Caleb Williams leads No. 12 Oklahoma past Iowa State 28-21

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NORMAN, Okla. – Oklahoma’s imperfect season still could end with a Big 12 championship, and possibly more.

Caleb Williams passed for a touchdown and ran for another, Jalen Redmond returned a fumble for a score, and No. 12 Oklahoma beat Iowa State 28-21 on Saturday.

Kennedy Brooks ran for 115 yards for the Sooners (10-1, 7-1 Big 12, No. 13 CFP), who bounced back from a loss to Baylor and solidified their chances of reaching the Big 12 title game and winning a seventh straight conference title. They also kept alive their slim College Football Playoff hopes and did their part to set up a showdown with No. 9 Oklahoma State next Saturday to close the regular season.

Iowa State has been a thorn in Oklahoma’s side in recent years, beating the Sooners in 2017 and 2020. Oklahoma beat the Cyclones in the Big 12 championship game last year.

“That’s a darn good football team,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said. “We all know. We’ve been in a lot of battles against those guys.”

The Sooners pushed through, despite at times missing more than 20 players during the week with the flu.

Iowa State tight end Charlie Kolar, playing in his hometown of Norman, Oklahoma, had career highs of 12 catches and 152 yards. Brock Purdy passed for 281 yards and a touchdown for Iowa State (6-5, 4-4), which was eliminated from the Big 12 title race.

Iowa State got the ball at its 14-yard line, trailing 28-21 with two minutes left in the game. The Cyclones drove to the Oklahoma 21, but Pat Fields intercepted a pass by Purdy with 15 seconds remaining to end the threat.

The previous week, the Cyclones lost at Texas Tech on a 62-yard field goal as time expired.

“We never die easy, but man we find some crazy ways to lose sometimes,” Kolar said.

Williams broke loose for a 74-yard touchdown run – the longest play of the season for the Sooners – to tie the game at 7 in the first quarter.

Late in the second quarter, Iowa State drove into Oklahoma territory. Oklahoma’s Key Lawrence jarred the ball loose from Purdy, and Redmond got the perfect bounce in stride and took it 42 yards for a touchdown. The score gave the Sooners a 14-7 lead with nine seconds left in the first half.

“Oh man, he could take my spot,” Brooks joked. “He was nice with it. That scoop-and-score, them high knees, ball security. I loved it, loved it. He took off. He even got some speed on him, too. That thing was amazing.”

Williams found Mario Williams in the end zone for an 11-yard score to increase Oklahoma’s lead 21-7 late in the third.

Andrew Mevis ran 29 yards on a fake punt early in the fourth quarter to put the Cyclones in Oklahoma territory. Later in the drive, backup Hunter Dekkers – in for the shaken-up Purdy – connected with Chase Allen to cut Oklahoma’s lead to 21-14.

Oklahoma later added a five-play, 68-yard drive – all running plays – that ended with a 7-yard touchdown run by Eric Gray with 5:06 remaining. Brooks ran for 45 yards on three carries on the drive.

Kolar caught a 2-yard touchdown pass from Purdy to cut Oklahoma’s lead to 28-21 with 2:57 remaining, setting up the dramatic finish.

“You know, losing sucks, and we keep coming up short, and it’s just frustrating,” Kolar said.

THE TAKEAWAY

Iowa State: The Cyclones came maddeningly close to having a special season. All five of their losses are by 10 or fewer points. They’ve lost three of their past four, all by seven or fewer points.

Oklahoma: The Sooners once again found a way to win a tight game. Despite getting just 96 yards out of their passing game, Oklahoma claimed its sixth win by seven or fewer points this season.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Sooners should climb at least two spots after Michigan State and Wake Forest were blown out.

CLIMBING THE CHARTS

Brooks became the 11th Oklahoma player to rush for at least 3,000 yards in a career. His career total is now 3,035 yards after Saturday’s performance.

“I mean, it’s a great accomplishment being part of those top players that have come through OU at running back,” he said. “To do that, it’s pretty amazing. But I give all the credit to the offensive line that I have and the coaches for giving me an opportunity.”

MONSTER HIT

Oklahoma defensive lineman Perrion Winfrey hammered Purdy late in the first quarter , delivering perhaps the hit of the season for the Sooners.

Winfrey caught Purdy off-guard while he was scrambling.

“I’m glad it wasn’t me,” Riley, a quarterback in his younger days, said. “That was a shot. It was. And those are some of the momentum plays, man, that just get you going. The crowd was going crazy at that point.”

HALL’S RECORD

Iowa State’s Breece Hall tied an FBS record by scoring a rushing touchdown in his 23rd consecutive game. Arkansas’ Bill Burnett did it from 1968-70. He ran for 58 yards on 19 carries.

UP NEXT

Iowa State hosts TCU.

Oklahoma visits No. 9 Oklahoma State.

Florida shakes up secondary after dismal game at Tennessee

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida coach Billy Napier is shaking up his secondary after the Gators allowed 349 yards passing – including 247 of those on eight plays – in a loss at Tennessee.

