AMES, IOWA – Critical, stupid penalties. A third-quarter fumble deep in Iowa State territory that turned what would have been a double-digit lead into a tie game. These are the things that helped turn the Sooners’ loss last year against the Cyclones. These things also happened today in Ames. But today, unlike last season, a replay review negated the Sooners’ critical third-quarter fumble. So instead of ISU having the ball and a chance to tie, the Sooners converted a field goal to take a 10-point lead. And that, as it tuns out, was what enabled the Sooners to prevent ISU from ever having the ball within one score the rest of the game. Austin Seibert’s 42-yard field goal with 2:51 to play secured the Sooners’ 37-27 win, and Parnell Motley’s interception with 1:11 left sealed it.
Kyler Murray was nothing short of outstanding. He was a very efficient 21 of 29 for 348 yards and three TDs. He also added 77 yards rushing on 15 carries to lead the team in that category. Trey Sermon toted the ball 13 times for 74 yards, while Marcelias Sutton had 21 yards on 9 carries.
Hollywood Brown broke his own school record for receiving yards in a half, finishing with 191 yards on nine catches, including a 75-yard TD bomb. CeeDee Lamb had three catches for 36 yards and a score, while Grant Calcaterra added two for 41 yards, but had a bad fumble.
ISU took the opening kick and moved to the Sooner 29 before failing on a fourth and five and turning it over on downs. The Sooners then moved 67 yards in 10 plays for a field goal to open the scoring. The big play was a 48-yard pass from Murray to Brown on third and seven from the Sooner 43 that gave OU a first and goal at the Cyclone nine-yard-line. They couldn’t punch it in from there, and Seibert’s field goal with 8:22 to play in the first quarter made it 3-0.
ISU picked up a first down on their next possession and moved into Sooner territory, but were derailed by a holding penalty and had to punt. The Sooners took over on their own 10. After Sutton lost two yards on first down, Murray carried for seven, then hit Brown for 10 and a first down at the 25. On the next play, Murray found Brown again, this time wide open over the top for a 75-yard TD play and a 10-0 lead with 3:43 to play in the first quarter.
ISU moved to the Sooner 14 on their next possession but had to settle for a field goal with 13:38 to go in the first half that made it 10-3. Two plays and 23 seconds later, it was 10-10. Murray hit Calcaterra on the first play of the ensuing possession for 28 yards, but he fumbled it away to the Cyclones at the ISU 49. Then ISU backup QB Zeb Noland, who would shred the Sooners to the tune of 25 of 36 for 360 yards and a pair of TDs, plus a pick, hit Hakeem Butler for a 51-yard TD pass that was marked by four horribly missed tackled in the Sooner secondary. The score was tied with 13:15 to play in the first half.
OU dominated the rest of the half. Taking over on their own 25 after a touchback, the Sooners used Murray completions to Brown of nine and 15 yards to move to a first down at the ISU 49. Sermon ran for 14, then Murray ran for three and nine before hitting A.D. Miller for 17 more and a first down at the Cyclone six. Two plays later, Murray hit Lamb for five yards and the TD. That made it 17-10 with 7:47 to play in the half.
ISU picked up a first down on the ensuing possession. However, a sack by Kenneth Murray on third and eight forced a punt. OU took over on its own 26 with 4:24 to play in the half. Runs from Sutton and Kyler Murray moved it to the OU 41, but a holding penalty on the next play left them facing first and 17. Two plays later, however, Murray hit Lamb for 19 yards and a first down at the ISU 44. Three plays later, Murray hit Brown for 26 yards to the ISU 7. Murray then hit Myles Tease for the TD with only five seconds left in the half. That made it 24-10 at the end of the first half.
The Sooners had a chance to put a foot on the Cyclones’ neck when they took the opening kickoff of the second half. However, they couldn’t move it past their own 35 and had to punt. ISU scored quickly, helped by a stupid personal foul on Motley for slinging an ISU player to the ground after the whistle. The very next play, Noland hit Butler again for a long 57-yard TD play, once again helped along by the Sooner secondary’s sudden aversion to tackling. The score made it 24-17 with 11:48 to go in the third quarter.
The Sooners would answer. Taking over on their own 33 after a pooch kick, OU used seven and five yard runs by Sutton and a Murray six-yard keeper to move to the ISU 49. Murray then hit Sutton for 11 more yards. Sutton ran for a yard on the next play and was face-masked to boot, and OU had a first down at the Cyclone 22. On the next play, Sermon bounced off several tacklers on his way to a 22-yard scoring run and a 31-17 lead with 9:20 to play in the third quarter.
ISU answered with a 75 yard TD drive in eight plays. The big play was a 30-yard completion from Noland to Butler down to the Sooner seven-yard-line. Three plays later, David Montgomery took it in from the one, and it was 31-24 with 6:40 to play in the third quarter.
A 32-yard completion from Murray to Carson Meier put OU in prime position at the ISU 15 on the ensuing possession. That’s when it really started to look like last year’s game, as Sutton fumbled the ball away to ISU on the next play, and was injured to boot. However, unlike last year, when a Sooner fumble in the same situation led to ISU tying the game, the Sooners caught a break. Replay showed Sutton was down, and OU retained the ball. They would not move it any further, but Seibert’s second field goal of the day made it 34-24 with 3:20 to play in the third quarter.
The teams exchanged punts before ISU used an 83-yard drive to notch a field goal that one again moved it to a one-score game at 34-27 with 10:43 to play in the game. The Sooners then embarked on one of the drives that were so familiar the last few seasons, a long, slow, drive with a lead in the fourth quarter. Murray started it off with a pair of 15-yard runs sandwiched around a two-yard gain from Sermon. Sutton carried for two, then Sermon again for nine. A holding penalty negated a 26-yard Sermon run to the ISU three-yard-line and pushed OU back to first and 20 at the ISU 39. Murray then hit Calcaterra for 13 yards and Murray carried for two to set up third and five at the Cyclone 24. Murray then hit Tease for eight yards and a first down at the ISU 16. A second down sack derailed things, but Seibert was nails in hitting a 42-yard field goal with 2:51 to play to make it 37-27.
ISU was able to dink and dunk to the Sooner 41 on their final drive, but Kenneth Mann got in Nolan’s face and forced him to heave up a duck that Motley picked off with 1:11 to play in the game to seal it.
The reports of the Sooner defense’s return were apparently greatly exaggerated. The secondary issues that reared their ugly heads today, particularly the awful tackling, need more work. This defense is better than it has been – they held Montgomery to only 82 yards on 21 carries and were able to pressure Noland at times. And as poor as they were at times, giving up 27 points should be good enough to win any game on the schedule. But it’s still too much.
ISU may turn out to be a pretty good team. They may not. But regardless, we were able to win a tough game on the road, and we are 1-0 in conference. That’s all that matters right now.
Next up, Army brings their option attack to Norman for a much-appreciated 6 p.m. kickoff on a not-so-appreciated pay-per-view game. See you at Owen Field next Saturday night.