Last week's bye came at a precarious time for the Sooners following a loss that put their hopes of winning the Big 12 and making the playoff on life support. Bob Stoops has had success in the past rallying the troops for the home stretch, but it's not uncommon to see teams with such high hopes coming into a season pack it in after a rough start.
Here are five things I'll be watching as OU tries to right the ship in Ames.
1. Mark Mangino Revenge Tour rolls on
Iowa State's offensive coordinator doesn't hold a grudge that I know of against OU. On the other hand, he knows the Stoops brothers pretty well.
It wouldn't shock me if the big fella has a well-structured plan of attack designed to take advantage of Mike Stoops' tendencies as a defensive strategist.
Speaking of which, if Mangino has been paying attention the last few weeks, opponents have used wide splits between their offensive linemen to spread out the Oklahoma D and neutralize the Crimson and Cream pass rush.
These kinds of plays put an onus on defenders to control their one-on-one matchups. One guy who should definitely be on his toes is inside linebacker Dom Alexander, who seems to be getting caught up in the wash pretty often lately.
3. Fire Lazard
Highly touted recruit Allen Lazard has started to come into his own recently. He has caught a total of 16 balls and two touchdowns in ISU's last two games.
Will cornerback Zack Sanchez draw primary responsibility for the hyped freshman? Chances are that Mike Stoops will try to mix up OU's coverage schemes to keep the 'Clones off balance. Whatever the case may be, the Sooner defensive backs will probably be working overtime to keep track of ISU's best offensive weapon.
4. Ford tough
Even before it was announced that first-string running back Keith Ford would give it a go against the 'Clones, OU had a chance to do some damage with its running attack versus ISU. The Sooners shouldn't have much trouble wearing out a D that ranks 124th nationally in Defensive Rushing S&P+.
Hopefully, Ford will have a chance to ease back into the rotation at tailback after Samaje Perine and Alex Ross capably covered for him in his absence.
5. Trevor Knight's health
I wasn't shocked that OU's starting quarterback missed some practice time with an injury last week. I do wonder how effective he'll be, though, even if he's ready to rock.
I'm anticipating a run-heavy offensive game plan from coordinator Josh Heupel that won't ask Knight to do much unless he's desperately needed.