Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops preached it the last 14 days. His players followed his lead. For the Sooners to improve during their final five regular season games, it was going to have start with the basics.
The fundamentals, doing the little things correctly. OU didn’t play a perfect game against Iowa State, but the Sooners showed signs of what they were in the first month of the season in a 59-14 victory against the Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium.
Through the first three games of the season, OU looked like a national championship contender. Somewhere along the way, the Sooners got off track. And it’s said you can’t win a game after the first quarter, but OU essentially did.
OU had 274 yards of offense in the first quarter, the seventh most in team history and led 21-0. Any chance of lamenting about what could have been against Kansas State was gone in a heartbeat.
“It was all about preparation,” said tight end Blake Bell, who had two catches for 22 yards and two touchdowns. “We had a great week of practice. Everybody did a great job of stepping up and making plays.”
Quarterback Trevor Knight threw for three touchdowns and ran for three more and accounted for 376 total yards (230 passing, 146 rushing).
Knight led the team rushing, but he was far from the only OU player to make an impact in the ground game. The Sooners rushed for a ridiculous 510 yards on 59 carries, averaging 8.6 yards per carry against Iowa State.
A lot of people, including some OU fans, are going to point to the opponent. Iowa State is no TCU. The Cyclones aren’t the Wildcats. However, if OU (6-2, 3-2 Big 12) was looking for some confidence heading into next weekend’s showdown against Baylor, mission accomplished.
OU led 35-7 at half and finished the game with 751 total yards of offense, the most in the Bob Stoops era. And did almost all of that without star wide receiver Sterling Shepard. The junior caught the first pass from scrimmage for 46 yards but strained his groin and didn’t return. Stoops said after the game he could have returned if it was necessary.
Next week will be necessary as the Sooners get another chance to try to make an impression on the national stage against the one-loss Bears.
The defense, much maligned during the month of October, never let the Cyclones get into a rhythm. Third down efficiency has been a crutch for the Sooners, but OU managed to limit Iowa State to 6-of-21 on third and fourth downs.
This game wasn’t a statement from the Sooners, but they finally did what they’re supposed to do once again versus a team it should beat. There were no scary moments. There was never an indication that OU wasn’t going to get the job done.
OU was staggered in October, losing two games by a combined five points, but OU has still never lost back-to-back Big 12 games under Stoops. The motto has been one game at a time in the last two weeks. No. 1 was done as decisively as you can possibly do, and that’s what everybody was expecting and hoping for. Now it’s time for the Bears to see just how many strides have been made.