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(Saturday, November 26th)
Final Score: (12) Oklahoma 26, Iowa State 6
Norman, OK (Sports Network) - Blake Bell closed two drives with short touchdown runs and Oklahoma's defense made sure Iowa State didn't stage another upset, as the 12th-ranked Sooners stifled the Cyclones in a 26-6 victory.
Michael Hunnicutt connected on all four field goal attempts for the Sooners (9-2, 6-2 Big 12), who will head to Stillwater next weekend for a showdown with Oklahoma State.
The contest will decide the conference title, as the Cowboys are 7-1.
Their only loss came at the hands of Iowa State, which scored a 37-31 upset last Friday to spoil Oklahoma State's perfect season and national championship hopes.
With losses to Texas Tech and Baylor, Oklahoma was already out of the running for a spot in the BCS title game. But Saturday, the Sooners scored 20 points in the second quarter and shut out the Cyclones in the second half to ensure a victory.
"Even when Iowa State made some plays, I am really happy with how they responded and handled adverse conditions," Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. "It's good to see them smile. It's been a tough week, after an emotional loss last week. With that being said, we still have a Big 12 Championship to play for."
Jared Barnett passed for 125 yards and a touchdown for Iowa State (6-5, 3-5), but completed only 13-of-28 throws and was intercepted once. That came during the second quarter, when the Sooners grabbed control by scoring four times and the Cyclones couldn't seem to help themselves.
The Sooners presented enough of a challenge already. They started a drive at their own 21 with about 13 minutes to play in the half, and advanced into Iowa State territory in two plays -- Landry Jones' 20-yard completion to Dejuan Miller, and his 15-yard strike to Kenny Stills.
Jones completed two more passes later in the drive to set up a 1st-and-goal at the seven. But Iowa State committed an offsides penalty -- the first of several missteps by the Cyclones in the quarter -- to put the ball at the three. Bell ran into the end zone on the next play.
Iowa State was forced to punt on its next possession, but again the Cyclones were beset by poor play. A fourth-down false start penalty moved the ball back five yards into Iowa State territory, and Oklahoma took over at its own 32 after a short punt went out of bounds.
The Sooners ran the ball exclusively on their ensuing drive, and the result was the same -- a Bell touchdown. Trey Franks began the series with a 43-yard burst, and Bell closed it with a one-yard plunge on 3rd-and-goal.
It was still a close game at that point -- 17-6 with 3:22 remaining -- and the Cyclones were threatening to reduce their deficit by driving deep into Oklahoma territory on their next drive.
But linebacker Tom Wort tipped a pass by Barnett and Travis Lewis grabbed it from the air before racing up the field and to the end zone. An illegal block in the back during the return kept Lewis from scoring, but the Sooners still got into position for a 28-yard field goal by Hunnicutt with 25 seconds left.
They gained another scoring chance when Iowa State's Jevohn Miller fumbled the ball during the ensuing kickoff.
There was enough time for Oklahoma to reach the 19 before Hunnicutt drove a 37-yard try through the uprights, giving the Sooners a 23-6 lead.
"You can't turn the ball over like we did and stall so many long drives," said Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads. "At some point you have to find success and get the ball in the end zone, and give your whole football team an energy that gives you a chance to win the football game."
In a sense, Iowa State was fortunate its turnovers didn't result in a wider halftime score. The Sooners had a 1st-and-goal at the 10 after Barnett's interception, and they weren't far from the end zone after the fumble.
But considering the way Oklahoma's defense played in the second half, the size of the deficit almost didn't matter. The Sooners forced Iowa State to punt on four consecutive possessions coming out of halftime, and didn't allow the Cyclones to advance past the Oklahoma 45 until late in the fourth quarter.
Hunnicutt kicked his fourth field goal with just under seven minutes left in the game. He hit a 20-yarder in the first before Iowa State drove for a touchdown, a 10-yard pass from Barnett to Albert Gary.
Jones completed 22-of-43 passes for 256 yards, with two interceptions...Oklahoma recorded 253 rushing yards, led by Franks' 88...Oklahoma leads the series with Iowa State, 69-5-2, including a 36-3-1 mark in Norman...The Sooners have lost back-to-back regular-season games only once under Bob Stoops, in the fourth and fifth games of 1999, his first season.
11/26 18:49:41 ET