NORMAN — Being real, there wasn't too much that was interesting about Oklahoma's 26-6 victory Saturday against Iowa State.
But therein, in the uneventful, lies an important truth: Boring is good, if you're the Sooners' defense. And that's especially true considering its performance a week earlier.
Iowa State's offense is not Baylor's offense. Nor is it Oklahoma State's offense.
But the Cyclones served as a proper stepping stone, from one pass-crazy scheme to the next.
“It was pleasing to play soundly and to limit them the way we were able to,” OU coach Bob Stoops said.
The Sooners (9-2, 6-2 Big 12) on Saturday set up a Bedlam game to decide the Big 12 title, holding the Cyclones (6-5, 3-5) to the six points and 245 total yards. They turned the ball over four times, all of which came in the first half.
ISU's only points came in the first quarter – set up when a botched punt snap gave the Cyclones the ball at the OU 10-yard line.
Last week, in the stunning loss at Waco, the Sooners allowed a school-record 616 yards. OU gave up four plays of 50 or more yards, including touchdowns of 69 and 87 yards.
It was bad; that was well-traveled ground this past week.
Saturday, though, Iowa State had no plays longer than 30 yards. And that was a drag route to the tight end, Kurt Hammerschmidt, in the second half. Hardly the type of burners who repeatedly blew past the OU secondary a week ago.
The Cyclones actually outgained OSU in their upset win last week, churning out 568 yards in the 37-31 victory in Ames. There was no such replication at blustery, cold Owen Field – and the OU defense was a factor in that.
“It's good to see them smile,” Sooners defensive coordinator Brent Venables said of his players. “It's been a tough, emotional week after the loss last week.”
OU was better, technically. But Venables also spliced in some personnel tweaks, given the recent struggles and the temporary loss of wrecking ball Ronnell Lewis (knee) at defensive end.
Linebacker Corey Nelson slid over to defensive end, providing more of a playmaker in the rotation than run-stoppers David King and R.J. Washington.
“He put his hand in the dirt. It was really easy for him,” Venables said of Nelson, who had eight tackles and a fumble recovery.
Additionally, Aaron Colvin moved over to free safety and senior Sam Proctor played strong safety. The shift came after Javon Harris' pronounced problems in coverage at Baylor.
Colvin recovered a fumble on the second play of the game, setting up a field goal, and Venables was complimentary of Proctor's play.
Stoops was noncommittal about what grouping will take the field at Oklahoma State.
It took two questions to Venables before the Cowboys (10-1, 7-1) became the primary topic.
Saturday's performance was positive, without question, but what does it mean in the scope of Bedlam?
OU has feasted on slower, physical teams such as Iowa State. But what about OSU?
“They have only stopped themselves, if they haven't had success,” Venables said, calling quarterback Brandon Weeden “a fabulous player, as good as there is in the country.”
“They're just a great, complete unit. … We have not had the kind of success against the better passing teams that we'd like. There's not a better time than now, all year, to have our best performance of the year.”
Colvin said he's seen Oklahoma State play several games this season. He said he respects its offense, but there's a big difference in respect and awe. He smiled when asked if Bedlam could be another Texas Tech or Baylor.
“Oh, we've heard that,” he said. “Everyone's been in our ears about it. All we can do is play our game.
“I love when people try to challenge me, and I know the other defensive backs are the same way. I know we'll get ready this week and be ready to perform.”