Oklahoma, Iowa State looking to rebound from losses
Oklahoma and Iowa State came into the season as the favorites to meet again in the Big 12 Championship Game.
Saturday’s matchup between the teams in Norman, Okla., isn’t an elimination game on both sides — the Sooners still could reach the title game with a loss — but with two games left, both teams need a late push if they are to return to the conference championship game.
Oklahoma is coming off a 27-14 loss at Baylor, its first loss of the season, putting the Sooners’ streak of six consecutive Big 12 titles in jeopardy and putting them in the position of having to win out — and likely get help elsewhere — in order to make the College Football Playoff.
The Sooners (9-1, 6-1 Big 12) fell to No. 13 in the College Football Playoff rankings after suffering their first November loss since 2014.
“We don’t get this feeling very often here, but anytime you don’t win a game and don’t put your best foot forward, you just can’t wait for the next one to get here,” Sooners coach Lincoln Riley said Tuesday. “That’s how we’d describe our team right now. We wish we were playing today, to be completely honest.”
Against Baylor, Riley briefly pulled quarterback Caleb Williams after WIlliams was ineffective for long stretches and had his hand stepped on during a tackle. But Riley said Williams’ hand was fine and that he would start against Iowa State.
The Cyclones (6-4, 4-3) come in off a 41-38 loss at Texas Tech, their second loss in three games.
“It’s easy to get caught up emotionally with the disappointment of not getting a result,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said. “And yet I’ve sat here and preached this for the last five years. You’ll get as (good as) your work deserves.”
The Cyclones have given the Sooners fits in recent years, beating them in the regular-season last season 37-30 before falling 27-21 in the Big 12 Championship Game.
Iowa State won 38-31 in Norman in 2017 before being a last-minute, two-point conversion away from pulling off another victory, falling 42-41 there in 2019.
Charlie Kolar had a pair of strong games against the Sooners last season, with 10 catches for 158 yards and a touchdown, including six catches for 92 yards and a score in the Big 12 Championship Game.
Saturday’s game will be Kolar’s last for the Cyclones in his hometown.
“We shouldn’t need that type of motivation to go play hard,” Kolar said. “If you’re implying that you can play harder against a team that (is in your hometown), there’s something wrong.
“Obviously there’s a little more emotion, but in terms of the way you prepare and play, it should be the same.”
Riley said Kolar’s route-running separates him from other tight ends in college football.
“You just watch him run and you don’t appreciate how big he is,” Riley said. “And you get on the field with him and, you know, a big human that in a lot of ways kind of runs and gets in and out of cuts like a wideout.
“I would imagine with all that’s going on in the NFL right now in terms of how people are using those guys that he’s gonna have a bright future.”
–Field Level Media