Iowa State, which will square off against Oklahoma at 11 a.m. on Saturday, has won three consecutive games since quarterback Jared Barnett was made the starter. ISU rolled past Texas Tech 41-7 in Barnett's first start, edged Kansas 13-10 the following week and upset Oklahoma State in double overtime last week.
“They have a mentality that they never quit,” said OU offensive tackle Lane Johnson. “They faced some adversity against Oklahoma State and still found a way to win the game. They're not going to fear us. They'll play hard.”
ON ANY GIVEN SATURDAY
Last week's whacky results around the country were a reminder that two, three- and four-touchdown underdogs occasionally post upsets.
“You should never underestimate your opponent,” said OU defensive end Frank Alexander. “It's like the movie, ‘Any Given Sunday.' For us it's ‘Any given Saturday' someone can beat you. If you get too lax, or get too laid back, that's when things can go wrong. We have to strive to get better and play hard every game.”
WILLIAMS TO RECEIVE MORE CARRIES
Freshman running back Brandon Williams ran for 26 yards on only three carries against Baylor.
“We talked as a staff that it was good to see him come in and play well,” said coach Bob Stoops. “He's been more and more consistent in practice in his assignments. Hopefully he can be a spark these next couple of games.”
NELSON GAINING MATURITY
Sophomore linebacker Corey Nelson has been moved around but he's started 10 games. In last week's loss at Baylor, Nelson compiled a career high nine tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss.
“He played well,” said defensive coordinator Brent Venables. “He missed a tackle on a downhill zone (play) on a touchdown (run). But other than that he played real well, he really did. He graded out well.”
For the season Nelson is third on the team in tackles for loss (eight) and is tied with Ronnell Lewis for second most sacks (5.5).
NO MARGIN FOR ERROR
In college, one loss sometimes can be one too many.
“There are a lot of good teams where one loss ruined their season,” said quarterback Landry Jones. “That's the one hard thing about college football is that there is so much competition... You have to play good every week, come ready to play. If you want to go to the big game you have to play (almost) perfect.”
EMPATHY FOR THE COLTS
A decade ago co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell was an assistant coach for four years with the Indianapolis Colts. With Peyton Manning sidelined by a neck injury, the Colts are 0-10. Norvell chatted with Colts vice chairman Bill Polian, who attended the OU-Texas A&M game.
“He says he's amazed (it's been this bad),” Norvell said. “They've had fabulous practices. I would be surprised if they don't win. That would be pretty hard to do. They still have a lot of good players on that team that have won a lot of games.”
WINCHESTER IS BEING DOUBLE TEAMED
Deep snapper James Winchester developed the reputation last season of forcing and recovering and making tackles. This year he's been virtually invisible. There's a good explanation. Opponents are often double-teaming Winchester (two tackles).
“Sometimes they put two big guys right in the middle and shove him all over the place,” said punter Tress Way. “We sometimes give him a hard time in meetings. He doesn't like it. He's always come back with (grass) marks all over his jersey.”
With Ronnell Lewis sidelined two to three weeks by a sprained knee Baylor chose to double team Alexander much of the second half, a strategy the leading candidate for Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year will see often the final two games... The Sooners entered the Baylor game having dominated the third quarter, outscoring opponents 118-10 but Baylor tied OU 14-14 in the third quarter... When Iowa State scores 24 or more points under coach Paul Rhoads, the Cyclones are 15-1, but they're 3-16 when held to under 24 points... OU has won the last 12 meetings. Iowa State's last win the series was in 1990, a 33-31 win in Norman.