OU Football Point After: We’re at Win Now or Wait till Next Year


Nine games in and there are eight W’s on the board, but the real season for OU football and the Big 12 is just now getting started.

Were it not for one sloppy outing in a game that the Sooners were heavily favored to win, Oklahoma would stand at a perfect 9-0 this week and headed to Waco, Texas, for a showdown of unbeaten in the first of three giant, season-ending games that will ultimately determine the 2015 conference champion.

Don’t get me wrong. The upcoming contest with Baylor is every bit the big game that everyone who follows the Big 12 and college football thought it would be when the season kicked off some 10 weeks ago. Clearly, the margin of error for OU heading to Waco next weekend is much less than it would have been had the Sooners survived the Red River rivalry game with Texas this season, but their season goals are still right out in front of them for the taking. And, importantly, they are playing as well right now as any of the conference contenders.

On Saturday night at home against an Iowa State team that has now lost 17 consecutive games to the Sooners, the home team capped off a robust four-game turnaround after the disappointing loss to Texas with a fourth consecutive victory by 45 or more points.

Nov 7, 2015; Norman, OK, USA; The Oklahoma Sooners take the field prior to action against the Iowa State Cyclones at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

OU put away the Cyclones of Iowa State with a 684-yard offensive explosion, the third straight week the Sooners have exceeded 600 yards on the offensive end. While quarterback Baker Mayfield and the Oklahoma offense are obviously playing at an extremely high level right now, it is the improvement on the defensive end, especially during the month of October, that is raising the most eyebrows among the Sooner faithful.

As well as Oklahoma has played over the past four weekends, though, it has to be tempered with the disclaimer that those four runaway wins came against teams that have won just four conference games combined and represent four of the worst five teams in the league this season.

The only Big 12 team the Sooners have played so far that owns a .500 record is Texas, and we don’t need to repeat what happened in that game.

Oklahoma’s 52-16 victory over Iowa State was the 95th home win under head coach Bob Stoops against only eight losses. At no point in the game were the Sooners in real danger of losing, despite falling behind 3-0 on the Cyclones’ opening possession in the game.

OU made short work of the Iowa State advantage, however, going 75 yards on its first offensive play, fueled by a little flea-flicker, razzle dazzle that ended in a downfield throw by Mayfield to a wide open Dimitri Flowers and six rapid-fire points. That pretty much set the tone for the game.

After stretching their advantage to 21-3 with three and a half minutes still remaining in the opening quarter, the Sooner offense went relatively quiet, recording only four first downs the rest of the first half.

Mayfield and Co. broke the game open 17 points in the third quarter and 31 second-half points. For the third straight game, Oklahoma played without the services of injured All-Big 12 cornerback Zack Sanchez on defense. Iowa State quarterback Joel Lanning had a tough evening throwing the football, completing less than 50 percent of his 51 passes against the Big 12’s best pass defense. To be fair, however, a number of the Cyclone incompletions were to receivers who were open and probably would have made the catch had the throw been more accurate.

Nov 7, 2015; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Sterling Shepard (3) catches a touchdown pass against the Iowa State Cyclones during the fourth quarter at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Oklahoma defensive front did an excellent job shutting down Iowa State freshman running back Mike Warren, who played his high school ball in Lawton, Okla., and came into the game averaging 119 yards per game. The Cyclones were held to just 110 net yards on the ground, with Warren getting only 43 of that total.

Here are some of the other notable developments you might find of interest from the OU win over Iowa State and the lead in to what easily will be the Sooners’ most important game of the season:

  • Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon again had big rushing games. Perine had 95 yards on the ground against the Cyclones, with Mixon adding 88 rushing yards on just eight carries. Perine, last season’s Big 12 rushing champion as a freshman, is now 194 yards away from his second consecutive 1,000-yard season.
  • Baker Mayfield’s passing stat line vs. Iowa State read 23 for 31 for 384 yards and four touchdowns. On four occasions, however, he arguably held on to the ball too long and was sacked for a loss. This is something the Sooners must clean up or they are going to find themselves in much bigger trouble in the difficult big-boy matchups that lie straight ahead.
  • Mayfield had two touchdown passes of more than 70 yards in the Sooners’ win over ISU. That ties him with former OU quarterback Landry Jones, the only other OU player with four 70-yard TD throws in the same season.
  • Five of OU’s seven touchdown drives against the Cyclones took under a minute.
  • This is the third consecutive game the Sooners have exceeded 600 yards of offense. That has only happened two other times in OU football history (in 1956 and 1971).
  • Freshman tight end Mark Andrews’ fourth-quarter 55-yard touchdown catch (on a pass thrown by Trevor Knight) was his sixth of the season, tying him with former Sooner Ryan Broyles for the most TD receptions by a freshman.
  • Oklahoma punted for the first time in the game at the start of the second quarter. That was the Sooners’ first punt in 31 previous possessions. Before then, the last time OU punted in a game was in its opening possession against Texas Tech game, three games ago.
  • The Sooners head into their date with Baylor with a 5-1 record in the conference. In those six league games, OU has outscored its opponents 293-98 and by an average score of 49-16. That leads the Big 12 in scoring defense.