For the third year in a row, Sooners Illustrated breaks down Oklahoma’s most important games for the upcoming season. The rating system is based on the importance of a win, the strength of the opponent and a general idea of how key the game will be in terms of scheduling and performance.
It starts with the easiest game and ends up with the toughest.
2015 record: 3-9
Last year vs. OU: Oklahoma, 52-16.
Why this game is dangerous: Long winning streaks have to break eventually, and no conference team has gone longer without a win against Oklahoma than the Cyclones. First-year coach Matt Campbell built Toledo up into national recognition – 10-win season and a bowl victory. He also brought a mass of recruits over with him and signed 29 players, showing that players clearly like the young rising star. Iowa State also has a young trio of talented offensive players – running back Mike Warren (Oklahoma’s second choice after Joe Mixon), quarterback Joel Lanning and receiver Allen Lazard. There’s potential for a surprise bowl appearance for the Cyclones, and it would be the first in three years. The Cyclones would need one or two surprise wins to reach a bowl game.
Opponent to watch: The Cyclones return 14 starters, second only to Texas in the Big 12 Conference. It would be easy to pick out Warren, Lanning or Lazard as a player to watch, but they are too obvious. Keep an eye on them, but look for Kamari Cotton-Moya, the former defensive freshman of the year who missed the majority of the 2015 season with injury. Iowa State already has a few solid defensive backs, including a four-star incoming cornerback, but Cotton-Moya could round out a surprisingly talented back four that looks to improve on a 435.4 yards allowed per game.
Prediction: Iowa State’s biggest problem is still an offensive line that returns just one starter to a group that wasn’t overly productive. Oklahoma’s victory is basically certain, but the Sooners’ defensive line could gain a lot of confidence against the Cyclones. Charles Walker has a field day – three sacks and four tackles for loss – as Oklahoma finishes with eight sacks. Iowa State scores late but only closing a convincing gap, 46-21.