The Oklahoma Sooners return to the field of play on Saturday evening having successfully vanquished the always intimidating foe known as the off week.
The Sooners were able to stay out of trouble, sustained no injuries in practice and were able to heal a couple of players as well during their time off. All in all, it was an extremely productive week for Oklahoma as the team looks ahead to the second half of the season.
First up for the Sooners here in the second half of the year is the Iowa State Cyclones, a team that has had quite a two-week stretch of emotional highs and lows. Two weeks ago, the Cyclones scored 52 points in knocking off the Texas Tech Red Raiders at home, 52-38.
However, the happiness that came from that big win quickly disappeared when the Utah Utes rolled through Ames last week, blitzing the Cyclones 68-27. As head coach Paul Rhoads said, ISU went to a shootout and forgot to take a gun with them.
It will be interesting to see how the Cyclones respond after that two-week stretch as well as how they will approach the beginning of a brutal stretch in their season. Iowa State travels to Norman, then to Austin, then, following a home date with Kansas, plays host to the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Needless to say, this stretch is going to be quite difficult for the Cyclones to deal with.
The Cyclones are led offensively by quarterback Austen Arnaud. Arnaud has had to battle for his starting position each of the past two seasons, despite being the incumbent starter. Each time, the coaching staff deemed him the man for the job.
Arnaud is a decent passer and can also run a bit with the ball. The Sooners have struggled in the past with dual-threat quarterbacks, so it will be key to rope him in and make sure he stays contained.
Alexander Robinson has been very solid for the Cyclones at the running back position, averaging five yards per carry on the season. However, he is questionable for Saturday with a foot injury that hampered him in the game against Utah. If he is unable to go, look for Shontrelle Johnson, a freshman, to get the majority of the carries.
Tight end Collin Franklin leads ISU in receiving with 25 catches on the year. Five other players have 10 or more catches, including Robinson and Darius Darks.
Defensively, the Cyclones are led by a pair of sophomore linebackers, A.J. Klein and Jake Knott. Klein leads the team with 62 tackles on the year and Knott is right behind him with 58. Both have three interceptions on the year and are real ball hawks.
Iowa State doesn't have much of a pass rush, accumulating only six sacks on the year so far. Landry Jones will have plenty of time to pick apart a pass defense that is 66th in the country. Overall, the Cyclones rank 97th in total defense and 88th in scoring defense.
It's homecoming week in Norman and OU will be fired up to get back on the field. Iowa State has made significant progress under second-year head coach Paul Rhoads, but it will not be enough to get a victory in Norman.
The nation's longest home winning streak will get extended to 34 games on Saturday.