No. 14 Oklahoma focuses on Iowa St with gauntlet ahead
Nov. 06, 2015
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — The toughest games on their schedule are coming up, yet No. 14 Oklahoma knows it cannot afford to overlook its next opponent.
The Sooners (7-1, 4-1 Big 12, No. 15 CFP) host Iowa State (3-5, 2-3) on Saturday, and the Cyclones are brimming with confidence. They are coming off a 24-0 win over Texas, the only team to beat Oklahoma this season.
"It should get our attention. It's a team that whooped up on Texas," said Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, who completed 27 of 32 passes for 383 yards and four touchdowns in last week's 62-7 win over Kansas before leaving after one possession of the second half. "We lost to Texas. That should be eye-popping for us. We've got to come out ready for that."
It might be natural for Sooner fans to look ahead to their big showdowns with No. 2 Baylor the following week, No. 5 TCU on Nov. 21 and their cross-state rivals, No. 12 Oklahoma State, on Nov. 28. Players are trying hard not to do that.
"Our first goal is the Big 12 championship," Mayfield said. "Each game right now is a Big 12 game. To get our goal at the end, we've got to do it one game at a time. We know the last three games are against our toughest opponents. But right now, we have Iowa State."
For the Cyclones, coach Paul Rhoades is eager to see what his team can do against one of the Big 12's heavyweights.
"In a league that has three undefeated teams sitting at the top of it, it's easy to make the argument right now that Oklahoma is playing as well as any of them," Rhoades said. "Our kids look forward to the challenge of going down to Norman and competing with them."
Iowa State running back Mike Warren leads the nation's freshmen with 954 rushing yards and 119.3 yards per game, and is second in yards per carry (6.2). His 157 yards and a touchdown on 32 rushes against Texas last week marked his fifth 100-yard game out of the last six, including a 245-yard performance against Texas Tech on Oct. 10 that still stands as the Big 12's most productive of the season.
NO PUNTER NECESSARY
Oklahoma, which amassed 710 yards of total offense, did not need to punt at all against Kansas, the first time that has happened under coach Bob Stoops, who took over in 1999. The Sooners have gone 27 straight possessions without punting, going back to the opening drive of its previous game, a 63-27 win over Texas Tech.
LEARNING ON THE FLY
Freshman Joel Lanning will make his second straight start for the Cyclones after replacing senior quarterback Sam Richardson during the game before, a 45-27 loss to Baylor in which Lanning helped Iowa State outscore the Bears 27-10 from midway through the second quarter. Last week against Texas in his first career start, Lanning completed 19 of 37 passes for 188 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing for 64 yards on 13 carries.
"I think leadership and competitiveness is the number one thing that we saw out of him," Rhoads said of Lanning. "He made plays, both running and throwing."
AIR RAID ON DISPLAY
Mayfield continues to thrive, as his performance against Kansas demonstrated. Overall, he has completed 69.7 percent of his passes, with his 2,470 passing yards ranking 14th in the nation, and his 10.1 yards per attempt ranking second.
"Baker Mayfield, again, was exceptional in throwing the football, decision-making, checking plays, making decisions to throw the ball outside or hand it off," Stoops said.
Changing quarterbacks wasn't the only major move that Rhoads made recently with the offense. Last week, before the Texas game, he replaced offensive coordinator Mark Mangino, promoting Todd Sturdy to take over the job, and the results were impressive.
"There was a rhythm that was established out there on the field," Rhoads said of the difference with Sturdy. "I think he took advantage of his personnel, of Joel's abilities. We had great energy last week as a football team."