Iowa State heads to Norman fresh off a win that not only gave the Cyclones their biggest victory of the year, but also may have saved head coach Paul Rhoads’ job. Seeing as ISU just pounded a Texas team that beat Oklahoma earlier this year, it would make sense that the ‘Clones could do the same to the Sooners, right?
Vegas doesn’t think so, installing OU as a 25.5-point favorite. However, with the Big 12’s November gauntlet still ahead of them, the Sooners can’t get caught looking past the scrappy Cyclones.
Iowa State at Oklahoma
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: ESPNU
Spread: Oklahoma -25.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Can Joel Lanning get loose?
Rhoads made the switch behind center last week from Sam Richardson to Lanning, and the move paid immediate dividends. The sophomore quarterback sparked the Iowa State offense, which converted a staggering 16 of 26 attempts on third and fourth down against Texas. Lanning’s timely running and efficient passing helped keep the ball in his team’s hands for more than 37 minutes against the Longhorns.
2. Protecting Baker Mayfield
Rhoads and Iowa State defensive coordinator Wally Burnham have undoubtedly seen the success that teams have had this year coming after OU’s green offensive line. Even Kansas got to Sooners' QB Baker Mayfield last week, exposing him to hits and forcing him to bail on the pocket. Bob Stoops needs to have a talk with Mayfield about keeping himself out of harm’s way. More importantly, though, the line needs to keep him clean.
3. OU’s running game
Since the Texas game, offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley has shown a commitment to getting the Sooners’ ground attack going. That’s not so hard when you’re facing Kansas and Texas Tech, the two worst run defenses in the Big 12. Iowa State isn’t much better at stopping the run, but the ‘Clones do have a solid defensive brain trust who will come up with a plan to slow Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon.
Given that OU has a revenge game with Baylor on deck next week, the natural question is where the Sooners’ heads will be on Saturday night. Yet, don’t overlook the letdown factor for Iowa State after last week’s big win.
By now, Stoops knows that he needs serious style points against teams like the Cyclones if his Sooners want to have a shot at the College Football Playoff. He probably won’t take his foot off the gas on Saturday, assuming his team puts him in that position.
Prediction: Oklahoma 45, Iowa State 13
— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.