By Michael Kinney
NORMAN – Most thought Oklahoma was passed those days. The times when they would be cruising along then all of a sudden drop a game that they should have won easily.
Despite being ranked No. 3 in the nation, it looks like they haven;t gotten those type of games out of their DNA just yet. The Sooners fell 38-31 to Iowa State Saturday at Memorial Stadium. Favored by 28 points, it was easily one of the biggest upsets on Oklahoma history.
“I think it’s a sense of complacency. We’ve been talking about it; it’s not like we haven’t addressed it. We’ve let teams come back in games and give them hope,” OU quarterback Baker Mayfield said. “When you do that to a team who has their back against the wall, it’s something you can’t do. When you have a chance to bury a team you have to take care of it. The great teams take care of that business.”
This is the seventh straight season the Sooners have lost a game in which they were favored by double digits. But the loss to ISU may have been the most painful because of everything that was on the line.
“We are going to go one of two ways,” defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “This will be a gut check for us. We haven’t played anywhere near the way we played a month ago”
The Sooners (4-1, 1-1 Big 12) trailed the Cyclones (3-1, 1-1) in the fourth quarter before they came back and tied the game at 31-31 on a Dimitri Flowers touchdown run.
Late in the game Oklahoma’s defense forced ISU into a 3rd and long situation from deep in their own territory. It looked like OU was going to get off the field when they forced an incomplete pass.
However, the Sooners Nevil Gallimore was called for a personal foul, which gave Iowa State an automatic first down. ISU then drove down the field and ended the drive with a 25 touchdown pass from Kyle Kemp to Allen Lazard with 2:19 left in the game.
“We’re just not making enough plays. Seems like every time we get out there, they make all the plays, we don’t make any,” Stoops said. “It’s tough to win if you don’t make any plays – competitive plays. That’s for sure. We rose in coverage a couple different times and that helped, but we’re going to have to do more of it to protect ourselves too.”
However, the Sooners still had time to take the ball down field and tie the game. But offense stalled near midfield. On a 4th and long, Mayfield scrambled but could not find an open receiver and his pass fell incomplete.
The Cyclones took a knee to run out the clock, then celebrated ending an 18 game losing streak to OU. That included sticking an Iowa flag into the Owen Field turf.
“We play this game to win and if we didn’t do that we wouldn’t be out here playing,” ISU’s Allen Lazard said. “We come out every game confident whether we’re playing UNI, Iowa, Akron, Texas, Oklahoma. We go out there with the same amount of confidence and poise. And we are very capable of hanging with the best.”
Since 1961, the Cyclones’ only win against the Sooners had been a 33-31 victory in 1990 in Norman. Saturday was the Sooners’ first loss to Iowa State in the Big 12 era (13-1).
The Cyclones racked up 449 total yards. That included 368 passing yards from their No. 2 and No. 3 quarterbacks. One of them, Joel Lanning, also started at linebacker.
Mayfield threw for 305 yards and two scores. However, both TD passes came in the first quarter. Trey Sermon led the ground attack with 92 yards on 18 carries.
Oklahoma played most of the game without Ceedee Lamb, who injured his shoulder on a first quarter touchdown catch.
“CeeDee is a very explosive player and someone to rely on heavily,” tight end Mark Andrews said. “Anytime you lose a guy like that it’s going to hurt a little bit, but we have guys that stepped up and made plays and did well. We’re deep at that position and are lucky for that.”
Oklahoma also lost safety Stephen Parker and tailback Abdul Adams.
The Sooners head into a matchup Saturday with Texas knowing they may have ruined their chances of making the College Football Playoffs and another conference title.
“I’m very disappointed. There’s no doubt. I’m not dejected. I know what this team can be. We in that locker room know what this team can be,” coach Lincoln Riley said. “The fact that we’re not playing like it right now is disappointing. Absolutely, it is. I feel like we’ve got the makeup in there – I told them in there, this will be the most important game of the year for us as far as how we respond to it. We’ll look back at the end of the year and regardless of what we do, we’ll be able to point at this moment and say, ‘that’s the moment where we turned it around.’”
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Writer with Eyeamtruth.com. Story ran in The Yukon Review