Tough test awaits Cyclones in ‘Sooner’ land

Iowa State wide receiver Dondre Daley attempts to hurdle a Oklahoma defender on Nov. 3 at Jack Trice Stadium. Iowa State would go on to lose to Oklahoma 34 to 24.

Jack Macdonald

When Iowa State travels to Norman, Oklahoma on Saturday to face No. 3 Oklahoma, there’s one thing that will be on the Cyclones’ mind — containing No. 6, Baker Mayfield.

“When you look at [Oklahoma], everything revolves around two things that elite offenses have and that’s an elite quarterback and offensive line,” said coach Matt Campbell.

Quick reminder, Mayfield’s the quarterback that is likely to be in New York when the Heisman Trophy is awarded to the nation’s top player. He’s also the quarterback that tore through the Iowa State defense last year for 328 passing yards and four touchdowns en route to a 34-24 win. 

“It’s a different team; they’re a different team and we’re a different team,” said defensive coordinator Jon Heacock. “You just try to build off of the things that you’re doing. You look at last year’s tape, but again they’re a completely different football team than they were a year ago and really so are we.”

However, Iowa State has a defense in its arsenal that held Texas to seven points last Thursday, which is an impressive feat considering the Longhorns put up 24 points against then No. 4 Southern California. 

Thus far, the Iowa State defense has held the opposing offenses to an average of 24 points, with the one outlier being the Iowa game where it allowed 44. 

However, the Cyclones haven’t faced a team like Oklahoma, who can dismantle a team on both sides of the ball. Iowa State does match up with the Sooners at nearly every skill position on offense. 

At wide receiver, both feature five players with at least 100 receiving yards, but the Sooners have four over 200 yards, compared to Iowa State’s two.

Oklahoma is led by tight end Mark Andrews. The redshirt junior has accumulated 305 receiving yards in just four games and is averaging nearly 19 yards per reception. Flip to Iowa State, and it’s Hakeem Butler leading the Cyclones with 296 receiving yards for three touchdowns. 

Then move to the running back position, where both have juggernaut backs that can change the course of a game with one run. In the Sooners’ case, they have three guys that have over 100 rushing yards, which is unheard of in football.

One key piece for Iowa State will be Jacob Park. Park is coming off of a performance where his completion percentage was under 50 percent and three interceptions, a game high this season.

“I saw some really good things and I think we saw certainly some opportunities that we perhaps missed,” said offensive coordinator Tom Manning on the play of Park.

Quarterback is the one position at which they clearly outman the Cyclones. With Mayfield under center, the Sooners boast one of the toughest offenses in the Big 12, which they showed when they hung Baylor for 49 points. 

However, for the Cyclones, they are playing a team where one player can change the game. That’s why Oklahoma is the No. 3 team in the country and when there is an all-around balanced offense, that is lethal. Very lethal. 

“There is really no weak link from where you’re at structurally,” Manning said. “[Oklahoma] is extremely sound and talented and obviously that defense is a big reason why they’ve had so much success over the years.”