Here are some quick observations from OU’s 48-10 win against Iowa State on Senior Day in Norman.
1. Game changers: Jalen Saunders singlehandedly lifted the spirits of Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium with his 91-yard punt return touchdown before halftime. OU struggled in the first half to get ISU off the field on third down, but came up with a key three-and-out with less than 2 minutes before halftime to set up Saunders’ score, which tied the game 10-10. And Damien Williams built off the explosive play with a 69-yard touchdown run on the Sooners’ second play of the second half. Brennan Clay finished off the Cyclones with a 63-yard score and the big plays were back at least for a day.
2. Hello, Trevor Knight. Hello, Kendal Thompson: Blake Bell went out hurt early into the second quarter after taking a hit on a scramble, but Trevor Knight came on to play well. He finished with 123 yards rushing, including a 56-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. OU’s second-half performance allowed Kendal Thompson to get on the field and the Southmoore product threw his first career touchdown to Aaron Ripkowski in the fourth quarter.
3. Running downhill: The running game took precedent in the second half. The OU offensive line provided huge holes and the trio of Williams, Clay and Knight took full advantage. OU finished with a Stoops-era high of 405 yards. Williams (two TDs) and Knight each went over 100 yards rushing and Clay’s 63-yarder was the end of Iowa State and the beginning of Bob Stoops tying Barry Switzer for all-time wins at OU with 157.
4. Slow start: OU averaged less than 4 yards per play in the first half, outdone by a Cyclones offense that ranks among the Big 12’s worst. Even driving against the wind in the first quarter, ISU outgained the Sooners 123-25 in total yardage. If not for Saunders’ massive return, OU would have faced a 10-3 deficit at halftime.
5. Defensive swagger back: The second half was night and day for the Sooners’ defense. The second-quarter stop before Saunders’ punt return TD was a big boost for the OU defense, which carried that success over into the second half. The Sooners allowed just five first downs after halftime, many with the game in hand, and racked up six sacks. OU picked off two passes and the return of defensive end Charles Tapper after a first-half suspension didn’t hurt either.