OU football: Four matchups between Sooners vs. Cyclones that could decide Big 12 champion
ARLINGTON, Texas — Here are four of the key matchups that figure to go a long way toward deciding the Big 12 Championship Game between Oklahoma and Iowa State (11 a.m., Saturday ABC):
OU linebacker Brian Asamoah vs. Iowa State running back Breece Hall: Asamoah has quietly put together a big year for the Sooners, with a team-high 53 tackles plus four quarterback hurries, three pass breakups, five tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. He figures to be a big key in slowing down Hall. This is strength vs. strength, with Hall leading FBS in rushing with 1,357 yards and the Sooners allowing just 88.1 rushing yards per game, good for fourth in FBS. Hall had 139 yards and two touchdowns in the Cyclones’ 37-30 win over OU on Oct. 3, the only running back to run for more than 73 yards against the Sooners this season (Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger rushed for 112 yards). EDGE: Cyclones
OU safety Pat Fields vs. Iowa State tight end Charlie Kolar: The Sooners’ secondary had a rough night in Ames in the first meeting. Kolar’s numbers weren’t jump-off-the-page impressive — four catches for 66 yards — but his impact was much bigger than those already strong numbers suggest. OU’s DBs were flagged six times for 63 yards, plus another penalty that offset a Cyclones infraction. Three of OU’s six pass interference or defensive holding penalties (including the negated one) were drawn by Kolar. All happened in or near the end zone. “There really isn’t an alternative,” Fields said after the game. “You’re guarding guys who are 6-6, 6-5. If we’re not physical. It’s probably going to be a catch.” Fields, who was called for holding Kolar in the first meeting, certainly won’t be alone on the big tight end from Norman North, but he’ll still need to play a big role. EDGE: Cyclones
OU defensive end Ronnie Perkins vs. Iowa State left tackle Sean Foster: Since Perkins’ return, he’s been the most impactful player on the Sooners’ defense, with 18 tackles — eight for losses with four sacks. He’s already had six quarterback hurries also. Perkins wasn’t available for the first meeting, though he traveled for the game and watched from the sidelines. Foster, one of the most experienced players on the Cyclones’ roster, has been a big part in protecting Brock Purdy and helping Breece Hall put up big numbers this season. EDGE: Sooners
OU running back Rhamondre Stevenson vs. Iowa State linebacker Mike Rose: Like Perkins, Stevenson wasn’t available for the first meeting, serving the fifth of a six-game suspension. While Stevenson was expected to be a big returning piece, his impact has been even greater than could’ve been imagined. He’s rushed for 382 yards and six touchdowns, averaging nearly six yards per carry. His role in the passing game has continued to grow also, with 14 catches for 175 yards after having just 10 catches for 87 yards in 13 games a season ago. Rose is Iowa State’s leading tackler with 76, 10 of those for loss. He also has four interceptions and four quarterback hurries. Rose ranks third nationally in run defense grade according to Pro Football Focus. EDGE: Sooners
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