutes to go.
Though Iowa State would bring the game within one score and then threaten on the final drive of the game, that was a huge drive by the Sooners offense to make it a two score game late in the fourth quarter.
The running game had been absent in previous weeks, but the Sooners ran for 200 yards as a team and provided the only consistent offense Oklahoma would see on the day.
Passing Game got Left in Lubbock
Since throwing for 402 yards and six touchdowns against Texas Tech, Caleb Williams and the Oklahoma Sooners passing attack has been largely held in check. They haven’t been able to do anything with much consistency the last two weeks against Baylor and Iowa State.
Williams has now thrown for just 229 yards on 17 of 36 passing with one touchdown and three interceptions. He’s not playing well at the moment and that’s something that Lincoln Riley and the coaching staff need to dig deeper into heading into next week’s matchup with Oklahoma State.
To Williams credit, he did have a big 74 yard touchdown run to open the scoring for the Sooners.
The Sooners have to figure out their passing game. They might be able to get another defensive performance like this, but
Special Teams Struggles Again
The Oklahoma Sooners found a way to win while two of the three phases struggled. We’ve talked about the offense, but the special teams struggled. In particular, it was a rough one for Gabe Brkic who missed another field goal in this game.
Then, in the fourth quarter with the Sooners up 21-7 and Iowa State facing a fourth down, lined up to punt. Unaware that Iowa State might fake it at a point in the game where they desperately needed a score, the Sooners were fooled by the Cyclones fake punt. That big play led to a Cyclones touchdown bringing the game within seven points and putting the Sooners hold on the contest in a tenuous position.
The Sooners also fumbled a punt and a kickoff return. Though they wouldn’t lead to turnovers, they were certainly moments that could have turned the course of the game had Iowa State been able to recover.
The Sooners have to figure out what’s going on with their special teams play. It’s hurt Oklahoma far more than it’s helped them the last two weeks.
Senior Seals It
On senior day in front of a capacity crowd in Norman, OK, it was senior Pat Fields who sealed the game for the Oklahoma Sooners.
On fourth and 10 and Iowa State having driven to the Sooners 21-yard line, Cyclones’ quarterback Brock Purdy dropped back to pass. With time, he navigated the pocket before letting it loose over the middle. The throw was too high for his intended target who tipped the ball high in the air and Fields was there to haul it in.
It was a fitting end to the final home game for Fields and the other Sooners’ seniors who were honored in pregame festivities.
Breece Hall Bottled Up
One of the key matchups heading into this week’s matchup with Iowa State was how the Sooners defense would deal with Cyclones running back Breece Hall. After getting gashed a week ago by the Baylor Bears rushing attack, it was paramount for the Oklahoma Sooners to slow down Hall. And they answered the call.
Breece Hall, one of the best running backs in the country and destined to be drafted in the first three rounds of the NFL draft once he declares, was held to 58 yards rushing on 19 attempts.
Though Brock Purdy had an efficient day passing and Charlie Kolar killed the Sooners once again, they didn’t allow Breece Hall to eat them up for chunk plays. It was an excellent effort by the defense to keep Hall in check all game long.
Key Lawrence has a bounce back performance
There wasn’t a player on the defense that had been trending as well as Key Lawrence had been heading into the Baylor game. Against the Bears, however, he struggled. Well, he came back with a vengeance this week and was huge in the Oklahoma Sooners’ defensive effort.
He flew around the field and made plays, forcing the fumble that led to Jalen Redmond’s touchdown rumble. He’s going to be a key cog in the Sooners’ secondary next year when seniors Pat Fields and Delarrin Turner-Yell call it a career. After a let-down performance against Baylor, he bounced back in a big way.
Back to Back Bedlam?
If Kansas State is able to knock off the Baylor Bears this afternoon, then the Oklahoma Sooners and Oklahoma State Cowboys would face each other in consecutive ball games in Bedlam.
If Baylor wins, then Oklahoma would need to beat Oklahoma State next week, assuming the Cowboys take care of business against Texas Tech tonight in Lubbock.
The drive to the Big 12 championship is going to be an interesting dynamic for the Oklahoma Sooners. They control their own destiny on the road to Arlington.