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Good Cop/Bad Cop: Oklahoma

Joseph Dicklin
Eli Sanders running the ball for a gain of 2 at the Iowa State vs. Oklahoma State football game on Sept. 23, 2023.

Good Cop: Owen Slinde

As Iowa State opens up its second week of Big 12 play, the team heads to Norman, Oklahoma, for its second road test of the season. This game will be what I think is the first real test against a tough Oklahoma team.

While Norman, Oklahoma, is much different from Athens, Ohio, I don’t think we’re going to have a repeat of what happened in week three.

We finally got a game where the offense played like I hoped they would play. They opened up the playbook for Rocco Becht and he did his thing, winning the Shaun Alexander Freshman of the Week Award.

It really looked like Becht felt comfortable under center. Nine incompletions, 348 yards and three touchdowns. The connection between Becht, Jaylin Noel and Daniel Jackson was fun to watch.

Eli Sanders rushed 15 times and had 58 yards, including a touchdown as well for the offense. While the run game looked better, it still has some work to do. Luckily, the passing game was great so that worked out in the end.

While the Cyclone defense looked slow and some points, they came up big when they needed to. Ben Nikkel came up with a big chase down, Beau Freyler with an interception and of course, T.J. Tampa with the game-sealing interception. It will be huge to get to quarterback Dillon Gabriel on Saturday. Gabriel has the fifth-best passing efficiency in the NCAA (197.2) so the Cyclones have to pressure him and cut down those passing lanes.

The Sooners defense is great on third downs, ranking No. 11 in the nation. It will be key for the Cyclones not to put themselves in long third-down situations if they want this one to be close. They also rank second in passes intercepted with eight, so Becht needs to be aware of his surroundings, protect the ball and to not force anything their way.

I’m hoping the offense we saw last week wasn’t a one-hit-wonder and I think the defense will be fine going forward.

While the Cyclones are double-digit underdogs and Oklahoma is loaded on both sides of the ball, I think the Cyclones can sneak one out and leave Norman, Oklahoma, with a win for the first time since 2017.

Score Prediction: Iowa State 24, Oklahoma 21

Bad Cop: Cayden Storm

The game against Oklahoma State felt like a breath of fresh air. The Cyclone offense looked great and Becht had by far the best game of his career.

But, this also came against a team that lost to South Alabama by 26 points at home.

This Saturday’s game against Oklahoma will be the first time Iowa State will have faced a truly elite team.

Iowa State enters the matchup against No. 14 Oklahoma as large underdogs and it is easy to see why.

Oklahoma is 4-0 on the season, with an average margin of victory of 38.25 points per game, and currently has the second-best scoring defense in the country.

The Sooner offense is led by Gabriel, who is having a tremendous year, racking up over 1,200 yards passing and 12 touchdowns with only one interception on the season.

This will be by far the toughest test for the Cyclone defense up until this point. The Sooners have the 10th-ranked offense in the country. Up until now the best offense the Cyclones have faced was Oklahoma State who ranked 97th.

The defense had their worst performance of the year last week against Oklahoma State. I don’t have too many glaring concerns when it comes to Heacock’s defense going forward, but they will have to play much better if they want a chance at keeping the game against Oklahoma close.

The offense on the other hand looked the best they have in the last two seasons.

Becht had a career day against the Cowboys, going 27 for 38 for 348 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. The offensive line also had a great day in pass protection as they didn’t allow a single sack.

Despite the impressive offensive performance, the running game is still a glaring weakness. The Cyclones averaged only 2.2 yards per attempt, which is the third game in a row where they were held to under three yards per rush.

The defense is in for a tough test this week and despite Becht’s breakout performance against Oklahoma State, as this will be the first time he steps into an environment this hostile. Sorry Athens, Ohio, but Norman, Oklahoma, is a whole different beast.

I think the Cyclones will hang around for a while, but Oklahoma simply has too much firepower.

Score Prediction: Oklahoma 31, Iowa State 13

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