Oklahoma football: What fans need to know about Week 5 OU vs. Iowa State

OU linebacker Brian Asamoah (24) knocks the ball away from Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy (15) during the Sooners' 28-21 win on Nov. 20 in Norman.cover
OU linebacker Brian Asamoah (24) knocks the ball away from Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy (15) during the Sooners' 28-21 win on Nov. 20 in Norman.cover /

On Saturday night at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, the Oklahoma football team and Iowa State will meet for the 89th and potentially the final time in their long gridiron series.

OU has dominated Iowa State like no other, winning 79 of the 88 games between the two teams. All that will change after this season, however, with the Sooners moving to the SEC.

The 14th-ranked Sooners have been in total control of the series with Iowa State, winning 79 of the 88 games. Oklahoma’s .909 winning percentage against the Cyclones is the best by one Power Five team against another. The Sooners are a remarkable 50-3-1 in the last 54 games versus Iowa State.

Iowa State has beaten Oklahoma just seven times in a series history that dates back to 1928. Ironically, the Cyclones won that first encounter 13-0. As dominate as the Sooners have been against Iowa State, two of the Cyclones seven all-time wins have come in the last six seasons. Iowa State snapped a 17-game losing streak with a 38-31 win in 2017 in Lincoln Riley’s debut season as OU head coach. Three years later, ISU defeated the Sooners 37-30 in Ames.

6 p.m. CT. 2-2. Saturday, Sept. 30. No. 14, 4-0. Sooners -19.5. 815. FS1. 815

In head coach Matt Campbell’s seven seasons at Iowa State, the Cyclones have played the Sooners tough every year, and in 2020 these two teams played for the Big 12 championship. That game was won by OU 27-21. In the last seven regular-season games between the two teams, the average victory margin is seven points.

With the game against Iowa State falling just ahead of the major showdown with Texas on the schedule, there is the concern that the Sooners could be looking past the Cyclones. Brent Venables told the media during his weekly press conference on Tuesday the Sooner coaches and players are well aware of what Iowa State is capable of, despite their 2-2 record, and reminded reporters that the last three times the Cyclones have come to Norman they have outscored OU 101 to 100.

Saturday’s game is scheduled for a 6 p.m. CT kickoff and will be broadcast nationally on FS1 with Jeff Levering and Mark Helfrich doing the announcing.

The Sooners have won 17 of the last 18 night games played in Norman. The one loss during that span came last season in a 41-34 loss to Kansas State.

What to know about Iowa State

Iowa State won its Big 12 home opener last weekend defeating Oklahoma State 34-27. The Cyclones come to Norman with a 2-2 season record and with the best defense in the Big 12 after four games, allowing 293 yards per game. Iowa State has gone 19 consecutive games holding opponents under 300 yards per game, the second longest active streak in the nation.

While the Cyclone defense is among the nation’s best (ranked 19th among FBS teams), the offense has been struggling. Iowa State is averaging 308 yards of total offense per game, which ranks 119th among FBS teams.

This was not the case, though, against Oklahoma State last week. The Cyclones totaled 422 yards of offense, 348 of that coming through the air from the arm of freshman quarterback Rocco Becht. Becht, who was making just his fourth career start, completed 71 percent of his passes against OSU and threw three touchdown passes. Becht’s favorite target is Jaylin Noel with 20 catches for 202 yards.

Becht is hard to bring down in the backfield. He has been sacked just once in three games.

The Iowa State run game has been virtually nonexistent this season. None of the ISU running backs averages more than 35 yards a game.

Safety Jeremiah Cooper is a player to keep an eye on when the Sooners put the ball in the air. He is a ballhawk with three interceptions already this season, one of which went for a touchdown. Also linebacker Caleb Bacon, who has two sacks, 4.5 tackles for loss and two quarterback hurries in four games.

What to know about Oklahoma

Oklahoma has won 90 percent of its games played against Iowa State. Brent Venables has an even higher win percentage against the ISU. The Sooner head coach is a perfect 8-0 going against the Cyclones as a member of the OU staff, including a 27-13 win last season in Ames.

The Sooners rank in the top-four nationally in both scoring offense and defense. OU is No. 4 in scoring offense (46.8 points per game) and No. 2 in scoring defense (8.5). Their 38.3 scoring margin is second best among FBS teams through four games. OU’s 34 total points allowed in the first four games of the season is the fewest given up since the 1993 season.

After ranking 49th and 87th in the nation, respectively, last season in third-down conversion attempts on offense and defense, Oklahoma has improved dramatically in both areas this season. OU has successfully converted 31 of its 53 third-down attempts on offense, a 59 percent success rate, fourth best in the country. On defense, the Sooners are holding opponents to just a 29 percent success rate (17 of 61), 11th best nationally.

Oklahoma has been almost as good as Iowa State at protecting quarterback Dillon Gabriel. The Sooner offensive line has allowed just three sacks in four games, and two of them came last week at Cincinnati. As a result Gabriel leads the Big 12 in passing 78 percent completions for 1227 yards), passing efficiency (197.2) and touchdown passes (12).

Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell said this week that when Iowa State wins the turnover battle, the Cyclones generally win the game. That may be tough to do against a Sooner team that has 10 takeaways on the season and ranks fourth nationally with a +1.8 turnover margin per game.

Key matchup in the game

The Oklahoma offense, led by QB Dillon Gabriel, ranked 10th in the nation (averaging 509 yards per game) against the Iowa State defense, allowing just 293 yards per game, best in the Big 12 and 19th nationally.

Striking Sooner stat

Oklahoma junior kicker Zach Schmit is averaging 8.8 points per game this season. The Sooners are allowing 8.5 points per game.


This could easily be a trap game for Oklahoma with Texas looming next weekend, but there is a major talent and depth advantage to the Sooners and this game is being played in Norman, where OU has more Big 12 championships (14) than home losses (13 out of 149 games) since the beginning of the 1999 season. Oklahoma wins 42-10.