Eli’s OU team ratings: Dillon Gabriel aces his Red River rehearsal

Eli’s OU team ratings: Dillon Gabriel aces his Red River rehearsal

A position-by-position analysis of the Sooners’ 50-20 win over Iowa State.

Eli Lederman

By Eli Lederman

| Sep 30, 2023, 10:53pm CDT

Eli Lederman

By Eli Lederman

Sep 30, 2023, 10:53pm CDT

NORMAN — Oklahoma set up the first matchup of Red River unbeatens since 2011 with a 50-20 win over Iowa State Saturday.

The 14th-ranked Sooners meet No. 3 Texas next Saturday at the Cotton Bowl.

But first, let’s talk about the win over Iowa State:

Quarterbacks

Dillon Gabriel: This was a sharp Red River rehearsal.

Gabriel impressed with his feet again. He followed his 16-yard scramble with a one-yard run for the Sooners’ first offensive touchdown. Gabriel scored his fourth rushing touchdown of the season to extend the OU lead to 28-20 in the second quarter. He finished  with 37 yards on eight attempts. 

Gabriel handled Iowa State’s Big 12-best pass defense plenty well, too. All told, he found 10 individual pass-catchers. 

He uncorked deep balls of 39, 49 and 54 yards in the first half when he went 13-of-20 for 246 yards with touchdown throws to Nic Anderson and Drake Stoops. Gabriel kept the momentum going with a 41-yard touchdown connection to Jayden Gibson 2:34 into the second half and made way for Jackson Arnold in the fourth quarter having completed 26 of his 39 passes for 366 yards, three touchdowns and his second interception of the season. 

Gabriel is the first quarterback to throw for 300-plus passing yards against Iowa State since Nov. 2021. He has recorded four 300-yard performances through five games. Gabriel had only three such outings in 12 starts in 2022. 

A concussion kept Gabriel from OU-Texas last fall. He’s firing on all cylinders heading to the Cotton Bowl next weekend. 

Jackson Arnold: Entered for the final series. Handed off twice to Tawee Walker and picked up four yards on a pair of rushing attempts. 

Running backs

Marcus Major: Got the start in the OU backfield for a second straight week. Had an early, 18-yard run negated after Walter Rouse was flagged for holding. Tallied 39 yards on 10 carries before halftime. Gained 14 yards on his first carry of the second half and closed the night as the Sooners’ leading rusher with 66 yards on 19 attempts. 

Gavin Sawchuk: The sophomore rusher who began the night with 10 carries on the season came second in the Sooners’ running back rotation. Sawchuk’s seven attempts ranked second among OU rushers and he finished the night with 20 yards rushing. 

Pass Catchers

Jalil Farooq: Caught four passes for 75 yards before halftime including a 49-yard grab with Jamison Patton draped all over him that set up Gabriel’s second TD. Farooq made one more catch after halftime in his second-most productive outing of the season. 

Nic Anderson: The second-year pass catcher is on some kind of heater. Anderson’s 39-yard, first-quarter touchdown grab marked his fifth score in nine quarters. He had two catches for 56 yards and might have had another first-half score if Gabriel had spotted him alone in the end zone in the second quarter. 

Drake Stoops: Set a new single-season, career-high on his fourth touchdown reception of the season seven seconds before halftime. Stoops’ nine targets led OU and he converted them into five catches for 32 yards. 

Andrel Anthony: One catch for 16 yards marked the Michigan transfer’s quietest performance since arriving in Norman. He dropped a pass on the goal line in the second quarter before Zach Schmit’s 46-yard field goal.

Jayden Gibson: Flashed his athleticism and some standout effort fighting through the Cyclones’ secondary on his 41-yard touchdown to open the second-half scoring. That’s touchdown No. 2 for the sophomore receiver. 

Brenen Thompson: The Texas transfer pulled down a 54-yard bomb from Gabriel for his first reception in an OU uniform and added an eight-yard reception in the second half. Thompson is going to be a weapon for the Sooners sooner or later. What opportunities might wait for him in the Cotton Bowl? 

Offensive line

Troy Everett: Stayed in the starting lineup despite Savion Byrd’s return. 

Savoin Byrd: Suited up for the first time since he exited with an injury at Tulsa in Week 3 but did not enter the game. 