Safety Trey Dean, a fifth-year senior who has started 32 games and played in 54, is out with what Florida is calling a “lower leg injury.” But no one would be surprised if Napier was quietly benching Dean after he made two mental errors against the Volunteers that resulted in 70- and 45-yard gains and set up touchdowns.

Freshman Kamari Wilson will replace Dean and make his first college start Sunday against Eastern Washington.

Cornerback Jaydon Hill will join Wilson in the starting lineup. Hill, a third-year sophomore, will make his first start since 2020. He missed the 2021 season with a torn knee ligament. He impressed Napier and his new staff in the spring but sat out preseason camp with another knee injury.

Hill will replace sophomore Avery Helm, who also struggled against the Vols.

“You talk about what he’s been through from an injury perspective,” Napier said following practice Wednesday. “Jaydon was one of the better players that we had on our team in spring practice. I was very impressed . It’s no surprise to me. He showed pretty quickly here that he’s very capable. I’m excited to watch him play.”

Georgia transfer Jalen Kimber, a former five-star recruit, is now listed as a third-team cornerback. Kimber played just 11 snaps in Knoxville a week after he returned an interception for a touchdown in a 31-28 win against South Florida.

“I like to say we try to eliminate the bad football,” Napier said. “Talking about mental errors, misalignments, poor communication, bad fundamentals and techniques, bad decision-making within the play. … We have a laundry list of things that we need to eliminate each week.

“Last week’s game, I thought we were really close, but there’s 12 or 15 plays in the game where Florida is beating Florida. We’ve got a smart group here. I think they’re very aware of what the issues are, and I think they’re working hard to address those issues.”

Pac-12 looking stronger at top after early-season losses

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When Oregon got throttled by top-ranked Georgia and Utah lost at Florida, it appeared as though the Pac-12 was headed toward another College Football Playoff miss.

One week into the season and two of the conference’s top teams had already failed big early tests.

Flash forward three weeks and it seems the Pac-12 might be in good shape after all.

The Ducks and Utes bounced back with big wins and the top of the conference looks strong, with four teams in the top 15 for the first time since 2016.

It’s still early, but the Pac-12 is putting itself in position to get a team through to the CFP for the first time since Washington in 2016-17.

A look at how the top of the Pac-12 is stacking up headed into the first weekend of October:

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

The No. 6 Trojans (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) seem to have quickly returned to glory in their first season under Lincoln Riley. The former Oklahoma coach brought quarterback Caleb Williams with him to Southern California and they have thrived through the first four games.

Williams has thrown for 1,054 yards and nine touchdowns, adding 100 yards and two more scores rushing. USC’s defense has been opportunistic, leading the nation with 11 interceptions while tied for the lead with 14 takeaways.

The Trojans survived a scare against scrappy Oregon State over the weekend to start 4-0 for the first time since 2012. USC has to play at Utah on Oct. 15, but avoids Washington and Oregon this season.

UTAH

The 12th-ranked Utes opened the season with a tough road loss at The Swamp in Florida, but have won three straight lopsided games.

Outside of a costly interception late against the Gators, quarterback Cam Rising has been sharp, throwing for 954 yards and 10 TDs. Utah (3-1, 1-0) has a physical defense and is third in the FBS, allowing 132.8 yards passing per game.

The Utes also have a veteran team that won the Pac-12 championship last season. The bad news: tight end Brant Kuithe, their leading receiver, is out for the season with a knee injury.

Utah plays Oregon State this weekend and has tough games against USC and Oregon still on the schedule.

OREGON

The Ducks’ playoff chances took an immediate hit with a 49-3 loss to reigning national champion Georgia in their opener.

No. 13 Oregon (3-1, 1-0) bounced back with a decisive win over a good BYU team and outlasted previously undefeated Washington State 44-41 last week.

The Ducks were no match for the Bulldogs in any aspect – few teams are – but have averaged 51.6 points the past three games. Oregon’s biggest weakness is its pass defense. The Ducks are allowing 72.5% of passes to be completed, third worst in the country.

Oregon’s biggest tests left in the season will come in back to back games against Washington and Utah.

WASHINGTON

The Huskies have made a quick turnaround in their first season under coach Kalen DeBoer.

Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has been superb now that he’s healthy, throwing for an FBS-best 1,388 yards and 12 TDs with one interception. No. 15 Washington (4-0, 1-0) picked up a solid home win against Michigan State and has 15 sacks this season, including eight against Stanford last week.

The Huskies play their first road game at undefeated UCLA on Saturday and have to face Oregon on Nov. 12.

UCLA

After winning at Colorado for the first time since 2014 last Saturday, the Bruins (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) have their longest winning streak since winning the first eight games in 2005.

UCLA had a hard time getting past South Alabama and opened its Pac-12 schedule with a win against the struggling Buffaloes.

The Bruins will find out how good they are over the next three weeks, a brutal stretch that includes home games against Washington and Utah before heading to Eugene to play the Ducks on Oct. 22.