AMES - Receiving plenty of help from Oklahoma early, the Iowa State offense couldn't help itself.
And against the Sooners' potent attack, field goals simply wouldn't be enough.
Coming away with just six points on two first half takeaways, Iowa State failed to provide itself enough margin for error as 14th-ranked Oklahoma (6-2, 4-1) pulled away for a 35-20 Big 12 victory at Jack Trice Stadium Saturday.
T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE
Oklahoma wide receiver Sterling Shepard (3) puts the Sooners on the scoreboard first by hauling in a 20-yard touchdown pass in front of Iowa State defender Deon Broomfield (26) during the second quarter of Saturday’s Big 12 Conference game in Ames.
Landry Jones led the Sooners throwing for 405 yards and a season-high four touchdowns, but it was a pair of missed opportunities that left Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads lamenting on what could have been.
"We didn't come away with two big field goals - we came away with field goals," Rhoads clarified when asked about the team's first pair of scoring drives.
"We didn't come away with two big touchdowns."
Following a 47-yard interception return from Durrell Givens, the Cyclones (5-4, 2-4) took over at the Sooners' 15, but a potential touchdown pass was dropped by Jarvis West leaving Iowa State to settle for three. Following the Cyclones' fourth drop of the afternoon, Edwin Arceo connected on a 27-yard field goal to pull Iowa State within 7-3 late in the second quarter.
Just two plays later, Givens picked off Landry Jones again - this time off a tip from Jeremiah George - but the Cyclones couldn't fully cash in. Arceo buried a career-long 51-yard field goal to close the gap to 7-6 with 1:04 left in the half, more than enough time for the Sooners' high-powered assault.
"We left the field knowing that we could have done better than we did," said Cyclone receiver Quenton Bundrage. "We could have at least put some more points on the board."
The Sooners did. Covering 75 yards on just four plays, Jones delivered a 21-yard strike to Kenny Stills as the Sooners grabbed a 14-6 lead heading into the locker room.
"(We) lost seven valuable points at the end of the first half," said Rhoads, whose Cyclones also benefited from three Sooner penalties that led to as many Iowa State first downs in the opening 30 minutes.
"The seven points is what you can't give back."
Jones was in rhythm to open the second half directing a 14-play, 75-yard drive that culminated with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Justin Brown, which deflected off the hands of Jeremy Reeves. Iowa State responded three minutes later with a 19-yard end-around to West to narrow the deficit to 21-13, but Jones and company took over from there.
Slicing up the Cyclone secondary through the air, the Sooners also got the ground game in gear as Brennan Clay padded the lead with an 18-yard dash to widen the gap to 28-13. Clay finished with 159 yards on 24 carries as Oklahoma racked up 593 yards of total offense. Brown hauled in seven receptions for 107 yards, while Stills had six catches for 92 yards.
Consecutive Cyclone three-and-outs gave the ball back to Jones who hooked up with Stills again for a 31-yard scoring strike early in the fourth. Shontrelle Johnson capped the scoring with a 2-yard plunge with 6:32 left. After a failed onside kick attempt, Iowa State retained possession once more but Tony Jefferson picked off Steele Jantz to seal it.
Jantz completed 20 of 40 passes for 191 yards and one interception and was sacked three times.
"I think (Steele) played well. He gave us an opportunity to be in it," said Rhoads. "It probably wasn't his best decision-making game, but he continues to learn."
Though limiting the miscues that lost him the starting job earlier in the year, Jantz and the Clones were unable to convert enough third downs finishing 5 of 14 on the day. On the other side, Iowa State could only momentarily slow the Sooners, who converted 9 of 14.
"Our third down defense percentage was terrible. We can't give up over 70 percent on third down," said linebacker A.J. Klein. "To win games we need to keep that below 50."
The conversions allowed the Sooners to run 85 plays to the Cyclones' 64, which proved to wear down Iowa State late.
"We couldn't keep them off the field and we couldn't stay on it," said Rhoads, whose squad was dominated in time of possession 36:11 to 23:49.
Playing without senior linebacker and two-year co-captain Jake Knott, George rose up in the linebacking corps with a career-high 17 tackles, while also making the deflection that led to Givens' second interception.
"(Jeremiah) really stepped up to the plate and played a great game. He did everything we need him to do," said Klein.
While Knott's absence on the field was felt, the Cyclones won't use it as a crutch.
"Jake's leadership was still there on the sideline. As a team we have to kind of put that in the books and move on with what we have. Even though Jake is missed, it's not going to define who we are on defense," said Klein.
Still in search of a bowl-clinching sixth win, the Cyclones battle Texas on the road Saturday at 11 a.m.
Attendance was 56,585 - the third largest crowd ever at Jack Trice Stadium ... The Sooners have won 14 straight games over the Cyclones and are 70-5-2 against ISU all-time ... Iowa State was whistled for season lows in penalties (two) and yards (10) ... ISU is 13-3 under Rhoads when winning the turnover battle (+1 Saturday). Iowa State's last loss when having a positive margin was at Oklahoma in 2010 ... For the fourth straight game, Iowa State converted a fourth down attempt. The Cyclones are 5-for-9 on fourth down this season ... A.J. Klein had six tackles to raise his career total to 317, surpassing Lester Williams (316, 1982-85) for 13th all-time ... George set a new career high with 17 tackles ... Punter Kirby Van Der Kamp pinned the Sooners inside their own 20 three times.