What looked like a potential rout turned into quite the game in Arlington, as the Oklahoma Sooners claimed their sixth straight Big 12 Championship by beating the Iowa State Cyclones 27-21. The Sooners were up 24-7 leading into halftime, and looked nearly unstoppable. A valiant comeback effort by the Cyclones in the second half fell just short, though, as a Brock Purdy interception on the game’s last drive sealed the win for Oklahoma. Below are some thoughts following the Sooners’ win in AT&T Stadium.
Even In A Down Year, Oklahoma Keeps Winning
This is certainly not the best team that’s won a Big 12 Championship in the Lincoln Riley era, but that didn’t stop the Sooners from doing exactly what they needed to do after starting off 0-2 in conference play. This looked to be the most open this conference has been for a few weeks, but starting with their win against Texas, the Sooners began looking better on both sides of the ball. That improvement continued into today, and it’s one of the reasons Oklahoma was able to take home another trophy.
Turnovers Doomed Iowa State
Looking over the statistics, the Cyclones and Sooners had almost identical. Iowa State actually had 43 more yards than Oklahoma, and made a ton of big plays. It’s very difficult to win any football game, let alone a championship, when you’re minus-three in turnovers, though. Granted, none of Brock Purdy’s interceptions led directly to points by Oklahoma, but if any of those possessions would have ended instead in a touchdown, we could have had a different result.
This Was Still A Great Year For The Cyclones
No matter what the result was today, everything Iowa State had done leading up to kickoff made this a historic season for them, and that’s not changing. It was only six years ago that the Cyclones went winless in Big 12 play, the type of season that wasn’t exactly an exception in Ames. For Matt Campbell to have gotten this team within a scoring drive of winning the Big 12 is an amazing accomplishment. It’s arguably the best turnaround recent memory, and both players and staff deserve credit for that.
The Sooners’ Defense Was The Difference
Lincoln Riley did his best Bill Snyder impression late in the game, consciously trying to run the clock and depend on his defense to get one last stop down the stretch. This might have been the first time we’ve seen that since Riley’s been in charge for the Sooners. The strategy paid off – Oklahoma got pressure on Brock Purdy all night, and that was the reason they were able to get that last pick of the game. Purdy hardly ever looked comfortable in the pocket, and you can credit that to a group of Oklahoma defensive linemen who knew they needed to have a big game in order to pull out the win.
Big 12 Squads Should Build Themselves To Beat Oklahoma
At this point, the next big innovation in the Big 12 will be figuring out how to beat the Sooners twice. It’s hard to see any significant dropoff from the Sooners in the near future, and the road to the Big 12 Championship runs through Norman until otherwise notified. Perhaps other teams in the conference should take a page out of some teams in the NBA, and try to craft a squad that is specifically designed to beat Lincoln Riley and the Sooners. Of course, that’s a lot easier said than done.