OU vs. Iowa State: One player, one problem, one preposterous prediction and one pick

OU vs. Iowa State: One player, one problem, one preposterous prediction and one pick

Guerin Emig: Matt Campbell has no fear of Norman and the Cyclones will have a say in Saturday night’s outcome. The Sooners, if on their game, will have a louder one.

Guerin Emig

By Guerin Emig

| Sep 28, 2023, 10:25pm CDT

Guerin Emig

By Guerin Emig

Sep 28, 2023, 10:25pm CDT

Iowa State should make Saturday night at Owen Field interesting. 

The Cyclones’ defense is the Big 12’s best statistically. Their offense is coming off a 34-point, 422-yard confidence builder against Oklahoma State. 

Matt Campbell has no fear of Norman, having won by 7, lost by 1 and lost by 7 in his three visits there as ISU head coach. 

The Clones will have a say in Saturday night’s outcome no doubt. 

The Sooners, if on their game, will have a louder one. 

Let’s break it down…

One player: OU running back Marcus Major

We last left Major asserting himself with 44 of his game-high 63 rushing yards in the decisive second half of OU’s Big 12-opening win at Cincinnati. 

He’s had a couple of injuries, but this year he’s really hungry,” fellow running back Tawee Walker said this week. “You can tell at practice, off the field, in the facility. He really wants it this year.”

Does Major get it again against Iowa State? Hard to know given OU coaches are playing coy about their running back rotation.

Let’s assume he does, however, based off that second half in Cincy. 

Let’s assume there are still gaps in Iowa State’s run defense, as rare as that is for a Jon Heacock-coached unit. The Cyclones allowed Olllie Gordon’s 71-yard run last week, and Jaziun Patterson’s 59-yard run in Iowa’s 20-13 Cy-Hawk victory Sept. 9.

Major’s longest run this season was his 19-yarder in the first half at Cincinnati. Walker has OU’s only run of 20-plus yards, a 30-yarder against SMU Sept. 9. Maybe he, not Major, is the back who softens Iowa State’s defense Saturday night.

Someone needs to. The Cyclones will surely drop numbers into coverage, true to Heacock’s form, and make OU beat them on the ground. 

Major gets first crack to do so.

One problem: ISU has the script for an upset

Oct. 7, 2017. Remember?

OU came in 4-0, ranked No. 3 and three weeks removed from winning 31-16 at Ohio State. 

Iowa State was 2-2, a 30-point underdog and quarterbacked by someone most watching at Owen Field had never heard of. 

All Kyle Kempt did that sunny afternoon was go 18-of-24 for 343 yards and 3 touchdowns, prompting a rally from a 24-10 first-half deficit to a 38-31 stunner. 

Nothing about that game made sense. The Sooners rolled up 513 yards and turned it over just once, and still became the first AP top-3 team in 208 games – 208!! – to blow a 14-point lead at home.

Playing the role of Kempt Saturday will be freshman quarterback Rocco Becht. He’s coming off a 348-yard, 3-touchdown effort to beat OSU (those numbers look familiar?).

I like him a lot,” OU coach Brent Venables said this week. “He’s instinctive. He’s athletic. He’s confident. Throws the ball well on the run. Seems to be a good leader. Likes to play. You see a personality. Their team follows him. And he’s consistent.”

Will Becht be enough to pull the upset? He’ll need a lot of help against an OU defense that appears much more capable than the one Kempt victimized six years ago. 

We’ll see if he gets it.

One preposterous prediction: The Cyclones pull an upset all right…

… It just doesn’t happen in Norman.

Texas visits Ames Nov. 18 for a game sandwiched between one at TCU Nov. 11 and the regular season finale against Texas Tech Nov. 24. A perfect spot for both a letdown and an ambush.

The letdown comes when Quinn Ewers throws 3 interceptions to take himself out of the Heisman Trophy race.

The ambush comes when Iowa State turns the trio of picks into touchdowns and removes Texas from the ranks of the unbeaten. 

Campbell’s final-gun celebration makes Ryan Day at Notre Dame look cardboard by comparison. 

That’s then. 

This is now…

One pick: Sooners 30, Cyclones 19

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Guerin Emig is a columnist for the Sellout Crowd network. Read his work at selloutcrowd.com and guerinemig.com. Reach out with feedback and/or ideas at [email protected] or (918) 629-6229. Follow him on Twitter at @GuerinEmig and Instagram at @guerin.emig. .

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