ARLINGTON, TEXAS – The Sooners ran out to a 17-0 first half lead and held on in the fourth quarter for a 27-21 win over Iowa State Saturday at AT&T Stadium, securing their sixth consecutive Big 12 Championship. OU finished sixth in the final CFP rankings released Sunday morning.
Spencer Rattler was 22-34 for 272 yards and a score. Marvin Mims led all Sooner receivers with 101 yards and a score on seven catches. Rhamondre Stevenson added 36 yards on four catches, while Brayden Willis had three catches for 42 yards. Theo Wease had three for 27, Jeremiah Hall had two for 33, Jadon Haselwood had two for 20, and Drake Stoops had one for 13. Trejan Bridges, in his first action after what ended up as a year-long suspension, did not register a catch but nearly had a spectacular diving grab for a TD.
Stevenson led all rushers with 97 yards on 18 carries. Rattler had 17 yards and a TD on seven carries, while Mikey Henderson had one for four.
The Cyclones won the toss and deferred. The Sooners took over on their own 35 after the opening kickoff went out of bounds. Stevenson carried for three yards on the opening play of the game, then Rattler hit Stoops for 13 yards and a first down. More importantly, ISU’s best defensive back, Isheem Young, was called for targeting on the play, as he put a shoulder directly into the back of Stoops’ head as he went down. The call was upheld, and Young was done for the day after only two plays. The penalty moved the ball to the ISU 34. After Rattler connected with Hall for 19 yards to the 14, Stevenson ran for 12 to set up first and goal at the two. Stevenson was stuffed on first down, then Rattler ran off the field limping and Chandler Morris came in to relieve him. As it turned out, it was a ruse, as Morris kept the ball around the left side for a TD. OU led 7-0 with 12:05 to play in the first quarter.
ISU picked up one first down on the ensuing possession but was forced to punt. OU took over on their own 13. A 15-yard Stevenson catch and run moved it to the 28, but two plays later, a holding penalty left OU facing second and 16. Stevenson took care of that quickly, carrying for 24 yards and a first down at the OU 46. Rattler then hit Wease for nine yards, Mims for eight, and Haselwood for 17 to make it first down at the ISU 20. The drive stalled there, and Gabe Brkic’s 36-yard field goal attempt missed.
ISU mounted a drive on their next possession, moving to the OU 26. The Sooner defense forced a field goal attempt, and Connor Assalley’s 43-yard try bounced off the crossbar no good.
OU took over on their own 26 and moved to the ISU 45 behind Stevenson runs of five and four yards, a Henderson run of four, and a 16-yard pass to Mims. On the first play of the second quarter, Rattler hit Mims on a 45-yard bomb that made it 14-0 with 14:52 to play in the second quarter.
ISU went backwards on their next possession, as a chop block penalty and a false start pushed them back to a third and 26. A short punt gave the Sooners the ball at the 50. OU went three and out, though, and Reeves Mundschau booted a seeing-eye punt that took a left turn at the two-yard line and was downed there. ISU could only pick up two yards on the ensuing possession, while the Sooners very nearly had ISU QB Brock Purdy in the end zone for a safety. The ISU punt went only to the 47, and Mims returned it to the 40. OU went three and out again, but Brkic knocked through a bomb from 54 yards out to make it 17-0 with 8:35 to play in the second quarter.
ISU moved to the Sooner 11 on their next possession, but Tre Norwood picked off an underthrown Purdy pass in the end zone to stop the threat. After the Sooners went three and out, ISU finally mounted a scoring drive, but only with OU’s help. On third and six from the ISU 38, Purdy was sacked by Perrion Winfrey for an eight-yard loss that should have resulted in a Cyclone punt. However, Winfrey committed a heinous face mask on Purdy in the process of taking him down, and the penalty gave ISU a first down at the OU 47. Four plays later, Norman native Charlie Kolar was in the end zone for the Cyclones, and it was 17-7 with 1:34 to play in the second quarter.
As it turned out, ISU left the Sooners too much time. Tre Brown returned the ensuing kickoff 43 yards to the ISU 45. Rattler then hit Wease for nine yards and Stevenson for 12 more and a first down at the Cyclone 24. A Stevenson run took it 15 yards more, to the nine. Rattler kept around right end on the next play and went in untouched for the score and a 24-7 Sooner lead with 37 seconds to play in the second quarter. That would be the halftime score.
The third quarter was a display of bad offense – or good defense, depending on how you look at it – by both teams. It was nothing but a seemingly endless exchange of punts until ISU mounted a nine-play, 90-yard TD drive that made it 24-14 with 12 seconds to play in the third quarter.
Two Sooner punts sandwiched around an ISU punt followed. ISU made the game truly interesting with a 12-play, 87-yard TD drive that closed the score to 24-21 with 5:15 to play in the game.
Tre Brown kickstarted the ensuing possession with another 43-yard kickoff return that gave the Sooners the ball at their own 44 to start. Stevenson lost a yard on the first play, but Rattler then found Willis crossing the middle for 15 yards and a first down at the ISU 42. Stevenson ran for 11, then five, then Rattler hit Willis again for six and a first down at the Cyclone 20. OU only picked up five more yards from there, and Brkic came on to boot a 32-yard field goal that made it 27-21 with 2:01 to play. Things looked to be set up for the Cinderella Cyclones to author a Cinderella one-point win.
And it looked like that might happen, as a face mask penalty on the Sooners gave ISU a first down at the OU 33. After an incomplete pass, though, ISU imploded. Consecutive false start penalties made it second and 20 from the OU 43. A nine-yard pass made it third and 11 from the 34. On the next snap, ISU was late getting the play in and snapped the ball before they wanted to so as to avoid burning their final time out. The play was discombobulated from the start, and Purdy was quickly under pressure from Nik Bonitto. Purdy ran to the right and heaved an arm punt toward the end zone that was easily picked off by Brown at the Sooner seven-yard line with 1:05 to play in the game. The Sooners kneeled it out from there to secure the game and their sixth consecutive Big 12 title and 14th overall (of a possible 25.)
OU will now face Florida in the Cotton Bowl on the evening of December 30, right back in AT&T Stadium in Arlington. We owe Florida a beating. See you at JerryWorld once again.