Berry’s predictions: Can Iowa State’s Matt Campbell crack the OU code again?

Berry’s predictions: Can Iowa State’s Matt Campbell crack the OU code again?

Berry Tramel: OU-Iowa State should shape up Saturday as a one-sided farewell to the series. But beware: Matt Campbell has broken the Sooners’ string of dominance.

Berry Tramel

By Berry Tramel

| Sep 27, 2023, 9:57am CDT

Berry Tramel

By Berry Tramel

Sep 27, 2023, 9:57am CDT

In the six seasons before Matt Campbell became the Iowa State football coach, the Sooners beat the Cyclones by these scores:

52-0 in 2010.

26-6 in 2011.

35-20 in 2012,

48-10 in 2013.

59-14 in 2014.

52-16 in 2015.

Campbell’s first Cyclone team lost 34-24 to OU, then his second Cyclone team stunned the mighty 2017 Sooners 38-31.

The results since? OU 37-27, OU 42-41, ISU 37-30, OU 27-21, OU 28-21, OU 27-13.

One of the nation’s most lopsided series has turned downright competitive. Perhaps the Big 12’s most consistently-competitive series.

Now comes the final game in a series that began in 1928 and before Campbell was dominated by the Sooners, 73-5-2.

Iowa State, we know how they are going to come in and how they are going to attack us,” said OU cornerback Woodi Washington. “They have a good defense, and obviously in the Big 12, they’ve been probably the best defense over the past couple of years. We’re just trying to change the narrative and get that spot.”

This game seems more likely to be a blowout than any since Campbell’s arrival. The Cyclones are 2-2 and lost 10-7 at Ohio U. before beating OSU 34-27 last week. The 4-0 Sooners are riding high with a resurgent defense.

But the Cyclones have OU’s attention.

“They’re playing really really well again on defense,” Brent Venables said. “No. 1 in the Big 12 in total defense, and they’ve been the standard on defense the last five years or so in the conference. They do a fantastic job, Coach (Jon) Heacock and his staff on defense. I’ve been really impressed with what I’ve seen from their football team.”

The Cyclones have fought through a betting scandal that cost them four players, including returning quarterback Hunter Dekkers and tailback Jirehl Brock.

“Certainly considering some of the off-the-field issues that they’ve been going through, they’ve done much better than probably a lot of people anticipated,” Venables said. “And they’re getting better each week. No surprise. Coach Campbell and his staff have done a fantastic job since he’s been there.”

This should shape up as a one-sided farewell to the series. But beware the Cyclones. Campbell has cracked the code of Sooner dominance over the Cyclones. 

Iowa State at Oklahoma: Sooners 34-14. OU fans hope the only drama is which tailback duo gets the duty against the Cyclones. Marcus Major/Tawee Walker vs. Southern Methodist, Javontae Barnes/Gavin Sawchuk vs. Tulsa, back to Major/Walker vs. Cincinnati.

Kansas at Texas: Longhorns 35-30. When the Jayhawks went to Austin two years ago and pulled off that upset miracle, we figured that Lance Leipold might be different.

West Virginia at Texas Christian: Mountaineers 21-20. We thought WVU coach Neal Brown might not survive September since a 1-4 record was possible. Instead, the Mountaineers are 3-1 and could get to 4-1 with an upset.

Cincinnati at Brigham Young: Cougars 23-17. BYU’s first Big 12 home game is against a fellow newcomer. That’s a little bit of a bummer. 

Baylor at Central Florida: Knights 31-20. UCF’s first Big 12 home game is against a Big 12 founding member — and the Knights should prevail.

Houston at Texas Tech: Red Raiders 28-24. Tech might struggle without injured quarterback Tyler Shough, who could miss eight weeks.

Louisiana State at Ole Miss: Tigers 29-18. Lane Kiffin’s team was a big disappointment at Alabama, not whacking the wounded Crimson Tide. Upsetting LSU could make up for that.

