Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney during practice at the Poe Indoor Facility in Clemson in Clemson, S.C. Friday, December 17, 2021.

Clemson Football Practice Dec 17 Friday

Clemson, Iowa State out to shelve disappointment in Cheez-It Bowl

Clemson and Iowa State – two teams that began the season ranked among the top 10 before falling by the wayside – will try to cap disappointing seasons with a victory when they play Wednesday in the Cheez-It Bowl at Orlando.

No. 19 Clemson (9-3), which made the College Football Playoff for six consecutive seasons, had three regular-season losses for the first time since 2014. But the Tigers still have a shot to become just the third team ever to post double-digit victories for 11 consecutive seasons, joining Florida State (14, 1987-2000) and Alabama (14, 2008-2021).

No Clemson player has indicated they have plans to skip the bowl game.

“There has been a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of excitement,” Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney said. “We went seven straight days (of practice) in Clemson and obviously had new pieces and things like that, and guys have really done a good job of leading and just practicing with purpose. That’s what it takes to be successful in the postseason.”

The Tigers, who are 149-36 with 14 consecutive bowl trips in as many seasons under Swinney, got off to a 4-3 start, including a 10-3 loss to Georgia in their season opener. They rallied to close the regular season with five straight victories.

But Clemson has lost both coordinators in the past few weeks, with defensive coordinator Brent Venables taking the head coaching post at Oklahoma and offensive coordinator Tony Elliott assuming the reins at Virginia.

Swinney recently filled both posts from within the program, naming quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter offensive coordinator, while defensive analyst Wes Goodwin and safeties coach Mickey Conn were named co-defensive coordinators.

“I’m really, really excited about the people that we have in place,” Swinney said. “I’ve always taken a lot of pride in developing our players and developing our team, but I also take a lot of pride in developing our staff.”

Iowa State (7-5), which is playing in a school-record fifth-straight bowl game, was a preseason favorite in the Big 12 but lost five games by a combined 29 points and all four of its league losses came down to the final possession.

A Cheez-It Bowl victory would give the Cyclones at least eight wins for the fourth time in Coach Matt Campbell’s six seasons.

Campbell has visited Clemson and been the lead presenter at Clemson’s high school coaching clinic.

“You are always searching for people in our profession that are doing it the right way and they’re leading from the heart,” Campbell said of Swinney. “That was a huge eye-opening experience of, ‘Man, you can lead a football program the right way.’

“It’s an honor to play against them and compete against them. It means a ton for our program.”

Campbell’s Cyclones must face an elite Clemson defense without its primary offensive weapon. All-America running back Breece Hall announced on Dec. 18 that he’s skipping the bowl game and forgoing his final year of eligibility to enter the 2022 NFL Draft.

Hall led the nation in scoring with 138 points and touchdowns with 23.

That leads much of the Cyclones’ offensive burden to quarterback Brock Purdy, who led the Big 12 in both passing yards and total offense and ranked fourth nationally with a completion percentage of 73.1.

Clemson’s defense will present a stiff challenge. The Tigers rank second nationally in scoring defense at 15.0 points per game and rank among the top 10 in the country in 11 other defensive categories.

But the Tigers have struggled offensively this season following the loss of quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne to the NFL.

D.J. Uiagalelei struggled in his first season as a starting quarterback and inexperience plagued an offense that had only one senior starter, resulting in an offense that ranked 96th among FBS teams.

-Field Level Media

Texas Longhorns running back Bijan Robinson (5) gets tackled by Iowa State Cyclones defensive back Anthony Johnson Jr. (26) after gaining a first down during the second quarter at Jack Trice Stadium, Nov. 6, 2021, in Ames, Iowa.

Breece Hall, stout defense carry Iowa St. to rout of Texas

Breece Hall ran for 136 yards and two scores, and the Iowa State defense did the rest as the Cyclones rolled to a 30-7 win over Texas on Saturday in Big 12 Conference play in Ames, Iowa.

Hall picked up his two TDs and 98 of his yards in the third quarter when the Cyclones (6-3, 4-2 Big 12) rallied from a 7-3 halftime deficit and swamped Texas.

The Longhorns, who came in averaging 447 yards per game and 39.4 points per game, didn’t come close to matching those benchmarks, amassing just 207 total yards.

Texas (4-5, 2-4) only gained six yards, had just 14 offensive snaps and punted four times during the pivotal third quarter. Texas lost a fourth straight game for the first time since 2010.

Brock Purdy was 27-of-38 passing for 252 yards for Iowa State. Xavier Hutchinson caught eight passes for 96 yards and threw a touchdown pass while Andrew Mevis added three field goals, including a 51-yarder to cap the scoring.

Hudson Card passed for 101 yards and a touchdown for Texas after entering in relief of the ineffective Casey Thompson. Bijan Robinson had 90 yards rushing and caught eight passes for 36 yards but fumbled twice, the second coming early in the fourth quarter after which he left the game with an injury.

Robinson fumbled on his first carry of the game. Iowa State then moved 32 yards in seven plays to set the table for Mevis’ 24-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead at the 12:27 mark of the first quarter.

Xavier Worthy pushed Texas to a 7-3 lead via a 4-yard scoring pass on a jet sweep with 5:29 left in the second quarter. The TD came at the end of a 14-play, 78-yard drive.

