NORMAN — It took awhile, 27 years to be exact, but history finally repeated itself in favor of Iowa State’s Cyclones.
The 1990 Cyclone edition came to Norman as a decided underdog against a Sooner squad coming off a heartbreaking 14-13 loss to Texas at the Cotton Bowl.
That Oklahoma squad, in the second year of the Gary Gibbs’ era, had opened the season impressively at 5-0, including victories at UCLA (34-14), Pittsburgh (52-10) and at Oklahoma State (31-17).
In seeking its first triumph over OU since 1961 (21-15), the 1990 Cyclones delivered with a 33-31 stunner. The Sooners then lost 32-23 at Colorado en route to an 8-3 record. OU, in the first year of a two-year probation, couldn’t go bowling.
But Saturday’s 38-31 setback to Iowa State — just the sixth Cyclone win in the 82-year history of the series — was even more of a shocker.
For the 30.5-point favorite Sooners, it was the worst loss in their storied history. It also puts OU in the unenviable position of having to win out to earn playoff status.
Even if OU runs the table —seven regular-season wins and the Big 12 postseason crown — it could come up short of its consummate goal.
Oklahoma had earned the best bargaining chip on the playoff table with its 31-16 road victory against Ohio State. But that accomplishment was virtually negated with the worst loss of the season among the Big Boy crowd.
A Sooner defense which surrendered 463 passing yards to winless Baylor on Sept. 23 was victimized for 343 yards by Kyle Kempt.
Unless you were a member of the Kempt family circle or employed by the ISU Athletic Communication Department, you probably didn’t have a clue about Saturday’s winning quarterback.
Kempt is a 6-foot-5, 210-pound redshirt senior — also a former walk-on — who hadn’t thrown a pass this year. He had two completions for 15 yards in his Cyclone career.
Yet Kempt was a mind-boggling 18 of 24 for 343 yards against third-ranked Oklahoma.
In its first four games, ISU recorded nine passing touchdowns from junior quarterback Jacob Park, who didn’t make the trip to Norman because of what ISU officials said was personal health reasons.
Yet, in the final 17:07 of play Saturday, Kempt tossed three TD aerials.
Oklahoma’s beleaguered secondary was physically abused by the Cyclone receivers. Sooner defenders couldn’t get off blocks, missed tackles and took bad angles to receivers. Against Baylor and Iowa State, the OU secondary has looked bewildered. How else can one describe allowing 10 of 10 completions — on passes caught near or behind the line of scrimmage — accumulating 195 yards?
The most obvious misplay came when senior receiver Trever Ryan took a pass near the line of scrimmage and scampered 57 yards, virtually untouched, down the sideline to give Iowa State at 31-24 lead.
“For Iowa State to hit two screen passes for touchdowns is inexcusable,” said OU Defensive Coordinator Mike Stoops. “We should have defended them better. We should have been better than that. We didn’t play assignment-right football on two screens. Our execution as a whole isn’t good enough, and we just aren’t making enough plays. The two personal fouls are just inexcusable.”
Let’s not employ the much-applied argument about the Big 12 spread-the-field offenses to defend OU’s ineptness. This was a third stringer tossing completions of 28, 35, 46, 54 and 57 yards.
Even with the defensive struggles, OU had every chance to win.
• Up 24-16, OU lost a fumble at the Cyclone 5 after driving from its 25 in eight plays. ISU followed with its longest drive of the year, 94 yards in seven plays, to tie the game.
• Up 14-3 in the second quarter, OU lost its third touchdown in as many possessions when Mark Andrews dropped a contested pass in the end zone. OU got a chip-shot field goal from Austin Seibert but lost four points on the drop.
• Tied at 24 in the fourth quarter, Seibert missed a 44-yard field-goal attempt. Seibert is 2 of 4 from field-goal range this year.
Saturday may not have been Baker Mayfield’s best statistical line of the year, 24 of 33 for 323 yards, but three passes were dropped by three different receivers.
Give credit to Iowa State, which successfully carried out its game plan of not relinquishing the home run play. OU’s longest offensive play of the day was a 35-yard run by Abdul Adams before he was injured.
Here’s Iowa State’s second-half offensive storyline with a third stringer at the throttle.
• Drive No. 1. — Eleven plays, 50 yards, finalized by a field goal.
• Drive No. 2 — Seven plays, 94 yards, finalized by a short pass which resulted in a 28-yard TD.
• Drive No. 3 — Two plays, 73 yards, finalized by a short pass which resulted in a 57-yard touchdown.
• Drive No. 4 — Nine plays, 75 yards, finalized by a 28-yard scoring pass into the end zone.
On its four second-half possessions, the Cyclones amassed 254 yards on 30 plays, an 8.4-yard average. Stoops was right. It was bad defensive football — at any level.
After OU’s first two possessions of the game, the Sooners led 14-0 and had out-offensed the Cyclones 158-6. From that point on, ISU won the statistical battle 443-355 behind a QB who was listed behind second-string freshman Zeb Noland on the depth chart.
“They played more disciplined than we did,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said. “Defensively, we gave them two critical, vital penalties which were game-changing. Giving them a free pass is just bad football.
“I’m not dejected. I know what this team can be. I told them Texas will be the most important game for us this year.”
• Iowa State, which didn’t have a turnover, entered Saturday’s game as one of just eight teams nationally who hadn’t lost a fumble.
• The Oklahoma-Texas game in Dallas will kick off at 2:30 p.m. Other Big 12 matchups Saturday are Baylor at Oklahoma State at 2:30, TCU at Kansas State at 11 a.m. Texas Tech at West Virginia at 11 a.m. and Kansas at Iowa State at 11 a.m.
• OU is a 7 ½-point favorite against he Longhorns. OSU is a 23 ½-point favorite against the Bears.