AMES, IOWA – The year was 1960. Dwight Eisenhower was in his final months as President of the United States. On November 5, Iowa State defeated Oklahoma in Ames, 10-6. Three days later, John F. Kennedy would be elected President.
And, until Saturday night, that November day 60 years ago was the last time the Sooners tasted defeat in Ames. But all things must come to an end, like a 60-year streak, and hopes of a fourth consecutive CFP appearance – and so they did in Ames as the Sooners couldn’t hold a fourth-quarter lead once again and fell to the Cyclones 37-30.
Some of the same shortcomings that led to last week’s loss to Kansas State manifested themselves again in Ames. A complete lack of competence and discipline in the defensive secondary was chief among them. Giving up a cross-country pass play. Penalty after penalty after penalty. A huge special teams blunder. Poor offensive line play and a continuing lack of a consistent run game – perhaps the biggest surprise. A turnover to end the last hope.
There were bright spots, to be sure. The Sooner defense finally forced their first meaningful turnover of the year. Spencer Rattler was again solid and showed that, with experience, he will meet the standard of QBs that has been set in Norman. But it was only one turnover, and Rattler is still a freshman. This season is starting out a lot like 2005 and 2009 – two other seasons that we started a freshman QB. It comes with the territory – it’s just that expectations are a lot higher than that.
Rattler was a solid 25-36 for 300 yards, two TDs, and a pick. Austin Stogner led all receivers with 74 yards on five catches, while Jeremiah Hall had five for 37 and two TDs. Charleston Rambo caught four balls for 61 yards, Seth McGowan had three for 42, and Marvin Mims had three for 33. T.J. Pledger led the Sooners in rushing with 47 yards on 11 carries. McGowan had 47 on 12 totes, while Rattler scrambled for 20 yards on nine carries.
The Sooners took the opening kickoff and moved from their own 25 to the ISU six in only three plays, with the big chunk coming on a 51-yard strike from Rattler to Rambo. The drive stalled at the Cyclone one-yard line, and Gabe Brkic came on for a field goal that made it 3-0 with 11:36 to play in the first quarter. The Cyclones would answer with a nine-play, 57-yard field goal drive of their own, and the game was tied.
On the ensuing possession, which started on the OU 15 after an ill-advised Rambo kickoff return, Rattler hit Mims for 16, McGowan ran for four, then McGowan took a nice shovel pass 35 yards to the ISU30. Mims caught one for 10, then three plays later the Sooners faced fourth and one at the ISU 11. McGowan picked up three, then two plays later Rattler leapt in on a scramble from five yards out, and OU led 10-3 with 3:59 to play in the first quarter.
After a Cyclone field goal made it 10-6, the Sooners embarked on another TD drive. The drive started with a personal foul on ISU that moved the ball to the 50. Three plays later, on third and 11, Rattler hit Stogner for 31 yards and a first down. Rattler and Stogner connected again two plays later for 14 and a first-and-goal at the Cyclone four. A wide-open Hall caught the TD pass on the next play, and the Sooner lead had extended to 17-6 with 11:49 to play in the second quarter.
After the teams exchanged punts, ISU mounted a six-play, 85-yard TD drive. They moved from their own 15 to the Sooner 15 in only two plays, then spent forever scoring from there, as the teams exchanged penalties. A Breece Hall TD run from two yards out made it 17-13 OU with 3:53 to play in the second quarter.
OU would move the ball to the ISU 37 with three seconds left and set up for a 54-yard field goal try from Brkic. He had the distance, but his kick was wide left, and the Sooners led by only four at the half.
After an exchange of field goals to start the second half, ISU took their first lead, on a drive that exemplified Sooner frustrations. Two incomplete passes left the Cyclones facing third and 10 from their own 25. OU sacked ISU QB Brock Purdy on third down, but a defensive holding call gave them a first down. On the next play, they hit a 65-yard TD pass, and ISU led 23-20 with 1:18 to play in the third quarter.
The Sooners answered with a 51-yard Brkic field goal on the ensuing possession, and the game was tied at 23with 12:48 to play in the contest. The Sooner defense finally made a big play on the ensuing possession, as Isaiah Thomas sacked Purdy and caused a fumble that Josh Ellison recovered, giving the Sooners the ball at the ISU 39. OU would retake the lead quickly from there. Pledger carried for six yards, then McGowan ran for 14 and Rattler hit Stogner for 16 to the Cyclone three. Another wide-open pass from Rattler to Hall scored the TD, and the Sooners led 30-23 with 8:17 to play and felt pretty good about things. That feeling would only last as long as the ensuing kickoff.
ISU returned the kick 85 yards to the OU 13-yard line. Two plays later, it was 30-30. The Sooners went backwards on the ensuing possession and a short punt gave ISU the ball at their own 45. Four plays later, ISU was in the end zone, and it was 37-30 with 4:06 to play in the game.
The Sooners quickly faced a fourth down and four from their own 41 with 1:52 to play. Unlike last week, Lincoln Riley decided to go for it, and was rewarded, as Rambo’s eight-yard catch kept Sooner hopes alive. Those hopes were dashed a few plays later as Rattler was intercepted in the end zone on a play where his intended received Rambo appeared to have been held, but no flag was thrown. ISU ran out the clock and secured their first home win over the Sooners in this reporter’s lifetime.
So, where to go from here? Well, Dallas, for starters. The Sooners stand at 1-2, and the Horns, absent a miracle in Lubbock, would be right there with them. As it is, these are two teams with lots of problems that should play an intensely entertaining game. My advice is to enjoy this season for what it is, game by game. The CFP is off the table, so that pressure is off. The Big12 is generally a dumpster fire, so no telling what will happen in the conference. Some of the most entertaining seasons are the ones like these. If there was a year to have a year like this, it would be this year, when everything is messed up anyway. See you in Dallas.