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No one has more to gain this Saturday than Iowa State

Oklahoma easily could have won on Saturday, and Iowa State could have just as easily lost. But they didn't, and they didn't.

On the same afternoon Oklahoma turned a 35-14 lead over Kansas State into a 38-35 loss, Iowa State won a 37-34 affair at TCU.

The Big 12 is a make-or-miss league, to borrow a term from the NBA. The Cyclones happened to make their shots on Saturday and the Sooners didn't.

But because of that, Iowa State has a truly rare opportunity on Saturday -- to bury Oklahoma in the standings.

A win Saturday puts Iowa State at 2-0 and atop the Big 12 table, and OU down at the bottom at 0-2. When factoring in the tiebreaker Iowa State would gain with a win, Matt Campbell's team could essentially have a 3-game head start with seven to play over the 5-time defending conference champions.

To be perfectly clear, this won't be easy. 

Oklahoma hasn't lost consecutive games since 2014, a losing skid that ultimately brought Lincoln Riley to Norman. They haven't dropped consecutive Big 12 games since 1998, back in the prehistoric times known as the pre-Bob Stoops era.

For as much as he struggled down the stretch, Spencer Rattler made plenty of plays in Oklahoma's loss to K-State. The freshman completed nearly 75 percent of his passes for 387 yards and four touchdowns.

Iowa State's secondary was ripe for the picking in its win over TCU, too. After mostly stymying starter Matthew Downing in the first half, the Cyclones could not stop Frog quarterback Max Duggan in the second half. Duggan hit 16 of his 20 passes for 241 yards and three touchdowns (with one interception).

It's entirely possible Rattler lights Iowa State up for something like 400 yards and five touchdowns in an easy Sooner victory.

Then again, Iowa State has a puncher's chance here. More than that, actually.

Iowa State's offense was downright Sooner-esque in Fort Worth on Saturday. Brock Purdy threw for 211 yards and a touchdown on 23 attempts, and Breece Hall rushed for 154 yards and three scores on 18 carries. Iowa State needed only 51 snaps to accumulate 423 yards on a Gary Patterson defense.

This should worry Oklahoma, because Iowa State did the same thing to their own defense last season.

Purdy fired five touchdowns and rushed for another, and Hall rushed for 110 yards on 6.1 a pop as Iowa State very nearly ended OU's 20-year run of no back-to-back Big 12 losses a week after the Sooners had lost to K-State in Manhattan.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbA4UK2OiWo

Iowa State could have an advantage of the defensive side of the ball, too. The Cyclones registered six sacks against TCU; Oklahoma surrendered three to K-State.

Oklahoma also struggled to run the ball (by OU standards) against Kansas State. The Sooners' top two running backs, Seth McGowan and TJ Pledger, combined for 114 yards on 26 carries. That's not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but it's not the battering ram of a running game OU has enjoyed in the Riley years, which has, in turn, made the passing game all the more potent.

TCU didn't even attempt to establish a steady running game against Iowa State; their 43 total credited carries mustered just 101 yards.

What happens if Iowa State pulls this off?

Iowa State has never played in the Big 12 Championship. They came a win shy in 2000, 2004, 2005, and 2018, but more often than not they've not been particularly close.

A victory Saturday wouldn't punch their ticket to Dallas, far from it.

But with a 2-0 start and a tiebreaker over the Big 12's Godzilla in their back pocket, the Cyclones would become a favorite to get there.

Iowa State will be at home. Under the lights. In their all-black uniforms. Before a friendly crowd TV audience.

This ain't gonna be an easy mountain for the Cyclones to climb, but it stands before them all the same.