for this game

Oklahoma holds off upset-minded Iowa State

Oct 20, 2007 - 10:06 PM AMES, Iowa (Ticker) -- Oklahoma escaped with its national championship hopes still alive - barely.

Chris Brown rushed for two touchdowns in the second half Saturday as the fourth-ranked Sooners avoided a huge upset with a 17-7 Big 12 Conference victory over Iowa State.

A four-touchdown favorite, Oklahoma (7-1, 3-1 Big 12 South) overcame three turnovers and a scoreless first half to post its 20th straight victory here.

"I didn't have a great halftime speech," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "If you're going to be a championship team, we have to respond in difficult situations."

Oklahoma did just that, as Brown scored on an eight-yard TD run to tie the contest with 8:35 left in the third quarter. Brown put the Sooners ahead with a two-yard TD scamper 1:10 into the fourth period.

Oklahoma's defense bailed out the Sooners' sluggish offense, twice holding Iowa State (1-7, 0-4 Big 12 North) scoreless on trips inside the red zone.

The Cyclones reached Oklahoma's 7-yard line with seven minutes remaining in the contest, but defensive back D.J. Wolfe preserved the lead by intercepting a deflected pass in the end zone.

"We came into halftime and everybody was positive," Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford said. "We knew (Iowa State) was going to work hard, but everybody stayed positive and we weren't really concerned."

Oklahoma's Garrett Hartley kicked a 43-yard field goal with 1:34 remaining to clinch the victory.

Oklahoma, which has not lost on the road to Iowa State, increased its lead in a lopsided series to 67-5-2. In the last 40 meetings, the Sooners have lost only once to the Cyclones.

Still, for more than three quarters the contest was in doubt as Oklahoma looked nothing like the team that had climbed back into the top five with consecutive victories over Texas and Missouri.

"Our defense really kept us in the game in the first half," said Bradford, who struggled most of the afternoon, completing 16-of-28 passes for only 183 yards. "We were really fortunate to only be down seven at half and win."

Despite facing the worst defensive team in the Big 12, the Sooners managed only 109 yards in the first half, including 35 yards on the ground.

On Oklahoma's second possession of the game, running back Allen Patrick fumbled at the Sooners' 20-yard line. The Cyclones took advantage of the turnover to take a 7-0 lead on Jason Scales' two-yard TD run with 4:55 remaining in the first quarter.

Oklahoma had three running backs gain more than 50 yards on the ground, but redshirt freshman DeMarco Murray was the Sooners' leading rusher with just 59 yards.

While the Sooners could generate little offense in the first half, Oklahoma's defense kept the contest close. Iowa State also missed a pair of opportunities to increase its lead.

With 4:13 left in the half, Brett Culbertson missed a 36-yard field goal for the Cyclones, who were coming off a 56-3 drubbing to Texas.

Iowa State quickly got back the ball, as Alan Bell returned Bradford's interception 28 yards to the Oklahoma 18, but the Sooners' defense held.

Facing a 4th-and-1 at the 9, Iowa State coach Gene Chizik elected not to kick a field goal. The move backfired, as Scales was stopped for a three-yard loss.

"When they had turnovers, we just needed to capitalize," said Iowa State quarterback Bret Meyer, who completed 19-of-31 passes for 174 yards. "We need to help out our defense more."

The defensive stop gave Oklahoma some momentum, as the Sooners came out more focused in the second half. They marched 77 yards on 11 plays on their first possession of the third quarter to draw even.

"Oklahoma is a great football team," Chizik said. "They can run it well, they can throw it well, and they kept pounding the ball until they make it. Their football team is, if not the best, one of the best teams in the country."

Oklahoma then put together a 14-play, 80-yard drive to take the lead on Brown's second score.

Bradford kept alive the drive with a 30-yard completion to Jermaine Gresham on a screen pass on 2nd-and-20 at the Sooners' 45.

Later in the march, Bradford found Juaquin Iglesias for a 16-yard completion that gave Oklahoma a 1st-and-goal at the 4.