NORMAN – The weirdest season in living memory (other than last season, which was weird for reasons completely unrelated to what was happening on the field) continued Saturday, as the Sooners defeated Iowa State 28-21 in the 2021 home finale. The win set up a huge game next Saturday night in Stillwater, as the Sooners must win over OSU to advance to the Big 12 title game, assuming Baylor does not lose to Texas Tech. The Aggies are already in the title game, so a Sooner victory at Boone Pickens Stadium will lead to a rematch at Jerry World one week later.
Caleb Williams has, for whatever reason, become hesitant to let the ball go downfield, and it showed tremendously in this game. He was only 8-18 for 87 yards, a pick, and a score in this game. Mario Williams had two catches for 18 yards and the score, while Jeremiah Hall had two for 17. Marvin Mims had one catch for 22 yards, Mike Woods had one for 16, Jadon Haselwood had one for 14, Kennedy Brooks had one for nine, and Eric Gray had one for four.
Brooks led all rushers with 115 yards on 17 carries. Caleb Williams added 12 carries for 67 net yards and a score, while Gray had four carries for 23 yards and a TD.
The Sooner defense was stellar for much of the day, particularly against the run and pressuring ISU QB Brock Purdy. They registered eight sacks on the afternoon, had two picks, and forced several of ISU’s six fumbles, including the one that OU recovered, which went for a scoop and score right before halftime.
Iowa State scored on their opening possession of the game, a very annoying trend for Sooner opponents over the last several weeks. The Sooner defense had stopped the Cyclones on third and seven from their own 28 and would have had a three and out, but a silly personal foul gave ISU a first down. Seven plays later, Purdy hit Joe Scates near the goal line. DJ Graham stripped the ball from him, and it went across the goal line and out of bounds. It was initially called an incomplete pass, but after a lengthy review, it was ruled that it was a catch and fumble, but Graham was out of bounds when he hit the ball, so ISU kept it at the spot of the fumble. Breece Hall took it in from the one on the next play, and ISU led 7-0 with 10 minutes to play in the first quarter.
The Sooners answered quickly. After a one-yard Brooks run on first down, Caleb Williams took a designed QB run play 75 yards for a score. The game was tied at seven apiece with 9:13 to play in the first quarter.
The teams exchanged multiple punts before the Sooners threatened again. They moved from their own 26 to the ISU eight in nine plays, but the drive stalled. Gabe Brkic came on for a field goal and doinked one off the upright from 25 yards out for his third miss in a row.
ISU took over with 5:28 to play in the first half and moved to a first down at the OU 29. However, an illegal forward pass penalty on a trick play that appeared, bizarrely, to be designed to throw two forward passes pushed them back to the OU 43. Two plays later, on third and 21, Purdy scrambled around before Key Lawrence bashed him and knocked the ball out of his hands and 10 yards back upfield. Jalen Redmond scooped the ball up on a perfect bounce and rumbled in for the TD from 42 yards out. The Sooners led 14-7 with only nine seconds left in the first half.
The second half began with three punts before ISU mounted a drive into OU territory. On second and two from the OU 37, Hall was held to a yard, then was stuffed on third down. The Cyclones went for it, and Purdy was stopped short to turn the ball over on downs.
OU then took advantage. Caleb Williams hit Hall for 14 yards, then Brooks carried for eight and one. An incomplete pass left the Sooners facing fourth and three from the ISU43. Caleb Williams kept the ball for four yards and a first down – his first fourth down carry on the season that did not result in a touchdown, I believe. Two plays later, Caleb Williams connected with Mims for 22 yards to the ISU12. Two plays after that, he found Mario Williams in the end zone for the TD and a 21-7 lead with 4:02 to play in the third quarter.
After the teams exchanged interceptions, ISU scored on a 13-play, 75-yard drive to make it 21-14 with 10:52 to play in the game. Each team then had a three and out possession before OU extended their lead again.
Starting from the OU 32 after an ISU punt, Brooks carried for 26 yards to start things off, and a face mask penalty put the ball at the ISU 27. He then ran for nine and eight before Gray chipped in carries of three and the scoring run of seven to make it 28-14 with 5:06 to play in the game.
ISU went 75 yards in seven plays and only 2:09 on the ensuing possession to cut the lead back to one score with 2:57 to play in the game. The Sooners were able to run only 1:11 off the clock on their ensuing possession while going three and out. ISU took over on their own 14 after a Sooner punt, with 1:46 to try to tie or win the game.
The Cyclones quickly moved out to their 45 in only two plays, but a sack put ISU behind the chains. They eventually found themselves facing a fourth and six from the ISU 49 but were able to convert. They moved to the OU 21 before a clock spike and two incomplete passes left them with a do or die fourth down chance again, this one with 10 yards to go. This time, Purdy’s pass to a wide-open receiver was high and Pat Fields picked off the tipped ball with 15 seconds left to seal the victory.
The Sooners travel to Stillwater for a 6:30 kick and a chance to secure their berth in the Big 12 Championship Game for a rematch with OSU at Jerry World. See you in cold Stillwater Saturday night.