AMES – Iowa State marched into Norman, Oklahoma, last season with its backup quarterback and handed Oklahoma one of its two losses last season.
This season, it appears Iowa State will be rolling with another backup, but can the Cyclones replicate the results in Jack Trice on Saturday at 11 a.m.?
- Baker Mayfield Who? No. 5 Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley has shown through two games that he has transitioned from the Heisman winner to Texas A&M transfer Kyler Murray, who stepped in and picked up right where Mayfield left off. He has completed 64 percent of his passes for 515 yards and five touchdowns. He’s also Oklahoma’s second-leading rusher with 92 yards and two touchdowns.
“I think the thing that is unique is (Murray) has all the intangibles,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said. “He’s not just a runner, he’s not just a thrower, he can do it all at a very high level. Within that offensive scheme, when you do those things, your production is going to be at a really high level."
- Oklahoma starting running back Rodney Anderson is out for the remainder of the season. Anderson began starting for Oklahoma after the Iowa State game last season and didn’t look back. He rushed for 1,166 last season and racked up 125 yards and three touchdowns this season in four quarters before his injury against UCLA.
The thing about Oklahoma is they have four more running backs that can take over for Anderson without losing too much. The Sooners will likely go with Trey Sermon on Saturday as the starter. Sermon has rushed for 87 yards so far and started last year for the Sooners before Anderson took over.
Numbers that matter
Oklahoma’s top two receivers, Marquise Brown and CeeDee Lamb, have combined for 410 yards receiving. Both of them are averaging more than 20 yards per reception. The Sooners are an offensive force, scoring 56 points per game. Oklahoma’s starting defense has allowed only one touchdown this season.
- For the second straight season, Matt Campbell will likely be forced to play his backup quarterback against the top-ranked Sooners. On the bright side, Zeb Noland has experience unlike Kempt last season. Noland has shown flashes of being a Big 12-caliber quarterback with his strong arm, but he needs to clean up his decision making and accuracy. He went 4-10 and 43 yards in relief for Kempt against Iowa.
“We’re really fortunate to have a guy like Zeb who has started football games, who has really improved,” Campbell said. “If he’s the guy on Saturday, he’s a guy that everybody feels really confident about going in and running our offense.”
- Iowa State’s defense will need to step up in a big way. Last season, the Cyclones held Oklahoma 14 points below its scoring average. That won’t cut it this season, considering Oklahoma's ludicrous scoring pace. ISU didn’t force any turnovers against the Hawkeyes. Doing so against Murray and the Sooners will be crucial.
Numbers that matter
Star running back David Montgomery had only 44 yards on the ground against Iowa. Campbell needs to get him going this week. True freshman linebacker Mike Rose had 11 tackles against Iowa in his debut; he’ll face a completely different test against Oklahoma, and he’ll likely be asked to spy Murray much of the game, like Joel Lanning did last year.
Oklahoma 34, Iowa State 17