The Oklahoma Sooners held off a late comeback attempt from Iowa State to top the Cyclones 34-24 in Ames on Thursday night.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Iowa State trailed the Sooners 31-17 but was in the middle of a threatening drive. OU D-lineman Austin Roberts was called for a dubious personal foul penalty after a ten-yard completion to receiver Allen Lazard, which put the Cyclones in Sooners territory. Facing a third-and-8 from the 23, Oklahoma had the opportunity to stop the Cyclones and effectively ice the game. But quarterback Jacob Park found Dondre Daley for a 23-yard score to cut the deficit to one touchdown.
OU went up ten on its ensuing drive, and Iowa State was forced to answer as the seconds ticked down, facing a two-score climb. From the ISU 37, Park sailed two incomplete passes over Carson Epps to turn the ball over on downs and effectively end the Cyclones comeback threat.
Baker Mayfield had another solid day, finishing 25-for-34 for 328 yards and four touchdowns, but he spent too much time on his back, getting sacked three times and taking hard hits on scrambles. While Abdul Adams was expected to have a breakout performance, the Sooners instead opted to give Dimitri Flowers his first carries and a majority of the touches on the night. He finished with 115 rushing yards.
Dede Westbrook continued his dominance with 131 yards and a touchdown, though he was targeted less than many expected with OU’s main offensive weapons, Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon, unavailable.
OU opened the ballgame on offense and put together an efficient drive that got several different receivers involved while Flowers and Adams split carries. Jeffery Mead came up big with a third-and-9 reception from midfield, and Adams ripped off a 32 yard rush between the tackles to give the Sooners the first-and-goal from the ISU 6. Mayfield was flushed from the pocket on second-and-goal, but had plenty of time to find Mark Andrews after rolling to his right and put the Sooners up by 7.
As expected, Park got the start at quarterback for Iowa State. He took an early downfield shot to Lazard, but it was gamely broken up by Jordan Thomas. The OU secondary forced Park to run with the ball on third-and-11, and he was forced out of bounds well short of the marker.
Geno Lewis took a big hit but held on to an 11-yard gain to start the second OU drive, but things went downhill quickly from there. The Sooners converted a third-and-14 with a contested Flowers catch, but a nice first-down Adams run was called back for holding on Erick Wren. Trying to get the yards back, Mayfield was caught off-guard by a Cyclones blitz on second-and-13 and was unable to get the ball out before it was knocked from his grasp and plucked from the air by Cyclones lineman Jhaustin Thomas. It was Baker’s sixth pick of the year.
Steven Parker almost answered the interception with one of his own, as the Cyclones drove to the OU 10 before stalling out and nearly turning the ball over. Joel Lanning, who had started at QB for much of the season, saw his first action on that drive with several designed runs. Cyclones kicker Cole Netten made it 7-3 Sooners with less than 5 minutes left in the first quarter.
Baker redeemed himself on the next Sooners drive, finding Dede Westbrook for the first time for a 21-yard gain and finishing the drive with a short pass to Mead, who spun and juked his way 20 more yards into the end zone in a surprisingly agile display. Oklahoma’s efforts to get more receivers involved were bearing fruit.
Iowa State, though, wasn’t going quietly. Mike Stoops’ big cushions and poor tackling allowed the Cyclones to dink-and-dunk their way down the field even though receiver Sam Harms dropped one wide-open downfield shot on the first play of the second quarter. On a third-and-4 play rom the OU 31, the Cyclones unexpectedly looked deep and found Lazard wide open on the right sideline after Jordan Parker inexplicably left his corner route to double another Cyclones receiver down the seam.
Westbrook, per usual, singlehandedly flipped the script by returning the ensuing Cyclones kickoff to the ISU 38. But the Sooners couldn’t pick up a single first down on that drive, forcing Austin Seibert into a 49-yard field goal try—which he missed badly, keeping the game at 14-10 with 9:15 left in the half.
ISU and OU traded punts until a David Montgomery punt return gave ISU good field position at the OU 49. Oklahoma almost forced a three-and-out when receiver Trever Ryen was stopped short on third down, but the Cyclones decided to go for the fourth-and-2. The teams both took a timeout, and the Cyclones inserted running QB Lanning. He proceeded to gash the Sooners—trying just for a few yards on an up-the-middle QB keep, shoddy tackling and poor gap discipline gave him a 41 yard score.
The Sooners answered immediately, however, finding Westbrook out of the slot for a 65-yard touchdown to put them back up 21-17. The Cyclones had been covering him one-on-one all evening, and Oklahoma finally made them pay. ISU led for nine seconds.
Montgomery had two nice runs to start the next ISU drive, but left the game with a head injury after the second. His loss proved decisive for the Cyclones, who weren’t able to run as effectively without him. The Cyclones punted the ball back to OU with 2:26 left in the half, and the Sooners took their time to avoid having their defense on the field again. The strategy worked perfectly—Nick Basquine and Geno Lewis stepped up for big grabs before Baker found Flowers in the end zone for a 11-yard passing score with just 6 seconds left in the half. Oklahoma went to the locker room up 28-17.
The Sooners defense forced a quick punt to begin the second half, then marched downfield on the kind of methodical drive that usually gets done to them, not by them. Flowers went from OU’s primary back to OU’s only back on that drive, which might have ended better if not for a Orlando Brown personal foul penalty that gave yards back in ISU territory. Seibert actually hit his 36-yarder and OU went up 31-17.
He hit another field goal with 7:05 left in the fourth to finish the scoring.
Iowa State didn’t manage a manage a second-half first down until the very end of the third quarter, and the OU defense stiffened considerably after struggling through the first half. Still, it was no red-letter day for the defenders, who finished with no takeaways and just one Caleb Kelly sack. DJ Ward led the unit with seven tackles.
Oklahoma returns to action next Saturday as it takes on Baylor in Norman in a big-time Big 12 showdown.