Oklahoma football: Takeaways from another Sooner close encounter

The defense came ready to roll and the offense did just enough to finish off the job in a 28-21 Oklahoma football win over always dangerous Iowa State.

Had Alex Grinch’s defensive unit not played as well as it did in Saturday’s home finale at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium I’m not sure Oklahoma would have won this game. The Sooners tallied 11 tackles for loss and 7 sacks against the Cyclones to go along with a 42-yard touchdown run by Jalen Redmond off a fumble recovery and a potentially game-saving interception by Pat Fields in the red zone with under a minute remaining..

It was the school-record sixth time this season Oklahoma (10-1, 7-1) has played a one-possession game, and once again found a way to win.

Outside of a spectacular 74-yard touchdown run by quarterback Caleb Williams on the Sooners’ second play of the game, the OU offense sputtered most of the day. It was a defensive performance that stood out in a big way compared with what we saw a week ago against Baylor.

Final
Iowa State Cyclones
21
Oklahoma Sooners
28

Much-maligned Sooner defense shows up and out against tough ISU offense

Coming into Saturday’s game, the Cyclones had allowed only 12 sacks all season, the Sooners more than halved that. The OU defensive front caused havoc to a well-rounded Iowa State offensive line. It feels like ISU quarterback Brock Purdy takes a beating every time he plays against the Sooners. After a brutal and off-your-chair type hit by Perrion Winfrey, Purdy could never find a rhythm until late in the contest. It was a disturbing afternoon for the highly talented senior.

All season, the topic week after week has been: When is this so-called “much improved” defense going to turn a corner.  On Saturday, the defense turned that corner and played with an attitude and a lot of positive aggression against the Cyclones.

The Sooners looked quicker and more energetic, especially on the defensive side of the ball, in the last home game of 2021. Safety Delarrin Turner-Yell was astonishing and all over the place for the OU defensive unit, tallying 10 tackles, a fourth-down stop, and an interception late in the third quarter. The Hempstead, Texas, native missed a handful of games due to a hamstring injury but hasn’t missed a step since his return.

In what may be his last game in Owen Field, defensive tackle Isaiah Thomas made it one to remember. The senior Oklahoma native disrupted Purdy’s flow and was constantly in the backfield for the Sooners. It was a total team effort for an Oklahoma defense that continues to get doubted every week.

Once-predictable and high-powered OU offense is stalling out too frequently

The only negative point to take away from the Sooners win: The Oklahoma offense continues to have issues. Rarely, if ever, do we talk about an Oklahoma offense that struggles under Lincoln Riley, but it’s been occurring frequently the last few weeks. True freshman Caleb Williams finished 8 for 18 passing for 87 yards with one passing touchdown, a rushing touchdown, and an interception. Very unusual numbers for a Sooner offense that typically puts up big numbers through the air.

After Williams’ touchdown scamper, there was a feeling that he had found his groove, but the Cyclones defense held the big-play freshmen in check. It’s the second straight week Williams has finished with less than 200 total yards. For a second consecutive week, the first-year starting quarterback had difficulty finding open receivers, which led to several coverage sacks.

Despite the big plays not being there, the Sooners found their running game. Through two quarters, there were questions about why the Sooners were shying away from the run, but the running game made an impact in the second half.  Kennedy Brooks ran for 115 yards on 17 carries and averaged 6.8 yards per carry.

The Sooners now have a true quality win on their resume. The huge win over Iowa State sets the stage for a primetime Bedlam showdown next weekend with No. 9 Oklahoma State in Stillwater.

The Sooners will have to prepare for a Cowboys defense that has been making opposing offenses miserable this season. After the Cowboys win on Saturday over Texas Tech, it’s the sixth time this season Oklahoma State has held its opponents under 20 points. It will be a huge task for the Oklahoma offensive unit that is still trying to find its identity. The one thing we do know is it will take a complete and complementary game for the Sooners to prevail against their in-state rivals.

Oklahoma-Oklahoma State could meet again in the Big 12 Championship game, but that will only happen if the Sooners are able to take care of business in Stillwater. At stake next week is the opportunity to punch a fifth-straight ticket to the Big 12 Championship game, and even create some chaos in the College Football Playoff rankings.