The no. 9 Oklahoma Sooners will try to keep their College Football Playoff hopes alive this weekend when they play host to the Iowa State Cyclones. Kickoff is set for 8:00 EST on Saturday, November 9 at Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. The game will be televised in primetime for a national audience on Fox.
According to the Week 11 college football odds, Oklahoma is favored by 13.5 points at home. The game also has an over/under of 67.5 points.
The Sooners had last weekend off to digest the 48-41 loss to Kansas State they suffered the previous week. It was a significant setback for an Oklahoma team that started the season 7-0 and was poised to return to the College Football Playoff for the third straight year. With the loss, the Sooners are squarely on the outside of the CFP picture.
Of course, there’s still plenty of time left in the season for Oklahoma to climb into the top-4. It’s just going to take a little bit of outside help. First and foremost, the Sooners need to handle their own business down the stretch against a challenging schedule that also includes road trips to Baylor and Oklahoma State. A second loss would surely take Oklahoma out of the CFP picture and could get in the way of the Sooners playing in the Big 12 Championship Game.
The Cyclones, meanwhile, are also trying to bounce back from a loss, falling to Oklahoma State at home two weeks ago. Iowa State had been on a roll, winning three in a row, before last week’s loss, which stopped them dead in their tracks. On the bright side, ISU needs just one more win to secure a bowl bid for a third straight year. They are also within striking distance of a spot in the Big 12 title game.
Iowa State’s problem is they play a difficult schedule coming down the stretch. After this week’s road trip to Norman, the Cyclones still have to play Texas and a top-20 Kansas State team. One more loss probably takes them out of the running for a conference title, making this week’s game the biggest of Iowa State’s season.
The good news is the Cyclones only have to go back two years for proof that they can beat Oklahoma. Iowa State upset the Sooners 38-31 in Norman in 2017 and gave them another tough game last year in Aimes. Of course, that game in 2017 season is Iowa State’s only win over Oklahoma since 1990, so wins against the Sooners have been few and far between.
Everyone is entitled to a bad day every now and then. The Sooners had one a couple of weeks ago against Kansas State, but I don’t think that will become a regular occurrence. Back at home, I think it’ll be business as usual for the Sooners. That means another comfortable win, so I’ll eat the points and take Oklahoma to win by at least two touchdowns.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m actually a little concerned with the Iowa State defense. A year ago, I would have gladly taken the Cyclones to beat a two-touchdown spread against anyone in the country. But after last week’s loss, it’s clear the ISU defense has taken a small step back from last year. My biggest concern is that they allowed three touchdowns on plays of 50 yards or more last game against Oklahoma State. That’s a red flag for any defense, especially ahead of a game against Oklahoma.
The Sooners are all about creating big plays on offense. Their top four rushers all average at least seven yards per carry. Meanwhile, Jalen Hurts is averaging better than 13 yards per pass on the season with three of his receivers averaging better than 20 yards per catch. The Oklahoma offense is always a threat to create an explosive play, which is why they put so much pressure on opposing defenses. I’m not ready to sell all of my stock in the ISU defense, but last week’s performance has me a little worried.
If the Cyclones want to keep this game within two touchdowns, it’ll be up to their offense to do it. ISU quarterback Brock Purdy has had a good season, but there have been plenty of ups and downs. He’s thrown six interceptions over five Big 12 games, including three in their last game against Oklahoma State. Part of the problem is he was forced to throw the ball 62 times. He might be forced to do that again if the ISU defense can contain Oklahoma’s offense, which might not bode well for the Cyclones.
The biggest factor in this game could be the Oklahoma defense. The Sooners have been surprisingly good on that side of the ball for most of the season, only to struggle against Kansas State. But I’m going to chalk it up to one bad day and nothing more. Playing at home coming off a loss, the Sooners should be eager to get back on the field and have a good game. If the Oklahoma defense can just have a little success against the ISU offense, the OU offense should be able to do enough to cover the spread.