Oklahoma coach Brent Venables is trying to build his defense into a powerhouse like the ones he coordinated at Clemson and as an assistant coach with the Sooners.

Iowa State’s defensive ascension under coach Matt Campbell over the past seven seasons is an example for Venables to follow.

“They’ve been the example of what good defense has been in this conference, consistently, over the last four or five years,” Venables said. “They do a great job, developing their guys, believing in their system, and again, playing with great effort and physicality.”

On Saturday, Oklahoma (4-3, 1-3 Big 12) will face Iowa State (3-4, 0-4 Big 12) in Ames, Iowa, with the Sooners looking to maintain some momentum while the Cyclones will aim to turn theirs around after both teams had byes last week.

Iowa State has dropped four consecutive games by a combined 14 points. Its past three games have been decided by a field goal or less.

The Cyclones are tied for sixth nationally in average points allowed per game (15.1) and are 10th in total defense, holding opponents to less than 290 yards per game.

It figures to be strength against strength, as Oklahoma is 23th nationally in total offense, a number that would be even better had quarterback Dillon Gabriel — who missed all of the Sooners’ 49-0 loss to Texas on Oct. 8 and most of their 55-24 loss to TCU a week earlier — remained healthy.

On Oct. 15, Gabriel returned to throw for 403 yards and two touchdowns and run for 37 yards and a score in a 52-42 win over then-No. 19 Kansas that snapped Oklahoma’s three-game losing streak, its longest since 1998.

“If we put it all together, as we’ve shown a few times this year, we’ve got everything that we need,” Venables said.

But the Sooners need plenty of help defensively as well. Venables said he was hopeful safety Billy Bowman, who was injured against TCU, was close to returning, though he wasn’t sure Bowman would be available against Iowa State.

The Cyclones also have missed several key players due to injury.

“We’re maybe as close to healthy as we have been since the beginning of the season,” Campbell said.

–Field Level Media