Keys to the Game
1. Take deep shots, and execute them. There's not a perfect blueprint for Iowa State to try and replicate against Oklahoma. The Sooners have two losses, none being flukes, against two Top 25 teams, Texas and Baylor. The Longhorns and Bears took their deep shots and hit big on them.
Can Iowa State do the same? If you're reading this, you likely no the answer is a resounding "probably not," but the Cyclones have to try. Iowa State expects Oklahoma to go uber-blitz happy on them Saturday, playing Cover 1 and Cover 0 (either one deep safety or none) because the Sooners' don't respect Iowa State's deep passing game.
Fair? Yes. The Cyclones' have three long passing plays, but Quenton Bundrage did the heavy lifting on two of those, both on short routes. Iowa State is No. 115 nationally in yards per attempt, a measly 5.7. Unless they try to stretch the field on the Sooners — like they did against Oklahoma State — the Cyclones will fail miserably to establish a run game or a short and intermediate passing game.
2. Pressure Blake Bell.
In OU's seven wins, Bell is 101-for-151 (66.9 percent) with 10 touchdowns, one interceptions, an average yards per attempt of 8.05, being sacked six times (two of these games, Bell attempted five and one attempt as a backup).
In the two losses, Bell is 27-for-61 (44.3 percent) with one touchdown, four interceptions, 4.64 yards per attempt and five sacks.
When Bell is bad, he's really bad. Iowa State needs to get after him, make him throw on the run and keep the Sooners out of short-yardage situations, where Bell and Trevor Knight, resigned to the situational runner, can pick up small chunks in an easy manner.
3. Make it manageable at halftime. The Cyclones are 1-8, but they've only been out of two games at intermission (Baylor and Kansas State).
In every game but the nightmare against Baylor, Iowa State's defense has put together successful series. But when the offense can't do anything, it's only so long before even a sound defense breaks. It's incredibly demoralizing.
As mentioned above, the Cyclones would be smart to take some downfield shots. Courtney Messingham said this week he's reluctant to do that, because a miss compromises down and distance. He's correct. Too many three-and-outs leads to too many Oklahoma possessions, and the Cyclones can't expect their defense to hold on so long before it cracks.
Find a way to keep the score within 10 or even 14 at halftime and keep morale up. String together some drives, chew some clock, take a shot here or there.