After being held to only three points against Iowa, the Iowa State Cyclones are slated to receive a visit on Saturday from the No. 5-ranked Oklahoma State Sooners—a team that has put up a combined 112 points in only two games.
To make matters worse, Iowa State quarterback Kyle Kempt is day-to-day with an ankle injury, and there’s a realistic possibility he won’t be able to play on Saturday. On the other side of the ball, the Sooners are looking to plow over another unranked team to pad their 2018 playoff resume.
Noland could be the next man up
The Cyclones could have a steeper hill to climb than they initially expected if Kempt isn’t available for Saturday’s game. No one in Oklahoma has forgotten his magical 343-yard and three touchdown game to hand the Sooners their only loss a year ago.
He proved he wasn’t afraid of the moment by going on the road against one of the best teams in the country and outgunning Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield to pull off a massive upset. Any possibility of a repeat could rest on the shoulders of sophomore backup quarterback Zeb Noland.
There obviously isn’t much college film on him, aside from a few brief appearances. He came in late when Kempt went down against the Hawkeyes and finished for 43 yards and a 17.8 QBR. He’ll need a miracle turnaround to upstage the Sooners if his name is called upon.
The Cyclones were held to just three points last week in their first loss of the season to Iowa.
Sooners seeking retribution for the 2017 upset
Don’t count on the Sooners overlooking the Cyclones this year. If anything, this was one of the few games on their schedule circled in red.
Mayfield had an outstanding game in the first match-up, throwing for 306 yards and two touchdowns. The struggles for the Sooners were more on the defensive side of the ball as it had been all season. They weren’t able to generate consistent pressure up front and Kempt proceeded to pick them apart.
The brunt of their problems came in defending the run-pass option, where Kempt would keep the ball and hit quick passes that usually went for big yards. That Sooner defense will have to be better if they hope to avoid another nightmare upset.
They were far from perfect in last week’s 49-21 win over the UCLA Bruins, who had 129 yards rushing.
- Cyclones are 14-34-3 ATS in last 51 games after earning less than 100 yards rushing in the previous game
- Sooners are 5-1 ATS in last 6 games within their conference
- Sooners are 6-2 ATS in last 8 games after earning more than 280 passing yards in the previous game
- Sooners are 6-2 ATS in last 8 games after putting up more than 40 points in the previous game
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Iowa State isn’t catching lightning in a bottle for a second year straight without Kempt on the field. Even if he does manage to shake off the injury, he clearly isn’t going to be 100 percent heading into the game. The Sooners will play even more aggressive on defense and make life difficult for him in the pocket. While their secondary still has some question marks, they aren’t going to be exploited by an Iowa State offense two years in a row.
Noland potentially being the starter would be an even bigger problem for the Cyclones, considering his inexperience playing against ranked opposition. It’ll be a long day for Iowa State no matter who stands behind center.
Prediction: Oklahoma Sooners (-17.5)
Full-Game Total Pick
The Sooners will serve up vengeance on Saturday and severely limit Iowa State’s offense in the process. However, they won’t blow up the scoreboard enough to cover the over in this week’s line total. It’s smarter to take the under, which has been successful in four of the Cyclones’ last four games.