Florida at Kentucky: Wildcats 21-18. The Gators had won 31 straight in the series until Mark Stoops’ ‘Cats won in 2018. Now Kentucky has won three of five from Florida.

Texas A&M vs. Arkansas in Arlington: Aggies 27-24. Old Southwest Conference rivalry has become a well-contested series at JerryWorld, which has hosted 11 of the last 14 games between the schools. 

Georgia at Auburn: Bulldogs 38-13. The Southeastern Conference is not above trashing tradition. The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry was staged in 83 straight Novembers until 2020. It’s been in October for the last three years and now moves to September.

South Carolina at Tennessee: Volunteers 35-15. Gamecock quarterback Spencer Rattler is off to a good start, despite Carolina’s 2-2 record. Rattler has seven touchdown passes, two interceptions and 74.2 percent completions.

Alabama at Mississippi State: Crimson Tide 26-10. Old-fashioned Alabama. Don’t give an inch, score just enough to win without drama.

Missouri at Vanderbilt: Tigers 24-12. Some future SEC Championship Game matchups will be determined by who gets to play Vandy and who doesn’t. 

Michigan at Nebraska: Wolverines 28-12. Matt Rhule could use a big upset to validate his rebuilding efforts in Lincoln. But this one seems unlikely.

Penn State at Northwestern: Nittany Lions 33-0. From the hard-to-believe category, Penn State is 2-2 against the Wildcats the last 10 years.

Indiana at Maryland: Terrapins 30-13. Maryland is 4-0, without a notable victory. Soon it will be 5-0, without a notable victory.

Michigan State at Iowa: Hawkeyes 16-7. These are the impossible-to-believe numbers from Iowa’s offense in a 31-0 loss at Penn State: four turnovers, four first downs, 76 total yards and 33 plays. The Hawkeyes punted seven times. Which means their offense ran 22 plays which resulted in it not having to leave the field.

Illinois at Purdue: Purdue 27-20. Illinois looks weak in Bret Bielema’s second season. The Illini got to 2-2 last week with a 23-17 survival of Florida Atlantic, which was playing with a backup quarterback after Casey Thompson’s season-ending injury.

Louisiana at Minnesota: Golden Gophers 31-24. Minnesota lost to Northwestern last week. Most of us figured the Wildcats would go winless in the Big Ten.

Wagner at Rutgers: Scarlet Knights 35-6. Rutgers seems to be much improved. The Knights hung tough with Michigan for much of last Saturday.

Utah at Oregon State: Utes 23-20. Here’s a bummer for college football fans in Utah. This interesting game is on Friday night. Kicking off 75 minutes later is BYU-Cincinnati. So Utah fans get only a sliver of time to cheer against BYU, and BYU fans get the same for the Utes.

Southern Cal at Colorado: Trojans 55-35. Deion Sanders returns to the land of teams that won’t pulverize his team into the ground.

Oregon at Stanford: Ducks 41-10. There is no middle ground in the Pac-12. Eight good teams. Four not-good teams.

Washington at Arizona: Huskies 42-16. Ditto.

Arizona State at California: Sun Devils 24-23. ASU looked much more lively at home against Southern Cal (a 42-28 loss) than it looked at home against OSU (a 27-15 loss).

Notre Dame at Duke: Fighting Irish 21-17. Perfect spot for the Blue Devils. Notre Dame coming off an epic loss to Ohio State.

Clemson at Syracuse: Orange 25-24. Clemson is like the boxer that’s been knocked down, got up and just got hit in the nose again. Do the Tigers go down?

Louisville at North Carolina State: Wolfpack 22-20. If the Cardinals win, they go unbeaten into a showdown against Notre Dame next week. 

Pittsburgh at Virginia Tech: Hokies 17-16. Rough start for the Panthers; Pitt has lost at home to Cincinnati and at West Virginia, games the Panthers clearly had to think were winnable.

Virginia at Boston College: Cavaliers 25-14. The loser probably finishes last in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Bowling Green at Georgia Tech: Yellow Jackets 38-20. The Rambling Wreck has a fighting chance at six victories.

