Yes and no. Oklahoma rebounded the following week against Texas and didn’t look back. Six-game winning streak, the Sooners are more like the big favorites of the 12 we’ve known over the years under coach Lincoln Riley. The biggest story has been the improvement in defense under Alex Grinch. This is a top 10 defense since November and the defensive front is playing at full speed. To imagine Oklahoma with self-defense is a terrifying thing and this team has been scary lately.
At the same time, Iowa State No.6 is in a position to win its first conference championship since 1912. The Cyclones toppled Oklahoma earlier in the year when the Sooners were more vulnerable and beat Texas in Austin over Thanksgiving weekend, putting them 2-1 against the other top Big 12 teams. Matt Campbell’s side had a window into 2020 to claim the title and they took advantage of it.
There is nothing outdated in this rematch. Oklahoma and Iowa State play some great football right now, and the Cyclones in particular are reaching their peak at the right time. That said, it’s the Sooners with a double-digit three-quarter lead.
Here’s how to watch Saturday’s game and the intrigues to follow in the second half.
Oklahoma: This is the Sooners’ fourth straight Big 12 title game, but for the first time since the game returned in 2017, it may have been their defense leading the way. The tandem of Isaiah Thomas and Ronnie Perkins made the D-line one of the best in the Big 12. They will, along with the linebacker corps, play a decisive role in slowing down running back Breece Hall, who has a All-American season and will likely garner Heisman votes as well. Hall has covered at least 91 yards and one touchdown in every game, so reducing his impact is a key point for Oklahoma.
State of Iowa: Despite all the talk about Hall – and it’s more than deserving of it – quarterback Brock Purdy finally has the season many thought he would have. In his last three games, Purdy has completed 76% of his passes for 858 yards, seven touchdowns and zero picks, while also being an active part of the running game. He was extremely precise in the last regular season game against West Virginia, going 20 for 23. There’s so much balance in the Iowa State passing game with seven games with at least 15. receptions, including three wide receivers, three tight ends and Hall. The passing game hasn’t always been Iowa State’s choice, but it has definitely been much more effective in the second half of the season.
Event: Big 12 Championship Game
Date: Saturday December 19 | Time: Noon AND
Location: Stade AT&T – Arlington, Texas
TV: ABC | Direct: fuboTV (Try for free)
Oklahoma vs Iowa State prediction, pick
The only hiccup in Oklahoma’s winning streak was a 27-14 win over Baylor. The Bears defense confused the Sooners, showing that, yes, it’s still possible to make this group look human. Iowa State has excellent defensemen at all three levels and got the best of Oklahoma the first time around. Win or lose here, Iowa State played both sides of the ball well enough that Oklahoma kept guessing. Pick: Iowa State +5.5