AMES- Turnovers equal victory.
Falling 37-30 at the hands of the Iowa State Cyclones, the Sooners lost their second consecutive regular season game for the first time since 1999.
“A tough loss,” Sooners coach Lincoln Riley said after the game. “We were playing good ball, just not great ball and had some chances to separate against a good team on the road.”
“When you’re a great team you take advantage of those and we’re not quite there yet.”
For the second straight week, the Oklahoma Sooners saw their hopes of a victory end with an errant pass from redshirt freshman Spencer Rattler.
Unfortunately for Rattler, the game-clinching interception will tarnish what was an outstanding performance.
Completing 25-of-36 passes for 300 yards and two touchdowns, Rattler put the Oklahoma offense on his back for stretches of the third quarter when the Sooners struggled to gain a foothold in the running game.
Rattler responded especially well when the game tightened in the third quarter.
Receiving the ball just up a point, Rattler used his legs to extend plays and pick up key yardage on the ground.
Facing third and 14, the freshman stepped up and delivered a 13-yard scramble, giving Riley confidence in his quarterback to keep the offense on the field on fourth down.
The next play, Rattler delivered a bullet to Drake Stoops, keeping the drive alive.
The Sooners had to settle for a field goal after Obi Obialo failed to reel in a touchdown, and missed opportunities would haunt Oklahoma all night.
Oklahoma had to settle for three field goals when drives stalled out, as well as Gabe Brkic missing his first field goal for the Sooners just before halftime.
“[We had] to kick some of those field goals when we were moving the ball at will,” Riley said.
“Just a few little things here and there that were the difference between having a small lead at halftime and a really big lead.”
Rattler was responsible for most of the offensive production as the Sooners had to scrape and claw for every yard on the ground most of the evening.
Alex Grinch’s defense forced a fumble early in the fourth quarter, but Isaiah Thomas’ strip should have been the third or fourth turnover by Cyclone quarterback Brock Purdy.
Junior safety Pat Fields had his hands on two Purdy passes in the first half, but was unable to haul either of them in.
Brendan Radley-Hiles appeared to be in position to intercept Purdy on Iowa State’s second drive of the third quarter, but Landen Akers wrestled the ball from Radley-Hiles as they fell to the ground.
As a result, the Sooners once again failed to win the turnover battle.
The inability to force turnovers paired with missed tackles leading to big plays was reminiscent of the problems Oklahoma had closing out the Wildcats just seven days ago.
Mental mistakes continue to plague the Sooners at the worst moments as well.
The play before Xavier Hutchinson’s 65-yard touchdown catch to give Iowa State their first lead, Tre Brown was called for a defensive holding on third down when otherwise the Cyclones would have had to punt.
Brown’s mistake was a microcosm of the game at large, where the Sooners defense struggled to get off the field, allowing the Cyclones to convert on 60 percent of third downs.
Later in the game, after Thomas’ fumble, Kene Nwangwu busted a 85-yard kickoff return to set the Cyclones up for a touchdown and seizing the momentum.
“We know what we can be, and we’re not there yet,” Riley said. “I know nobody wants to hear it, but the reality is we’re close. We’re closer than even we think right now.”
For the second straight week the Sooners will be picking up the pieces with a huge matchup on the horizon.
Oklahoma heads to the Cotton Bowl to face the Texas Longhorns, also entering the game off a loss.
“Our back’s against the wall here are a football team,” Riley said. “We know that, we understand that, we accept that.”
“It’s still about how you respond.”
Featured photo courtesy of Ty Russell.