The main glaring difference between Iowa State and Oklahoma's previous three opponents is the struggles that the Cyclones have experienced on the defensive side of the ball. ISU is one of the worst defensive teams in the conference whereas TCU, Texas, and Kansas State are all near or at the top.
As Oklahoma's offense prepares to face the Cyclones on the road there will still be challenges that they face but the end result should be extremely different just based on the performance of the ISU defense. Here's what the Sooners should aim to do on the offensive side of the ball.
Run, run, run. The only team in the Big 12 worse than Iowa State against the run is Texas Tech. The Cyclones are giving up an average of 209 and 4.9 yards per carry. Yes, ISU knows that Oklahoma wants to run at them and, yes, they'll prepare for it. That doesn't mean that they'll be successful though. Everyone tries to run on the Cyclones and everyone finds success. Opponents are averaging nearly 43 rushing attempts per game against Iowa State.
Keith Ford is expected to make a return and that should bring an added dimension from the backfield that an already struggling defense has to deal with. Ford is Oklahoma's best back at sliding out and running a passing route which means that the ISU linebackers have to be that much more alert. The more Oklahoma runs the ball the better the play-action pass can work.
Score! I know, I know. That does sound trivial but believe it or not, sometimes the offense plays just for field position. Oklahoma needs to take the approach that every offensive possession could be a scoring drive, and they need to work on long scoring drives that consume the clock. Yup, that running game just became that much more important.
Protect the football. Two pick sixes have cost Oklahoma two games this season. It's going to be cold at kickoff with temperatures expected to be below freezing. This means that the likelihood of a tipped pass rises, as does the difficulty level of simple things like taking a hand-off or handling a pitch. The best way to keep a heavy underdog in a fight is to give them the ball off turnovers. Ball security must be a priority!
The Sooners won't need an overly complicated offensive game plan this weekend but they don't need to dumb it down to the level of the Texas game either. This offense needs to get stronger at the line of scrimmage and Trevor Knight needs to continue developing in several areas of his game. Iowa State is the perfect opportunity for both of those things to happen.