Walter Rouse: Flagged for the holding call that negated Major’s first-quarter run. Replaced at left tackle by Jacob Sexton late in the first half and did not return.

McKade Mettauer: Penalized for a false start before Gabriel’s second rushing touchdown. Completely missed Iowa State Zachary Lovett on the Cyclones linebacker’s second-quarter sack. 

Defensive line

Adepoju Adebawore: On an otherwise quiet night for the defensive line, the five-star freshman made his mark again. Adebawore corralled Iowa State’s Rocco Becht in the first half for his second sack of the year. He’s making it harder and harder for the coaching staff to keep him on the sidelines.

Linebackers

Danny Stutsman: Iowa State found ways to neutralize Stutsman as others haven’t in 2023 but the junior linebacker stayed contained for only so long. Stutsman added a pass breakup, a pressure and a tackle for loss to his team-high six tackles as OU pitched a second-half shutout. 

He ran off the field with an apparent right arm injury in the second half but appeared okay on the sideline after he was evaluated by team medical staff.  

Jaren Kanak: Back in the starting lineup after leaving Cincinnati with a pulmonary contusion, Kanak made three tackles in another steady performance. Finished with three tackles. 

Dasan McCullough: Forced a hurry in the third quarter and made two tackles in his second straight start in the Sooners’ hybrid linebacker-safety, cheetah position.

Secondary

Gentry Williams: Targeted early and often and largely held up against the Iowa State passing attack. Williams collided with Billy Bowman on Jayden Higgins’ 67-yard touchdown. He made up for it with two tackles and his second interception of the season. 

Key Lawrence: The veteran safety whiffed on the ball and Iowa State’s Jaylin Noel on the 51-yard touchdown that put the Cyclones on the board. Lawrence recorded a pressure on the third down that preceded Peyton Bowen’s blocked punt. He finished as one of four OU safeties with four tackles. 

Billy Bowman: Bowman’s 44-yard pick-six on the third snap from scrimmage had the Sooners up 7-0 before some had found their seats. He was caught chasing on Noel’s touchdown and bumped into Williams on Higgins’ score after providing the initial punch. 

Peyton Bowen: Made his biggest mark on the night on special teams but added another four tackles in the secondary. 

Reggie Pearson: Returned to the secondary after a one-game absence and contributed four tackles, including one for loss. 

The Oklahoma Sooners scramble to recover a punt blocked by OU's Peyton Bowen (22) resulting in a safety in the second quarter during an NCAA football game between University of Oklahoma (OU) and Iowa State at the Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023.

The Sooners scramble to recover a punt blocked by OU’s Peyton Bowen (22) resulting in a safety in the second quarter of OU’s 50-20 win over Iowa State Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023, at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. (Nathan Fish/The Oklahoman / USA TODAY Network)

Special teams

Zach Schmit: Had been perfect on the season until his miss on a 36-yarder in the second quarter. Schmit bounced back with a make from 46 yards before halftime and hit a 30-yard field goal to extend the lead in the fourth quarter. 

Bowen and Trace Ford: Billy Bowman: What can’t the freshman safety do? Bowen tore through the line to get a hand on Tyler Perkins’ second-quarter punt. Trace Ford looked certain to fall on it for his first OU touchdown but instead knocked the ball out of the back of the end zone for a safety.

That’s two blocked punts in five games for Bowen.

Luke Elzinga: The Sooners didn’t punt until midway through the third quarter, but when they did it was Central Michigan transfer Luke Elzinga — not Josh Plaster — who took the kick. 

Elzinga’s third punt of the season went 31 yards and rolled out of bounds at the Iowa State 20. 

Plaster entered later and launched the Sooners’ second punt of the night 42 yards. 

Injury report

The Sooners were without cornerback Kani Walker and tight end Kade McIntyre in Week 5.

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Eli Lederman reports on the University of Oklahoma for Sellout Crowd. He began his professional career covering the University of Missouri with the Columbia Missourian and later worked at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette before two years writing on the Sooners and Cowboys at the Tulsa World. Born and raised in Mamaroneck, New York, Lederman grew up a rabid consumer of the New York sports pages and an avid fan of the New York Mets. He entered sportswriting at 14 years old and later graduated from the University of Missouri. Away from the keyboard, he can usually be found exploring the Oklahoma City food scene or watching/playing fútbol (read: soccer). He can be reached at [email protected].

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