Iowa State running back Breece Hall running the ball against Louisiana.
Photo Courtesy of Iowa State Athletics
By: James Powell
Two weeks ago, after a deflating loss, Head Coach Matt Campbell was quoted as saying “we are not in panic mode”.
I’d say that strategy worked out pretty well for him and the team.
After a score-deceptive dominant victory over TCU in Fort Worth a week ago, Iowa State picked up one of the most historic wins in team history over Oklahoma, 37-30, and now sit atop the Big 12 standings at 2-0.
It’s easy for Matt Campbell to say he wasn’t in panic mode, but the city of Ames and the Cyclone faithful weren’t as patient. This team was considered written out of Big 12 relevance, and certainly competition for a spot in the Big 12 championship game by many.
But, as is usually the case, much was made of, yes, a bad game, but it’s one game out of the ten that Iowa State are guaranteed to play this year. They certainly showed they will not go down quietly.
There was much fanfare coming into this game, a primetime slot on national television, with the Cyclones donning their all-black uniforms that seemingly always turns them into an unbeatable powerhouse. Even the turf at Jack Trice was transformed to create a very aesthetically pleasing scene that had the writings of upset before the ball was even kicked.
The game does still have to be played, and early on, it looked as though Oklahoma, who hadn’t lost back-to-back games since 1998, played like a team that didn’t want to fall to 0-2 in conference play. They settled for a field goal on their first possession, but only after Iowa State made a goal-line stand, the result of a big pass play by Spencer Rattler.
Iowa State’s offense sputtered and ultimately struggled for the first chunk of the game, and the Sooners took a 17-6 lead late in the second quarter after a short run by Rattler.
However, the Cyclones got a huge score in large part thanks to a 42 yard catch-and-run (emphasis on the run) by Tarique Milton. It’s worth noting that Milton was not present for both games of the season to start, but that was certainly a welcomed sight for Cyclone fans.
17-13 at half was much more attainable for Iowa State, who also got the football to start the second half.
The first drive of the second half was a steady dose of sophomore stud Breece Hall, as well as a couple defensive penalties that moved the Cyclones down the field to kick their third field goal of the game, cutting the lead to 17-16.
It’s worth noting that Iowa State took off 6:41 of game time to start the second half, but it was clear that it would be touchdowns, not field goals, that would sink this feisty, solid Oklahoma offense.
Oklahoma responded with a six-minute, field goal drive of their own to take a 20-16 lead near the end of the third quarter.
Iowa State’s second third-quarter drive was nothing like the first, with three plays yielding 75 yards, most of them coming off a 65 yard catch-and-run from Xavier Hutchinson to get the touchdown Iowa State was longing for, taking a 23-20 lead into the fourth quarter.
It’s worth noting that Iowa State did not have but a few hundred fans at the first home game against Louisiana. Jack Trice, along with most all college stadiums, are usually more impactful in the game the more people you can have in the bleachers.
That was very prevalent in the latter stages of this game, with roughly 16,000 fans making enough noise to at least make their voices heard.
Although the Cyclones were leading at the end of three, the game was far from over. The Sooners carried over a drive into the fourth that tied the game at 23. What came next would likely have been the turning point of the game if Oklahoma did come out with a win, a five play drive from Iowa State that resulted in a Brock Purdy fumble, giving the visitors tremendous field position that they would not waste, scoring relatively quickly to go up 30-23.
That turn of events certainly helped momentum switch benches, and it seemed to suck the life out of the crowd as well, if only for the time being.
However, Kene Nwangwu took a Oklahoma kick return 85 yards almost to the house, if not for a shove out of bounds at the 13 yard line. That play did end up being the momentum shift the Cyclones desperately needed, tying the game up on 2 plays, with Brock Purdy running it in from a couple yards out to tie the game up with about 7 minutes to play.
Iowa State would obviously have to get a stop on defense if they wanted to win the game, and a Mike Rose sack on third and long helped put the Cyclones in the driver’s seat, with what would seemingly be Breece Hall driving the team to victory.
Hall ran for 36 yards, then another eight to give Iowa State the final lead, which they would not relinquish. Isheem Young picked off Rattler in the end zone off a deep ball to seal the deal, and pandemonium ensued for a team that hadn’t beaten Oklahoma in their place since 1960.
With the Big 12 (and college football) being what it is this season, every game is of the utmost importance. That has been on full display for the Cyclones so far, with everyone writing them off after week one, and now most are whispering of Iowa State competing for a Big 12 title in a couple months.
Surely, if you asked Matt Campbell, or any of the team, you’d hear that they never counted themselves out, and you could see that belief in the philosophy and trust of the process that now has Iowa State as in control of their Big 12 destiny as anyone so far.
They next welcome Texas Tech to Jack Trice, kicking off at 2:30 on Oct. 10th.