Oklahoma travels to Ames, Iowa, on Saturday to take on Iowa State at 11 a.m. CT at Jack Trice Stadium. Cyclones quarterback Steele Jantz had his best game of the season in ISU’s 35-21 win over Baylor on Oct. 27. SoonerNation takes a look at the Cyclones' win over the Bears and came away with three things the Sooners will need to be aware of this weekend.
1. Will the good Jantz or bad Jantz show up?
The ISU quarterback enters the game with loads of confidence, coming off a 381-yard, five-touchdown performance against Baylor, his best game of the season. When he’s playing like he did against the Bears, he presents problems.
His versatility allows the Cyclones to run a four-wide spread attack on one play then run the option on the next, as they did during one two-play sequence against BU to pick up an easy first down. Jantz, who also rushed for 54 yards against the Bears, brings a run-pass threat to the table. Even if the Sooners get good pressure on him in the pocket, they still have to corral him and bring him to the ground, which is easier said than done.
All that said, Jantz is still susceptible to making mistakes. Baylor dropped several opportunities for interceptions and had one pick. Jantz has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns in two of the six games he has played this season. So don’t be surprised if OU comes up with a interception (or two) on Saturday.
2. Accounting for A.J. Klein
The Cyclones defense was dealt a major blow this week when leading tackler Jake Knott was likely lost for the season after having shoulder surgery on Monday. Nonetheless, ISU still has a standout linebacker in Klein.
A solid overall linebacker, Klein is solid against the run and pass. Two of his top tackle games this season came against Texas Tech (11) and Baylor (13), a sign he’s just as comfortable defending the pass as he is against the run. He also had a 87-yard interception return for touchdown against the Red Raiders.
Klein is the main ISU defender the Sooners will need to be concerned with. OU will have to find and block him on running plays if they hope to see Damien Williams bust open the game with a big run and Landry Jones will need to be aware of Klein as he looks to find Jalen Saunders in the middle of the field.
3. Adapting to the Cyclones' game plan
Offensive coordinator Josh Heupel and defensive coordinator Mike Stoops will need to make quality in-game adjustments against ISU because the Cyclones could come into the game with several wrinkles.
The Cyclones will be facing a talent disadvantage, so expect them to try several different things with the hope of game-planning their way to success.
Offensively, the Sooners should be able to create mismatches with their four-receiver set and should feel confident they will be able to protect Jones well enough to see him take advantage of those mismatches.
The main key will be taking care of the football. In ISU’s two best wins, against TCU and Baylor, the Cyclones forced nine combined turnovers.
Defensively, OU will need to capitalize on any Jantz mistakes, limit the damage he does with his feet and tackle well when the ball finds the hands of slippery running back Shontrelle Johnson. If the Sooners do all three, the have to like their chances in Ames.