Oklahoma football: Four takeaways from Sooners’ 30-point win over Iowa State

Sep 30, 2023; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Dillon Gabriel (8) throws during the first half against the Iowa State Cyclones at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 30, 2023; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Dillon Gabriel (8) throws during the first half against the Iowa State Cyclones at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

Dillon Gabriel threw for 366 yards and three touchdowns and the Oklahoma football defense locked down the Iowa State offense in the second half as the Sooners rolled to a 50-20 win over Iowa State to go 5-0 on the season.

Any notion of a Sooner letdown looking ahead to Texas next weekend ended midway through the second quarter. With 9:06 remaining in the second quarter, Oklahoma was holding on to a surprising 21-20 lead over an inspired Iowa State bunch that had managed to take OU’s best shot and hang right with the Sooners.

Oklahoma struck first blood less than a minute into the game when junior defensive back Billy Bowman Jr. picked off an Iowa State pass at the Cyclones’ 44-yard line and returned it to the house to put the Sooners up 7-0.

OU, which had outscored its four previous opponents by a combined score of 70-6 in the opening quarter, scored twice more in the first quarter on a pair of 75-yard drives, one finished off by a one-yard run and the other on a 39-yard pass from Gabriel to Nic Anderson. Iowa State was not intimidated, though, by the capacity Oklahoma home crowd of 84,000-plus, mounting a pair of 75-yard TD drives of its own along with a 58-yard march that ended in a field goal to stun the crowd and keep pace with the Sooners early into the second quarter.


That’s when the game flipped on it ear and Oklahoma exerted its will and talent advantage to take full control of the game. Iowa State trailed by a single point and had 259 yards of total offense with just a few ticks over nine minutes to go in the second quarter. From that moment forward, the Sooners scored 19 unaswered points and held the Iowa State offense to just 11 yards of offense to take a commanding 41-20 advantage heading into halftime.

Over the final two quarters, Oklahoma held the Cyclones without a point, just 82 yards of offense and 352 for the game. Meanwhile, Oklahoma rolled up 523 yards of total offense, the most given up by Iowa State since yielding 529 to Texas Tech late in the 2021 season.

The Sooners themselves were held to just 10 points in the second half, but that was largely because the game was well in hand and they took their foot off the gas a little in an effort to milk clock and shorten the game.

Up next for Oklahoma, which improved to 5-0 for 13th time since 2000 and the fourth time in the last seven seasons, is the Red River Rivalry game against No. 3 Texas.

Dillon Gabriel was Dillon Gabriel

Dillon Gabriel, as usual, was a big reason the Sooners won this game by as big a margin as they did, leading the Oklahoma offense to a 50-point performance — the third time in five games OU has scored at least to points — and a 30-point win over an Iowa State defense that ranked 19th in the country coming into the game. Gabriel completed 26 of 39 passes for 366 yards and three touchdowns. He also threw his second interception of the season.

He scored OU’s second touchdown on a one-yard run in the first quarter and added another touchdown with a six-yard run in the second quarter to put OU up 28-20. Gabriel was the Sooners second leading rusher in the game with 37 yards on the ground. The 366 passing yards was the most against Iowa State since the 2021 season. The Cyclones had gone 19 consecutive games without giving up 300 or more yards in a game.

Just another productive day at the office for the second-year Oklahoma quarterback and fifth-year collegiate veteran.

A No. 1 running back still has yet to emerge

For the second straight week, redshirt senior Marcus Major handled the majority of the runnning back duties with 19 carries for 66 yards. He also caught four passes for 19 yards. The Sooners used three running backs in the game in totaling 157 rushing yards. Notably absent from the rotation this week was Jovantae Barnes. It is apparent that offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby and running backs coach DeMarco Murray are still looking for one of the backs to emerge as the clear front runner in the rotation. For now, however, the Sooners appear to be leaning on Major for that role.

Surprisingly porous OU defense flipped the switch in the 2nd half

In the first quarter alone, the Sooner defense gave up two scoring plays of more than 50 yards and several running plays that netted huge chunks of yardage. Six minutes into the second quarter, Iowa State had already amassed 259 yards of offense. From that point forward until the end of the game, however, Oklahoma made the necessary adjustments defensively, allowing no points and just 93 total yards over the final 39 minutes of the game.

Are the Sooners ready for Texas and their biggest test of the season?

Oklahoma heads into its annual rivalry game with Texas, both with matching 5-0 records. The Longhorns are an early 4.5-point favorite and probably have a slight talent advantage over the Sooners. But this is a rivalry game, and we all know that records and betting lines mean nothing when these two teams get together for their annual party in Dallas. The underdog has won this game too many times to count. It’s the only game in college football in which half of the stadium is devoted to Oklahoma fans and the other half filled and decked out in Texas school colors.

This is a much better Oklahoma team this season, though, so it is fairly certain we won’t see a 49-0 blowout like the beating Texas put on the Sooners a year ago.