NORMAN — Oklahoma’s up-and-down season was at rock bottom with a little over a minute left in the first half. It was trailing Iowa State — the same team that hadn’t won a game since late September — by a touchdown at Owen Field.
The Sooners’ condition was grave due to a sputtering offense, a depleted defense and low energy.
Then, Jalen Saunders caught a punt at his own 9-yard line. The complexion of the entire afternoon changed with what Saunders did after securing the ball.
The Sooners went from dormant to dominant in a 48-10 victory.
“After that, things started rolling downhill,” Saunders said.
It was his 91-yard punt return for a touchdown that jolted the Sooners out of hibernation.
Prior to Saunders’ punt return, OU (8-2, 5-2 Big 12) had 110 yards of total offense. It finished the day with 405. Before it, Iowa State (1-9, 0-7) had a seven-point lead and snowballing optimism it could get its first victory at Owen Field since 1990.
Well, OU scored 38 points — five touchdowns and a field goal — on its next six possessions.
How the offensive onslaught occurred was the other oddity Saturday. Offensively, the Sooners went full circle. Blake Bell left the game early in the second quarter after taking a hit from Iowa State’s Willie Scott on a 5-yard run. He did not return and OU coach Bob Stoops did not reveal the extent of the injury.
But Trevor Knight entered and OU’s offense found a gear it hasn’t seen all season in the second half. Damien Williams rushed for 128 yards and two touchdowns. Knight ran for 123 yards and a touchdown. Brennan Clay needed just seven carries to accumulate 86 yards. All three scored on touchdown runs of 56 yards or more.
“That’s what we came in today to do, run the ball,” Williams said.