AMES — Iowa State marched into Norman, Okla., last season with its backup quarterback and handed Oklahoma one of its two losses.
This season, it appears Iowa State will be rolling with another backup quarterback, but can the Cyclones replicate the results in Jack Trice on Saturday at 11 a.m.?
— Oklahoma Coach Lincoln Riley has shown through two games he has transitioned from the Heisman winner to Texas A&M transfer Kyler Murray. Murray has stepped in and picked up right where Baker 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 on the ground with 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.
“(The system) certainly fits him, he’s fitting that, and he’s owning it. I’m really impressed with the continuity that they’ve been able to carry over.”
— Oklahoma starting running back Rodney Anderson is out for the season. Anderson began starting for Oklahoma after the Iowa State game last season and didn’t look back. He rushed for 1,166 yards last season and had 125 yards and three touchdowns in four quarters this season before his injury against UCLA.
The thing about Oklahoma is it has four more running backs who 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 before Anderson took over. But Oklahoma has three other backs who have more than 50 yards rushing this season and all but Sermon have at least one rushing touchdown.
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— Relevant numbers: Oklahoma’s top two receivers, Marquise Brown and CeeDee Lamb, have combined for 410 yards receiving. Both are averaging more than 20 yards per reception ... The Sooners are an offensive force, scoring 56 points per game ... Oklahoma’s starting defense has only given up one touchdown this season.
— For the second straight season, Campbell will likely be forced to play his backup quarterback against the No. 5 Sooners. On the bright side, Zeb Noland actually has playing 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-of-10 for 43 yards in relief of 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. We’ve already covered how prolific, and frankly ridiculous, Oklahoma’s offense is and Iowa State needs to limit the Sooners.
Last season, Iowa State held Oklahoma 14 points below its scoring average. That won’t cut it this season considering OU’s ludicrous scoring pace.
Iowa State didn’t force any turnovers against Iowa. Forcing turnovers against Murray and the Sooners will be key.
— Relevant numbers — Star running back David Montgomery only had 44 yards on the ground against Iowa — he sprung a couple big runs, but they were both called back by penalties — and 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
Iowa State’s defense will play admirably, but the offense won’t have enough firepower to overcome the Sooners.
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