Temple at Tulsa: Golden Hurricane 28-27. At Northern Illinois, TU coach Kevin Wilson was pleased that his Golden Hurricane didn’t succumb to a post-OU letdown.

Boise State at Memphis: Tigers 33-23. Another excellent mid-major matchup. Good on both schools for playing a game like this.

Alabama-Birmingham at Tulane: Green Wave 28-19. Tulane quarterback Michael Pratt returned from injury last week. Too bad he missed the Ole Miss game.

South Florida at Navy: Midshipmen 21-19. Navy, 1-2, played Memphis tough, so maybe the Middies aren’t as bad as they looked against Notre Dame.

East Carolina at Rice: Owls 26-21. Rice was having quite the season until a 42-29 loss at South Florida last week.

Charlotte at Southern Methodist: Mustangs 41-30. SMU lost by 17 at OU (28-11) and by 17 at TCU (34-17).

Abilene Christian at North Texas: Mean Green 33-23. For comparison’s sake, the Central Arkansas team that scared OSU in the season opener? Those Bears beat Abilene Christian 52-17.

San Diego State at Air Force: Falcons 31-13. The Academy is a darkhorse to make the Cotton Bowl. Air Force is 4-0 and has looked strong.

Nevada at Fresno State: Bulldogs 34-17. Former OSU quarterback Shane Illingworth started five games for the Wolf Pack last season but hasn’t played in 2023. Nevada is quarterbacked by Colorado transfer Brendon Lewis.

Hawaii at Nevada-Las Vegas: Rebels 28-18. The battle of the tourist destinations.

New Mexico at Wyoming: Cowboys 42-10. Wyoming’s program historically is much better than New Mexico’s. And that’s certainly true today. What’s not known is why, other than just hiring the right people.

Utah State at Connecticut: Aggies 28-26. The shine is off the Huskies, after Jim Mora Jr.’s 2022 success. Connecticut is 0-4. 

Utah Tech at Colorado State: Rams 31-14. Utah Tech was Dixie State before the school changed its name for political-correctness reasons and common-sense reasons.

South Alabama at James Madison: Dukes 32-17. Remember when South Alabama seemed to be the next Ohio State, the way the Jaguars ran roughshod in Stillwater two weeks ago? South Alabama lost at home to Central Michigan last week.

Old Dominion at Marshall: Thundering Herd 27-7. Marshall is 12-4 over the last two seasons, with wins over Notre Dame and Virginia Tech.

Coastal Carolina at Georgia Southern: Eagles 27-23. The Chanticleers lost at Georgia State last week, the first sign that Coastal really misses Jamey Chadwell, off to coach Liberty. 

Troy at Georgia State: Trojans 21-12. Troy needs to pile up Sun Belt wins after losing to James Madison.

Appalachian State at Louisiana-Monroe: Mountaineers 34-24. Appalachian State already has two (close) losses. That’s not typical of the Mountaineers. 

Texas State at Southern Mississippi: Bobcats 31-3. G.J. Kinne, former Tulsa quarterback, has Texas State a Sun Belt contender in his first year coaching the Bobcats.

Arkansas State at Massachusetts: Red Wolves 27-17. Arkansas State beat Southern Miss last week and might win this week. Maybe the Red Wolves, 73-0 losers at OU, aren’t the worst team I’ve ever seen.

Last week: 46-12. Season: 211-46.

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Berry Tramel is a 45-year veteran of Oklahoma journalism, having spent 13 years at the Norman Transcript and 32 years at The Oklahoman. He has been named Oklahoma Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sports Media Association. Born and raised in Norman, Tramel grew up reading four newspapers a day and began his career at age 17. His first assignment was the Lexington-Elmore City high school football game, and he’s enjoyed the journey ever since, having covered NBA Finals and Rose Bowls and everything in between. Tramel and his wife, Tricia, were married in 1980 and live in Norman near their daughter, son-in-law and three granddaughters. Tramel can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at [email protected].

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