NORMAN — As the legendary cartoon character Pogo was known to say, “We have met the enemy and he is us.’’
The Oklahoma Sooners could feel that way after a shocking 38-31 loss to Iowa State — a team that it was 45-1-1 in the last 47 meetings (the Cyclones last two wins being 21-15 in 1961 and 33-31) in 1990.
The shock was how the Sooners lost. OU fell from No. 3 to No. 12 in this week’s Associated Press poll.
• Backup quarterback Kyle Kempf, who hadn’t thrown a pass all season, was 18 of 24 passing for 343 yards and three touchdowns. He was replacing starter Jacob Park, who was left at home “for personal health reasons.’’
Eight of Iowa State’s 20 completions were for 20 or more yards, including scoring strikes of 28 yards to Marchie Murdock, 57 yards to Trever Ryen and 25 yards to Allen Lazard for the game-winner. Kempf hit Hakeem Butler for a 54-yard pass to set up a field goal with four seconds left in the half to cut the OU deficit to 24-13, many of which felt was a major momentum changer.
• A personal foul against Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and unsportsmanlike penalty against linebacker Kenneth Murray helped extend Cyclone touchdown scoring drives.
• OU which had 11 quarterback sacks in its four games had only one Saturday.
“Defensively, the biggest thing that showed up to me was that we had two critical penalties that were drive and game-changing penalties,’’ said OU coach Lincoln Riley. “We didn’t tackle well the entire day. The pressure wasn’t very consistent. He threw the ball well and they made a couple of contested plays, but the ones that I was more disappointed in were the ones that we weren’t there and the yards after contact that they made.’’
Joel Lanning, who had been moved from quarterback to middle linebacker after losing the starting job to Park, took some snaps under center and was effective both as a runner (nine carries for 35 yards) and a passer (two for three for 25 yards).
Riley said the Sooners anticipated Lanning might take some snaps at quarterback when it was revelaed Friday Park wouldn’t play. He said OU was prepared for it but didn’t get to practice for it.
“It wasn’t something that caught us off guard,’’ he said. “It was a little bit of an adjustment, yes, but it still comes down to tackling and dumb penalties.’’
He was especially disappointed in the 57-yard touchdown pass to Ryen on a simple bubble screen pass.
“We normally defend swing screens so well,’’ he said. “We missed quite a few tackles in space. We had a lot of our guys trying to tee them up so much to get the big hit and make the big play. We just have to settle in and put them on the ground. We have to get better at that.’’
Okoronkwo refused to use the quarterback switch as an excuse for poor play.
“We went over all of that stuff in practice,’’ he said. “Everything we saw today, we saw in practice. We should have just executed better.’’
“He (Kempf) did the same things as the other quarterback,’’ said OU cornerback Parnell Motley. “That wasn’t a big part of it.’’
Motley said the Sooners didn’t adjust well enough.
“We were at the right place at the wrong time,’’ he said. “Penalties played a big part today. We got to stay disciplined. Those plays really matter. I was disappointed that I didn’t get the leverage and let him get outside of me.’’
• The game’s turning point may have been a fumble exchange between quarterback Baker Mayfield and running back Trey Sermon when OU was marching down field on its first posession of the second half. Lanning would recover at the Cyclone five. Instead of leading 31-16, the Sooners found themselves tied at 24 when ISU would convert that score into a touchdown and two-point conversion.
“I could have handed it off or pulled it back and thrown it,’’ Mayfield said. “It would have been a touchdown either way.’’
“We had some critical mistakes on offense,’’ Riley said. “That (fumble) was the biggest sequence of the game. We did some good things offensively, but we didn’t finish.’’
Mayfield was 24 of 33 passing for 306 yards and two touchdowns. He set a Big 12 record for having thrown two touchdown passes in 18 straight games, but OU scored only once in the second half.
Mayfield spent most of the game scrambling as Iowa State was effective rushing three and having eight defend passes. He was having to scramble when he tried to hit Marquise Brown on OU’s final play of the game — a fourth and four from the Sooner 42.
“When they drop eight people in coverage, you’re going to have to scramble,’’ Mayfield said. “For the most part, we had guys open, but on that last drive, they did a better job covering up and not giving me a chance to get the first down. They had been letting me run and get the first down, but this time it wasn’t open.’’
“They had a great game plan,’’ said OU tight end Mark Andrews. “I know the fumble was a big momentum changer. We could have done a lot of things better. I could have blocked better and helped our backs out more. They (ISU) played really hard. They came to our house and beat us which is not easy to do.’’
OU lost both receiver Cede Lamb (left shoulder) and running back Abdul Adams (lower leg) to injuries early, but Mayfield refused to use that as an excuse.
“We have that next man up mentality,’’ Mayfield said. “Jordan Smallwood really stepped up for Cede. It was all about us scoring only seven points in the second half.’’