Iowa State (1-8) at (22) Oklahoma (7-2)
Saturday, November 16, 12 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: The 22nd-ranked Oklahoma Sooners will play their final home game of the season on Saturday afternoon, as they welcome the Iowa State Cyclones to Memorial Stadium for a Big 12 Conference clash.
Iowa State's season has been a struggle from the start, the team winning just one of its initial nine contests while sitting at the bottom of the Big 12 standings at 0-6. Its campaign has been especially disappointing considering that it had qualified for bowl games in each of the past two seasons. The Cyclones suffered a 21-17 home loss to TCU last weekend for their six straight defeat.
"I wish I could put into words the pain associated with a loss like this," Iowa State coach Paul Rhodes said following the TCU defeat. "All those young men and everybody in the program (are) working so hard for success."
Oklahoma's hopes for a Big 12 title came crashing down in its last game, as the team dropped a 41-12 decision at first-place Baylor on Nov. 7.
"We had a tight game with four minutes left in the first half, and we had too many penalties defensively," OU coach Bob Stoops said. "We had a stop on third down, and they got the ball back and we lined up off sides. We had two of those that led to scores. We didn't play nearly smart enough in those areas. Overall, they just outplayed and out coached, and I mean all of us together."
Despite the loss, the Sooners are still an impressive 7-2 on the season and will be heading to a bowl game for the 15th straight season under Stoops.
In terms of the all-time series, it has been complete and utter domination on Oklahoma's part, as it has gone 70-5-2 versus the Cyclones, which includes wins in each of the last 14 meetings.
In a high-scoring Big 12, it's no surprise why Iowa State is sitting in last place considering its offense generates just 22.4 points and 332.1 yards per game.
Grant Rohach took over as the team's starting quarterback a few weeks ago, replacing Sam Richardson, and the redshirt freshman has experienced some growing pains by completing just 50 percent of his passes for 398 yards with two touchdowns and three picks. Last week's loss to TCU was another lackluster outing (18-of-38, 148 yards), but Rohach doesn't blame his lack of experience for his poor play.
"I think we're past the nervous point and getting rattled because it's my first time in there," Rohach said. "I just didn't throw good balls."
Aaron Wimberly garners the most work out of the ISU backfield with 100 carries for 416 yards and two touchdowns. Although no longer the primary signal caller, Richardson (347 yards, TD) is still called upon for his legs, as he ran in a score last week.
Quenton Bundrage is the top target out wide with 32 receptions for 454 yards, and he has stepped up his play in the red zone with six touchdowns.
The Cyclones' offensive woes are only the start of their overall issues this season, as they also boast the Big 12's worst defense (37.8 ppg, 465.3 ypg).
One bright spot for the unit has been the play of Jeremiah George, who is one of the nation's top tacklers with 102 stops to go along with 9.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks and two interceptions. Jacques Washington is also in the midst of a stellar campaign with 85 tackles.
As for Oklahoma, it ranks in the middle of the conference with regard to offensive production (28.9 ppg, 413.0 ypg), but it fell flat against Baylor the last time out, amassing just 237 total yards and 12 points in the embarrassing defeat.
"We were horrible on third-and-shorts, fourth-and-shorts and goal line," Stoops said. "You've got to make those. We didn't execute near well enough to give ourselves a chance."
Blake Bell tossed a pair of picks against Baylor, but his touchdown (11) to interception (five) ratio this season is still impressive. He has completed 60.4 percent of his passes for 1,498 yards, while rushing for 250 yards, but after running for 11 TDs in 2012 and 13 in 2011, he has yet to find the end zone on the ground this year.
The Sooners' backfield split with Brennan Clay and Damian Williams has been largely effective. Clay has 557 yards (5.8 ypc) and has scored three touchdowns, while Williams (425 yards) has plunged into the end zone five times.
At receiver, both Jalen Saunders (41 receptions, 505 yards) and Sterling Shepard (33 receptions, 391 yards) have caught five touchdowns apiece, although the team could be without Shepard in this one after he suffered a mild concussion against Baylor.
The Sooners have been known for their stout defense during Stoops' tenure, and the trend has continued in 2013 as they allow just 21.2 points and 330.3 yards per game.
Frank Shannon leads the unit with 68 tackles, while Charles Tapper anchors the defensive line with 7.0 TFL and 4.5 sacks. Gabe Lynn has been active in the turnover battle with three interceptions and a fumble recovery, and Julian Wilson has a pair of picks.
Coming off a demoralizing loss, Oklahoma is fortunate it has a home matchup against a last-place team. Expect the Sooners to get healthy against a Cyclones squad that can't seem to get out of its own way at the moment.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oklahoma 41, Iowa State 20
11/14 16:04:10 ET