Breakdown: Iowa State-Oklahoma
Wallace, Cyclones will need to pass to win
Wallace, Cyclones will need to pass to win

Posted Oct 18, 2002


Cyclone Nation offers its official game prediction for this weekend's tussle with #2 Oklahoma. We're calling for the Iowa State upset, witha twist at the end.

Iowa State rush offense vs. Oklahoma rush defense

If the Cyclones can at least muster a stalemate here they should be pleased. Unfortunately, even that will be a tall order against an Oklahoma defensive front seven that features NFL talent at nearly every position. The Sooners are 25th in the nation in rush defense, and 11th in total defense. As our football insider Ben Bruns pointed out this week, this will be the best defensive front Iowa State will face this season. I suspect you will see Iowa State only run the ball just enough to keep the likes of Tommie Harris and Jimmy Wilkerson honest because the Cyclones are physically overmatched up front. Advantage: Oklahoma

Iowa State pass offense vs. Oklahoma pass defense

Oklahoma ranks 8th nationally in scoring defense at 14.8 points allowed per game and is 5th nationally in pass efficiency defense. However, the Sooners have just 10 quarterback sacks this season. That’s music to the ears of Steve Brickey and the Iowa State offense. If the Sooners fail to pressure Seneca Wallace, he’ll blister them with the intermediate passing game. If Oklahoma decides it must put the heat on Wallace by blitzing any of its three speedy linebackers, then Wallace becomes lethal when he’s on the move. It really is pick your poison here for Oklahoma. Look for the Sooners to play a lot of two-deep zone in the secondary, which means press coverage by the corners on Iowa State’s receivers with the safeties playing center field to stop the big play. Then you’ll see All-American Teddy Lehman patrol the line of scrimmage as a "shadow" to Wallace. You’ll also see Oklahoma switch coverages as often as possible to try and confuse Wallace and keep him in the pocket. That works against statue quarterbacks like Chris Weinke and Chris Simms, but it wasn’t that successful against mobile ones like Tyler Watts and Brad Smith. A key here will be the ability of Iowa State’s receivers to get into their routes cleanly coming off the line of scrimmage. If they’re able to do that, the Cyclones have something here with the best player in college football at quarterback. Advantage: Iowa State

Oklahoma rush offense vs. Iowa State rush defense

Last week the Sooners and running back Quentin Griffin abused Texas, the Big 12 leader in total defense, with a series of quick draws and traps out of their spread offensive formation. Even though the Cyclones surrendered 189 yards rushing to Texas Tech last week, which runs virtually the same offense, I’m not so sure that Griffin will be quite as effective against Iowa State. That’s because Oklahoma consistently caught the Longhorns selling out to rush the passer while eschewing rush lane discipline. Frankly, the Cyclones aren’t quite as aggressive as Texas on defense, so it’s unlikely the same ploy will work again. Nonetheless, Griffin is averaging over six yards a carry and Iowa State ranks a mediocre 54th nationally in rush defense. Advantage: Oklahoma

Oklahoma pass offense vs. Iowa State pass defense

Nate Hybl is quietly having a solid, if unspectacular, season. He ranks 36th nationally in pass efficiency and had gone over 160 pass attempts without an interception until last week. Then he tossed four picks against Texas. It remains to be seen whether he truly is a big-game quarterback. If he were to go down with an injury, than Oklahoma would be forced to go with a backup that began the season as the fourth-stringer. Iowa State’s secondary is one of the most underrated in the nation, and ranks 25th nationally in pass efficiency defense. Oklahoma’s best receiving weapon is probably All-American tight end Trent Smith, but Will Peoples and Mark Clayton are also quality targets. Still, the talent here isn’t any better than the corps of wideouts Iowa State faced against Florida State and Iowa so this looks like an even matchup. Advantage: Even

Special Teams

It was a splendid kickoff return by Antwone Savage that changed the momentum in last week’s showdown against Texas for Oklahoma. Sophomore Antonio Perkins is even better on punt returns, and has already returned two for touchdowns this season. Todd Miller is also threat on punt returns for Iowa State, but overall Oklahoma’s superior depth gives it the edge in the return and kick/punt coverage aspect of this game. However, the Cyclones may have a slight advantage in the kicking game. Adam Benike is one of the conference’s more accurate kickers, even though his range is limited to about 40 yards. Meanwhile, Tony Yelk ranks third in the Big 12 in punting with a 44.5-yard average. Advantage: Even

Coaching

Back in the day when they were both under the tutelage of Hayden Fry, a young Bob Stoops once painted Dan McCarney’s house for extra money. I don’t think Bobby is hurting for coin now. He’s arguably the top gameday coach in college football, and the last two weeks you watched him manipulate the game from the sidelines in the Sooners’ favor. He’s surrounded by one of the most innovative and energetic coaching staffs in America, including his brother Mark who serves as the defensive coordinator. Mac is guiding the Iowa State program through uncharted waters right now with an unprecedented #9 national ranking. He has also exerting his will over games at times this season, like Iowa for instance. He also has a quality staff. But Stoops’ sterling 11-1 record against top 10 foes speaks for itself. Advantage: Oklahoma

Intangibles

This may be Iowa State’s biggest advantage. Oklahoma will suffer some sort of letdown after the big win over Texas, it’


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