OU vs. Iowa State football: Five takeaways from Sooners' win against Cyclones
NORMAN — OU kept its hopes for a return to the Big 12 Championship Game alive — and ended Iowa State’s — with a 28-21 win over the Cyclones on Saturday at Gaylord Family — Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
Here are five quick takeaways from the win:
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Hold your breath late — again
For the sixth time this season, the Sooners won by a touchdown of less, leading to plenty of nervous moments in the fourth quarter.
The Cyclones got the ball back with 1:46 remaining, and drove down to the OU 35 with 43 seconds left on a completion to tight end Charlie Kolar, a Norman native.
Kolar was quiet for much of the game until Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy zeroed in one him on their final two drives.
Kolar finished with 12 catches for 152 yards and a touchdown. Eight of those catches for 123 yards came on the last two drives.
The Sooners put the game away, though, when Pat Fields pulled down an interception off a tipped ball with 15 seconds to play.
The interception was the last of three OU takeaways.
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Williams struggles again
After Sooners’ freshman quarterback Caleb Williams broke off a 74-yard touchdown run on OU’s second play from scrimmage, it looked like he was poised for a big day.
But from there, Williams struggled to do much.
He danced around the pocket several times, passing up open receivers as he looked further downfield for openings that didn’t come. He was brought down four times for sacks, including one in the third quarter that was knocked free by Iowa State’s Craig McDonald on a blindside hit.
Luckily for the Sooners, left tackle Anton Harrison picked it up and was able to get out of the end zone to avoid the safety.
Williams finished 8 of 18 for 87 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
The Sooners threw for 96 yards overall, their fewest in the Lincoln Riley era. The last time OU had fewer passing yards came in 2014 against Kansas.
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Defensive front brings the pressure
OU’s defensive line hasn’t been very disruptive since early in the season, struggling to get to opposing quarterbacks and force quick decisions.
But the Sooners’ got after Brock Purdy from the start.
It didn’t always pay off, especially with OU’s defense missing a couple tackles, but then the group left their mark.
Isaiah Thomas had a pair of first-half solo sacks, just the second time in his career he’d had multiple solo sacks in a game.
Late in the first quarter Perrion Winfrey lowered his shoulder to knock Purdy over for a big third-down loss.
The biggest of the Sooners’ five sacks, though, wasn’t made by a defensive lineman — though a defensive lineman took advantage.
With time ticking down in the second quarter, Nik Bonitto’s rush forced Purdy from the pocket, then Key Lawrence crashed in from the secondary as Purdy was scrambling. Lawrence lowered his shoulder for a hit just as Purdy was pump faking, sending the ball bounding farther into the backfield.
Defensive tackle Jalen Redmond picked it up at the Iowa State 42 and was off to the races, with no Cyclones other than offensive linemen anywhere close to him.
The 42-yard scoop and score was the longest fumble return by an OU defensive lineman at home since 1979 and the Sooners’ first defensive touchdown of the season.
Bonitto came up with another critical sack — the Sooners’ seventh of the day — on first down with 1:16 remaining for a 9-yard loss back to the Iowa State 36.
Special teams not so special
Until the last two games, OU kicker Gabe Brkic’s had been the most reliable kicker in Sooners’ history.
But after missing both of his field-goal attempts against Baylor last week, Brkic couldn’t get back untracked against Iowa State.
He got another chance late in the first half after an OU drive fizzled out inside the Cyclones’ 10.
But Brkic’s 25-yard kick hit off the left upright and bounced forward for his third consecutive miss. Brkic had never missed back-to-back field-goal tries before the loss to Baylor.
It wasn’t just Brkic who struggled on special teams for the Sooners, though.
Eric Gray muffed a second-quarter punt and recovered. Mario Williams fumbled a kickoff out of bounds.
Then after the Sooners’ defense held Iowa State to what appeared to be a three-and-out, Matt Campbell dialed up a fake punt.
Punter Andrew Mevis ran for 29 yards on the fourth-and-seven, and just five plays later, the Cyclones scored to make it a one-possession game, 21-14, with just less than 11 minutes remaining.
OU’s seniors were honored before the game during Senior Day ceremonies, which included several annual awards.
Linebacker Caleb Kelly, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last week, and h-back/tight end Brayden Willis were honored with the Bob Kalsu Award honoring leadership, motivation and being a role model for teammates.
Safety Pat Fields, h-back/tight end Jeremiah Hall and linebacker Bryan Mead shared the Don Key Award, which honors both athletic and academic achievement.
Colt Atkinson earned the Derrick Shepard Most Inspirational Walk-On Award.
Several Sooners seniors who could return, thanks to the NCAA COVID-19 waivers granted players who played last season, did not take part in Senior Day ceremonies. That group included defensive back Justin Broiles, deep snapper Kasey Kelleher, offensive lineman Chris Murray and punters Reeves Mundschau and Michael Turk.