AMES, Iowa — Still a little more than a half hour before the kick at Jack Trice Stadium, where if it's 55 outside it's 90 inside thanks to a brillian Iowa sun. With some time, a quick review of today's sublots appears in order before No. 4 Oklahoma meets foundering Iowa State.
1. Assuming victory, which seems likely in the face of a 30-point spread, the Sooner Nation has to be wondering if, for a third straight Saturday, OU will get more help in the national title race. Technically, the Sooners have already received it this week, Thursday night, when Rutgers stunned No. 2 South Florida. There are some candidates. No. 5 LSU — ahead of OU in the BCS — plays host to No. 18 Auburn. Though unranked, Michigan State might be capable of giving No. 1 Ohio State a hard time.
2. The Sooners are still waiting to play something close to a complete game. At Colorado, they fell apart in the fourth quarter. Against Texas, it took a few huge and singluar plays to make up for a few clear breakdowns. Against Missouri, two turnovers had Bob Stoops steaming after the game, while the Tigers' four turnovers may have been the biggest reason most of the fans exiting Owen Field were smiling. OU could really use a start-to-finish domination unseen since non-conference play ended.
3. OU is 4-0 at home, 1-0 on neutral fields (Texas), 1-0 on the road at a place it had half the fans (Tulsa) and 0-1 in truly hostile environments (Colorado). It's only the Cyclones, yet it remains a true road game, a test the Sooners have yet to pass.
4. Can Sam Bradford keep it going. The nation's pass-efficiency leader (181.15) continues to impress. Today might be an opportunity to pad his 20 to 4 touchdown to interception radio.
5. Barring an absolute complete game, can the Sooners get a complete game on the ground? Allen Patrick, DeMarco Murray, Chris Brown and — if it's a laugher — Mossis Madu and Jacob Gutierrez should all get their chances to carry the ball.
1. Does the Season of the Upset hold anything for Cyclones. Or, better put, anything more. Just 1-6 on the season, the Cyclones have already lost to Kent State, Toledo and Northern Iowa. The one victory? In-state rival Iowa. Does that make Northern Iowa king of the rolling corn fields?
2. Do the Cyclones mail it in? Questionable is just what Iowa State has left to play for. Recently a player in the Big 12 North, Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State and Colorado all appear to have passed the Cyclones by. (Bright side? Dan McCarney struggled as a young Cyclone coach, but eventually turned things around. First-year coach Gene Chizik will likely receive the same kind of time and many swear by the guy)
That's it for subplots. Now, a small bit of trivia every college footballf fan should know.
Prentice Gautt broke the color barrier at OU in 1956. It was more than a decade later it happened at Red River rival Texas. Yet Jack Trice, Iowa State's first black athlete, was playing for the Cyclones in 1922. Trice died Oct. 8, 1923 from injuries sustained on the field against Minnesota two days earlier.
How nice it is, in these days of United Spirit Arena (Texas Tech) and the Coors Center (Colorado), that football is played at a place called Jack Trice Stadium.
Until the kick …