"Jason cannot play much better – he's playing at an incredible level," said Sooner head coach Bobby Stoops. "Our group of receivers were outstanding and the defensive unit was sharp."
The first half proved to be a frustrating one for ISU. When the game was in doubt, Dan McCarney saw his team get a big halfback pass from Michael Wagner to Lance Young for 39 yards only to see the drive stall on downs. The Cyclones also were penalized on a fake punt pass that would have given the offense a fresh set of downs, and wide receiver Jack Whitver fumbled on another long pass play from Austin Flynn.
"They came up with some really big plays, and when we felt like we had a chance, there were some things going and we hit the halfback pass – we just didn't finish the drives," said the Cyclone coach. "There were times in the game when we felt like we were hanging in, especially in the first half. It didn't feel like it should have been 22-0 in the first half. It felt like we were playing them tough."
After giving up the late touchdown in the second quarter, ISU's night continued on a downhill slope. White hit Will Peoples on a screen pass for 45 yards, his fourth scoring pass of the night, with 10:50 left in the third quarter to make it 29-0.
In danger of being held scoreless for the first time since 1991, the Cyclones managed to get on the board early in the fourth quarter when JaMaine Billups picked off a White pass and returned it 77 yards for a touchdown. It was little consolation, however, for the senior safety.
"We just made too many mistakes throughout the course of the game," said Billups, who recorded a game-high 11 tackles and one pass breakup to go along with his interception return. "We had some opportunities to make plays and didn't make them. We need to correct those mistakes and make some other adjustments heading into next week's game with Texas Tech."
Unfortunately for McCarney, he may be without another starter come Saturday's tilt on Lubbock. Center Luke Vander Sanden went down with a knee injury in the first half, and will have an MRI on Monday. The junior has already broken bones in both legs last season, but now could be lost for the 2003 campaign. Jason Berryman also was lost for the game early in the first quarter.
"We're getting shorthanded right now and will coach the heck out of the kids that are available and try to move on," McCarney said. "We'll face one of the hottest offensive teams in the country this week down in Lubbock." Flynn's night ended after he sustained a bruise knee in the fourth quarter. The injury is not expected to keep him out of next week's game, McCarney said.
The ISU coach went into the decision to keep his young starting quarterback in the game.
"We're trying to get Austin as much experience," McCarney said. "He's only playing in his fifth college game. He needs experience. We were trying to get something in the second half to build on with the football team. It was really getting out there and we were trying to get something. We had a chance to make some plays and maybe go down and put some points on the board."
But even with the added exposure, Flynn couldn't find many positives to build on. The redshirt freshman completed just 6-of-17 passes for 88 yards and two interceptions. OU's defense sacked him six times. He added 19 carries for 49 yards.
ISU, reeling from a three-game losing streak to ranked foes, will head to Lubbock for a Saturday evening game against the Red Raiders.