The Big 12 Championship is on the line this Saturday as the Oklahoma Sooners (7-2) battle the Iowa State Cyclones (8-2) inside AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Tex. Kickoff is at noon Eastern.
The two teams met on Oct. 3 in the regular season, with Iowa State pulling out the seven-point win as seven-point underdogs. It was the Cyclones' first victory over Oklahoma in Ames since 1960.
Postseason play did not appear to be in the cards for the Sooners after that, their second loss in three games, but they haven’t lost since, rattling off six in a row to close out their schedule.
Several conferences have endured varying degrees of drama as they enter conference championship weekend, but OU and ISU were clearly the top two teams in the Big 12. Oklahoma's’ in-state rival, Oklahoma State, also had six conference wins (and seven total), but the Sooners dominated Bedlam this year, giving Oklahoma the tiebreaker and the right to play for the conference crown.
After that shaky start to begin the season, freshman quarterback Spencer Rattler settled in and finished the regular season with the most passing yards, and the second-most touchdown passes, in the Big 12. Rattler has had a trio of targets to throw to this year as Marvin Mims, Theo Wease, and Austin Stogner combined for 87 receptions and 13 touchdowns. But in the first meeting with Iowa State, it was tight end Jeremiah Hall who found the end zone twice.
Is This Heaven?
Success has been hard to come by for the Iowa State football program, but this Saturday, the Cyclones will play in the Big 12 Championship for the first time in program history. Win or lose, they’ll be playing in just their 16th bowl game all-time, but fourth straight under head coach Matt Campbell. Campbell will now be on the short-list for several high-profile vacancies this offseason, and has now won more conference games in his five seasons than Dan McCarney did in his final 10.
And they’ve won this year by being balanced.
Breece Hall not only led the Big-12 in rushing, but his 1,357 yards are the most in the country. His 17 touchdowns are by the most in the conference and fourth-best in the nation. Xavier Hutchinson leads the team in receptions and receiving yards, and Charlie Kolar (who set the school record for receiving yards by a tight end last year) is rising up many draft boards.
Betting Line and Pick
As noted, Oklahoma was a touchdown-favorite in the first meeting, and though they’re favored again, they’re laying 5.5 points this time around. The over/under is set at 58 despite the teams combining for 67 in October. The two are a combined 12-7 ATS this season.
Both teams went over 400 yards of total offense back in October, and with the weather not playing a factor inside Jerry’s World, we should see more of the same.
The difference will come down to Iowa State’s run game. We highlighted Hall’s success this year, which included a 139-yard performance against Oklahoma. The Sooners, however, finished the season as the fourth-best defense against the run in the country. If they make the Cyclones one-dimensional, Oklahoma wins. However, Iowa State will stick with their plan and cover this number, if not win the game outright.
Pick: Iowa State +5.5