AMES, IOWA – There are few certainties in life. Death and taxes, sure, but not much else. Of the few other things that fall into the category of sure things, one of them is Oklahoma beating Iowa State on the football field. Last night, the Sooners dispatched the Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, 34-24. It was their 18th win in a row over ISU and their 74th in an 81-game series dating back to 1928.
With the absence of the Sooners’ starting running backs, Samaje Perine with injury and Joe Mixon with stupidity, true freshman Abdul Adams figured to carry the rushing load. Instead, steady as a rock fullback Dmitri Flowers, with nary a career carry before last night, had a breakout game. Flowers ran for 115 yards on 22 carries, and had a nice touchdown catch, as well. Adams added 54 yards on eight carries.
The Sooners were shaky in pass protection all night, partially because of ISU’s sellout blitzing scheme and partially because Adams’ pass protection left, well, something to be desired, which was likely why Flowers ended up with the carries that he did. Baker Mayfield was sacked three times and pressured much more than that. He still managed to be his usual efficient self, going 25 of 34 for 328 yards and four TDs, as well as a pick on a ball when he was hit while throwing. Dede Westbrook had another 100-yard receiving day, with seven catches for 131 yards and a TD, which came on the familiar rollout bomb that the Sooners seem to score on every game.
OU started things out well with a touchdown after taking the opening kickoff. The big play was a 32-yard Adams run that put the Sooners at the ISU 6. Two plays later, Mayfield hit Andrews for the score, and it was 7-0 Sooners. After ISU punted, Mayfield was intercepted on the next possession at the Sooner 35, which turned into a Cyclone field goal to make it 7-3.
The Sooners quickly answered with a touchdown to up the lead to 14-3. The score came on a 30-yard Mayfield pass to Jeffrey Mead. Mead caught a short pass, broke a tackle, then floored several ISU defenders with a pair of spin moves on his way to the end zone. After an Iowa State TD that made it 14-10 and a badly missed 49-yard field goal by Austin Seibert (which wasted a brilliant 63-yard kickoff return by Westbrook), and an exchange of punts, ISU took their only lead of the night.
Cyclone QB Joel Lanning went 41 yards for a score on a fourth-and-two play, coming off back-to-back times out, to make it 17-14 ISU, and making the home crowd think that maybe they had a chance for the upset. The lead would last exactly nine seconds. On the first play of the ensuing possession, Mayfield rolled out and heaved a bomb to a wide-open Westbrook, who stiff-armed a defender to the ground and took it in for a 65-yard TD and a 21-14 lead with 4:16 to go in the first half.
After an ISU punt, the Sooners got the ball back with 2:26 left. Adams ran for 11 yards, and two plays later Mayfield hit Nick Basquine for nine yards on third and five to give the Sooners a first down at the 50. A 22-yard throw to Geno Lewis and another 17-yard catch by Basquine left the Sooners with first down at the Cyclone 11 with 12 seconds to play in the half. Mayfield then hit Flowers in the back of the end zone with six seconds to go for the score that put the Sooners up 28-17 at the half and fully deflated what had been an increasingly raucous crowd.
The third quarter was largely consumed by a 7:44, 50-yard field goal drive by the Sooners that put them up 31-17 with 5:43 to play in the period. ISU did nothing at all, with only 19 yards of offense in the third.
After ISU scored a TD on their first possession of the fourth quarter to make it 31-24, the Sooners answered with a field goal with 7:05 to play for a 10-point lead. ISU then failed on fourth and eight from their own 37 on their final possession of the game. The Sooners took over with 5:02 to play. Six runs from Flowers made it first and goal at the ISU four-yard-line, and Mayfield kneeled out the game from there for the 34-24 win.
The Sooners now stand at 7-2, 6-0 in conference. As it was last year, the final three games of the season will tell the tale. It just so happens that the Sooners face the other three teams with a shot at the title - Baylor in Norman, West Virginia in Morgantown, OSU in Norman. OU currently stands a game and a half ahead of the field with three to play.
Fortunately, it appears that Mixon and Perine will be back for Baylor. Frankly, we are less concerned about the Sooner offense against the Bears than the defense. Yes, it’s been ravaged by injuries, but that has nothing to do with the guys on the field not being able to tackle anyone, a problem which was very apparent in Lubbock and reared its head again last night. The secondary has played better since Lubbock, although ISU had several open receivers last night. Baylor will try mightily to take the top off the Sooner defense, and if they don’t play better, we could be in for another video game score on Saturday.
As for us, we’re off to Vegas in a few hours. See you in Norman next Saturday.