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Road win over Iowa State gets Sooners
Off to perfect start with OU-Texas looming
AMES, Iowa -- Just like every year, you blink, and we're a third of the way through the season. Maybe even a little farther along, actually, by the time you read this.
Assuming the boys from Army, one of only three FBS schools that legally pay their players a salary -- actually, we all pay them, come to think of it -- don't option us into oblivion during their visit, the Sooners will have opened the season as expected and required, at 4-0.
And this, despite having taken our first snaps of the season after 3:30 Central time four weeks in. And thanks so much to our conference television "partners" for that. Note to Joe C. -- next TV contract we get veto power over 11 a.m. kickoffs. That's non-negotiable. Thanks in advance.
This year, there's no marquee non-conference road win to excuse a bad conference loss with the Playoff Committee. This year, we may have to go undefeated to get where we want to be, which is in JerryWorld for the semifinal on December 29.
Yes, I love Miami as much as the next guy, but the college football gods have got to smile on us just once and let us play one of these games 200 miles from campus instead of 200 miles (or less) from the other team's. Just once.
Heck, the closest we've come was the Rose Bowl against Georgia and that game in Miami that never officially happened, and those were still half a continent away from Norman -- too far to make a difference.
But we're still only a few games in, and it's way too early to be worried about that. We have scoreboard back on the whole conference after beating Iowa State, scoreboard x 2, actually, except for the Cyclones, and we need to keep it that way.
Do that, and the rest will take care of itself.
Say what you will about Iowa State. You can say, truthfully, that nobody born after 1960 has been alive to see them beat Oklahoma in Ames. You can say, truthfully, that the Sooners' dominance of the Cyclones over their 83-game series, dating back to 1928 (75-6-2, good for a 92 percent win rate), is the most lopsided in major college football.
Yes, even worse than OU's dominance of OSU.
You can say that your intrepid reporter is one of what must be few living humans to have seen ISU beat the Sooners in person twice. Last time we were in Ames, I told an Iowa State fan I had seen them beat us, and I was called a liar.
You can say all of those things, but what you must also say is that today's ISU is not the ISU of old -- they are a tough out.
Even playing their backup QB every year.
This year's game was a weird mirror of last year's disaster, except for one thing. This year, the third quarter fumble deep in ISU territory that turned the game on its ear was overturned on replay review, and we were able to push the lead to 10 instead of giving them the ball with a chance to tie.
In fact, after we went up 14 in the second quarter, we managed to keep them from ever having the ball with a chance to tie for the rest of the game. But that didn’t make it any less annoying.
Compounding that was the weather, which approximated Bangkok in August. And I forgot my sunscreen, which was not particularly beneficial to my epidermal health.
If you're ever in Des Moines and need a place to watch a game, I highly recommend The Grumpy Goat and Wellman’s Pub. One of the few advantages of the early kickoffs on road games is the chance to sample multiple local options in the sports bar area, and I managed to hit both of these after ISU.
Many TVs were available -- even more than I have at home -- and much good food and drink was had. Wellman's was showing the Iowa game on the majority of the TVs and had the sound on. Apparently it's an Iowa bar, since there was a big sign that said "Hawks" on the wall, without a corresponding ISU sign.
Weird concept to me outside of Vegas -- I would never imagine an OU or OSU specific place in Oklahoma City. Cutting off a lot of customers that way.
Regardless of the warts on the defense from Ames, starting conference play with a road win is really all that mattered. Kyler Murray's stats through three games this season -- nearly identical to Baker Mayfield's through three games last season. Yeah, Murray hasn't played Ohio State, but still. He's good enough to be the Tee Martin to Mayfield's Peyton Manning, and can be that with some more help from the defense.
But for that to happen, we have to beat Texas.
Regardless of what you might have heard before the season, Texas is not Back. In fact, Texas has looked like a pile of mess most of the season, a nice win over a hapless USC notwithstanding.
They lost their opener to a Maryland team that just got blown out by Temple. Of course, what that means is that they will give us all we want in the Cotton Bowl, like they seemingly always do.
See you at the Fair.
(Editor's Note: This story appears in the Sooner Spectator's 2018 OU-Texas Preview issue, available on newsstands Sept. 28. To read more or subsribe, call 405-364-4515)