Dropped passes by open receivers prevented Iowa State from gathering any early momentum Saturday, when Oklahoma beat the Cyclones 35-20.
With under five minutes left in the first half, Iowa State's Jarvis West dropped a ball inside the Sooners' 10-yard line that could've put Iowa State in good position to score a tying touchdown.
If Baylor quarterback Nick Florence and his receivers find similar holes in the OU defense next weekend in Norman, the Sooners might just find themselves in a familiar sort of game against a familiar opponent.
A little less than a year ago, Baylor quarterback and eventual Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III torched the Sooner secondary for 479 yards and four touchdowns, including the game winner with 8 seconds remaining in Baylor's 45-38 upset victory in Waco, Texas.
Today, Griffin is safely in the NFL. But Terrance Williams, who caught the last-second, 34-yard touchdown that killed OU's 2011 national-title hopes, is still a Bear. In eight games this season, Williams has 71 receptions, 1,340 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Tevin Reese, too, is back for Baylor; last year, Reese caught four passes for 84 yards and a score against the Sooners.
Griffin's replacement hasn't been bad, though — Florence has tossed 25 touchdown passes and averages 377.4 passing yards this season.
Mike Stoops' return as Oklahoma's defensive coordinator has yielded a secondary that, through eight games, has shown clear improvement from the mid-to-late 2011 collapse that not only cost Oklahoma its shot at both conference and national titles, but also pride.
Many eyes Saturday will be fixated on safety Javon Harris, who shouldered a majority of blame for the Baylor meltdown last season.
Harris played free safety then, but Mike Stoops moved him in the offseason to strong safety, a position better suited for the hard-hitting senior.
The switch appears to have paid off; Harris leads the Sooners with four interceptions, and is the team's second-leading tackler.
Saturday, Iowa State scored both of its touchdowns in the second half on the ground, but the Cyclones' passing game improved after halftime, too; quarterback Steele Jantz completed 14 of his 24 second-half pass attempts.
On what would be its last offensive drive Saturday, Iowa State moved the ball into OU territory, appearing on its way to a one-possession game before Tony Jefferson's interception with about three minutes left sealed the OU win.
“Overall, I think we played pretty well,” Harris said of Saturday's win in Ames. “We kept them out of the end zone a lot. Everything's not gonna be perfect.”
Baylor is 4-4, winning its first Big 12 game Saturday against hapless Kansas, but the Bears' woes this season haven't been offensive.
The Baylor defense played so poorly in its Sept. 29 loss at West Virginia, that Williams' 314 yards receiving, Florence's 5 touchdown passes — and the Bear offense's 63 points — weren't enough to escape Morgantown victorious.
Baylor's defense has surrendered an average of 39.1 points and 527.2 yards through its eight games.
But it isn't like Griffin's defensive counterparts were a ton better last season. They certainly weren't on Nov. 19, 2011, when an Oklahoma offense without its starting running back, Dominique Whaley, and best receiver, Ryan Broyles, racked up 29 first downs and 605 total yards in the losing effort.
OU even rallied from a two-touchdown deficit in the fourth quarter and tied the game before Griffin's last-minute heroics.
Mike Stoops' 2012 defensive backfield held one prolific passing offense that shredded OU last year — Texas Tech — at bay Oct. 6 in Lubbock.
Similar effectiveness will be required next Saturday, or another shoot-out with Baylor might ensue.
And, as was proved in last year's offensive free-for-all, shoot-outs usually come down to little more than which team possesses the ball last.