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Iowa State Plants the Flag in Third-Ranked Oklahoma

The Sooners were no match for a walk-on and a linebacker playing quarterback

Iowa State v Oklahoma Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images

Two things can happen with truly phenomenal smack talk. Either you’ll remember it for the rest of your life or nobody will ever let you forget it.

For Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma, the latter will happen. Just as Mayfield planted Oklahoma’s flag in Ohio State’s field Week 2, an Iowa State Cyclone planted their state flag in Mayfield’s field after Iowa State beat the third-ranked Sooners 38-31 Saturday.

Mics also caught an Iowa State player yelling, “WHO’S YOUR DADDY?”—seemingly a response to Mayfield telling Baylor players that Oklahoma was their daddy.

Honestly, if I was part of Iowa State’s travel team, I would not have even brought the flag to Norman. The Cyclones hadn’t beaten the Sooners since 1990, and were 1-45-1 against the Sooners since 1962. (They had ties back then.) Starting quarterback Jacob Park left the Cyclones last week for undisclosed reasons, leaving the team to face the Sooners with Kyle Kempt at quarterback. Kempt, a walk-on senior, had just two career pass attempts between three schools, having previously lost quarterback competitions at Oregon State and at Hutchinson Community College. That left the Cyclones as 31-point underdogs.

Well, if Kempt was a backup at Hutchinson Community College, Oklahoma has to pray that Hutchinson Community College never shows up on their schedule, because the Sooners absolutely could not handle Kempt. The senior went 18-for-24 for 343 yards and three touchdowns. He threw the decisive touchdown to Allen Lazard:

Lazard has been one of the best receivers in college football for four years, and I’ve spent most of those four years wishing his tremendous talents had been on display somewhere besides Iowa State, where the quarterbacks were iffy and the losses were plentiful. But seeing Lazard snag a beauty like this to earn the upset of the year makes it worth it.

Kempt shared snaps with Joel Lanning, who played quarterback for the Cyclones last year but moved to linebacker this year. Lanning played offense, defense, and special teams Saturday; he completed two passes, ran the ball nine times for 35 yards, recorded eight tackles, sacked Baker Mayfield, and picked up an Oklahoma fumble in the red zone. Next week, he’ll probably be the team’s kicker. Maybe head coach, too, although Matt Campbell has done a pretty all right job thus far.

First and foremost, you should take a moment to recognize how awesome it is that Iowa State just pulled the upset of the season with a journeyman walk-on senior and a linebacker at quarterback.

Now that that moment’s over, let’s talk about how Oklahoma—considered a national title contender after the win over Ohio State—just allowed 38 points and lost to a team with a journeyman walk-on senior and a linebacker at quarterback.

Oklahoma’s defense is not great. We knew this last year, when the Sooners gave up 45 points to Ohio State, 46 to TCU, 40 to Texas, and 59 to Texas Tech. They won three of those games, because their offense is awesome. Mayfield didn’t even play that poorly—he had 306 yards with two touchdowns and no picks. But with this defense, it wasn’t enough. This is the life Oklahoma signed up for by promoting 34-year-old pass-game guru to head coach in the wake of Bob Stoops’s sudden retirement. There’s an emphasis on scoring here—and the Sooners do score—but they might not always win with this defense.

I don’t want to eliminate anybody from national title contention unless they have two losses, but life is going to be hard for Oklahoma from here on out. The beginning of the Sooners’ conference season was supposed to be the easy part, as the Sooners’ schedule is back-loaded with Oklahoma State, TCU, and West Virginia in the final four weeks of the year. And the Big 12 now has a championship game—another opportunity for the Sooners to lose.

Honestly, the whole Big 12 might be in trouble—Oklahoma and Oklahoma State were supposed to be the two potential title contenders, and they both have losses with most of October and all of November left to go.

And besides, we don’t know if anybody can beat Iowa State. What if some of their cornerbacks can also play QB?