Discover more from Oklahoma Columnist, by Clay Horning
Turning on a dime, Sooners get better against Cyclones as Longhorns loom
It’s not like Iowa State was playing Oklahoma tough.
Nor were the Cyclones hanging around or making a good show of it.
They were gashing the Sooners is what they were doing.
In fact, at the moment Iowa State kicker Chase Contreraz knocked home a 48-yard field goal cutting the Cyclone deficit to a single point with 9:06 remaining in the first half, here were the unfortunate plays the Sooner defense had already allowed:
• A 20-yard run from Cartevios Norton, from the Iowa State 37 to the OU 43.
• A 39-yard run from Abu Sama, from the Iowa State 25 to the OU 36.
• A 67-yard pass from quarterback Rocco Becht to Jayden Higgins that finished in the end zone.
• A 17-yard run from Sama, from the Iowa State 16 to the Iowa State 33.
Also, the Cyclones’ very next offensive snap after Contreraz’s field goal? A 22-yard pass from Becht to Jaylin Noel, from the Iowa State 25 to the Iowa State 47.
It was not good.
It was here we go again.
It wound up being 270 Cyclone yards through two quarters, 121 on the ground and 149 through the air.
It was everything Sooner fans might have feared after four games in which their team promisingly held opponents to 34 points total.
Then it was over.
Just like that.
OU may not be all the way back. It may still be chasing old demons. It may even get rocked six days from now inside the Cotton Bowl where third-ranked Texas should enter flying high.
Or the Sooners might just roll into the Texas State Fair and vault themselves into the top five because they just keep getting better and Saturday night at Owen Field, though it didn’t look like for most of a half, their 50-20 triumph over the Cyclones was just the latest example.
When had OU last found itself so dramatically after flailing so awfully without aid of halftime to mull it over?
Nebraska, 2000, when the No. 1 Huskers scored a quick 14 and never scored again? Some other contest that doesn’t leap out of memory?
The candidates are few.
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There was another play:
Later in the second quarter, the Cyclones facing third-and-2 from their own 43.
The Sooner defense had five on the line by the time the ball was snapped and a sixth on the rush a moment after.
Because OU had began solving things by bringing pressure up the middle, Becht was immediately rolling right to elude imagined pressure.
That, though, soon risked a collision with Danny Stutsman, so Becht threw sooner than tight end Benjamin Brahmer expected, Gentry Williams caught it instead and OU, up 33-20 at the time, soon added another touchdown before the half.
It was kind of magical.
It looked like a team, yet again, coming of age in real time.
It was very likely the third game OU has won this season it would have lost last season, yet the previous margins were 17 over SMU and 14 over Cincinnati.
This was 30, a blowout, if not an outward statement, an internal one, at least.
“I like how we responded,” Brent Venables said, because of course he did.
After gaining all those first half yards, Iowa State travailed just 82 on 28 snaps the rest of the way.
The Cyclones deepest post-intermission penetrations ended at the Sooners’ 37- and 35-yard lines, the first of them ending on downs and the second on the clock striking zero.
Though we’ve now gone 600 words without mentioning Dillon Gabriel and the Sooner offense, that might be because the unit’s reaching given status.
This time his incompletion total (13) might have seemed a little high, but still he completed 26, three for scores and ran for two more, so what are you going to do?
Venables said he liked the running game even though it averaged just 3.8 yards per pop, so maybe that’s a problem with the Longhorns waiting, and still it’s hard to be upset about 50 points and 523 yards of offense.
That and the whole thing began with a Billy Bowman pick six, putting the Sooners at plus 7 in the turnover department until Williams’ pick made it plus 8. And Peyton Bowen blocked his second punt, too, setting up a defensive touchdown for Trace Ford if only Ford hadn’t excitedly swiped it through the back of the end zone for a safety instead.
It’s a lot.
But a lot.
“We’re not a championship team right now, but this was another step in trying to get there,” Venables said. “I love the will and the fight and the toughness and the leadership.”
They’re a head of schedule.
Another Saturday looming, perhaps they’ll be right on time.