Iowa State outgained the Longhorns 180-126 in the first half, limiting Texas to 44 passing yards. Robinson had 65 yards on 11 carries in the half, outdueling Hall’s 17 yards on seven totes.

The Cyclones retook the lead on Hall’s 47-yard touchdown run that culminated the opening possession of the third quarter. They added to their advantage on Hutchinson’s 49-yard TD pass to Tarique Milton after he caught a backward pass from Purdy.

Hall’s 2-yard scoring run expanded Iowa State’s lead to 24-7 with 4 minutes to play in the third quarter.

–Field Level Media

Oklahoma State senior running back Jaylen Warren runs the ball as Iowa State sophomore defensive back Isheem Young applies defense in the first quarter on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames.

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Iowa St. upends No. 8 Oklahoma St., 24-21

Brock Purdy threw for 307 yards and two touchdowns, and the defense came up with a huge fourth-down stop in the closing seconds as Iowa State upended No. 8 Oklahoma State 24-21 in Ames, Iowa, on Saturday.

Breece Hall scored the go-ahead, 4-yard touchdown run with 5:29 to play for the Cyclones (5-2, 3-1 Big 12).

Will McDonald, the Big 12’s second-leading sack specialist coming into the day, recorded back-to-back sacks on second and third down to shut down a late Oklahoma State drive.

But the Cowboys (6-1, 3-1) came up with a stop of their own to get the ball back with 3:18 to play, setting up one last chance.

On fourth-and-2 from the Iowa State 42, Brennan Presley caught a short pass, but was tackled by Kym-Mani King and Isheem Young short of the first down marker, clinching the win for Iowa State.

Xavier Hutchinson had 12 catches for 125 yards and two touchdowns for the Cyclones.

The fourth quarter was a back-and-forth affair. Spencer Sanders threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Tay Martin with 8:36 to play to give Oklahoma State a 21-17 lead, capping a 5-play, 58-yard drive.

Sanders finished 15 of 24 for 225 yards and three touchdowns.

The Cowboys got on the board first thanks to a short field, driving 48 yards in six plays to take a 7-0 lead on Sanders’ 5-yard touchdown pass to Presley with 5:55 to go in the first quarter.

Oklahoma State drove into Cyclones territory on its next drive with an opportunity to extend its lead, but Tanner Brown missed his 50-yard field goal attempt early in the second quarter.

Iowa State took advantage on its ensuing possession, driving 67 yards on 15 plays (eating up 9:35 of clock) to tie the game on Purdy’s 1-yard touchdown pass to Hutchinson.

Two possessions later, the Cowboys answered with a 42-yard touchdown bomb from Sanders to Presley, putting them back up 14-7 with 59 seconds to play in the half.

That was the score in the third quarter when Iowa State went on the move again, marching 87 yards in just five plays to tie the game 14-14 on Purdy’s second touchdown pass to Hutchinson, this one from 9 yards out.

Cyclones kicker Andrew Mevis broke a 14-14 tie with a 29-yard go-ahead field goal with 2:41 to play in the third quarter.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2021; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Iowa State Cyclones running back Breece Hall (28) carries the ball against the UNLV Rebels during the first quarter at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Breece Hall bids to get Iowa State back on track vs. Kansas

Standout running back Breece Hall nearly did it all for Iowa State during last week’s Big 12 opener at Baylor.

The Cyclones (2-2, 0-1 Big 12) are hopeful something that even slightly resembles an encore will help them get back on track Saturday when conference foe Kansas (1-3, 0-1) visits Ames, Iowa.

“When he’s at his best, boy, is it hard to find a better player in terms of the running back position in terms of what Breece Hall brings to a team,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said. “I just think for Breece, part of that was getting going. … I’m really proud of where Breece is right now. When Breece plays well, we seem to have great flow in our offense.”

Hall rushed 27 times for a career-best 190 yards and two touchdowns at Baylor while contributing five receptions for 51 yards and a score. The Bears thwarted the Cyclones’ final bid for a road victory, however, when they intercepted a two-point conversion attempt in the closing seconds to preserve a 31-29 win.

Iowa State has alternated wins and losses since the season began, but has found better consistency in its attack in recent weeks.

Quarterback Brock Purdy completed 23 of 33 passes for 263 yards and a touchdown at Baylor one week after leading the offense to a 48-3 rout of host UNLV.

“It’s more a sense of we’re a team that continually gets better throughout the season, and if you watch film, I think you can see that the last few years,” Cyclones tight end Chase Allen said. “So it kind of comes with the growing pains, you know. We’re set up to play our best football in October, November. So we’ve got to take steps in order to get there, and we’re on the right path.”

Kansas figures to be in for a defensive test against the Cyclones. The Jayhawks realize there’s only room for improvement on that side of the ball after surrendering 607 yards of total offense to Duke a week ago, faltering after forcing a pair of early turnovers.

The Blue Devils scored five touchdowns and a field goal on their six trips to the red zone and seized control of their eventual 52-33 win with 21 points in the third quarter.

Jayhawks coach Lance Leipold said the team’s pass rush is “not where I want it to be” at this juncture of the season.

“We’ve got to do a better job of getting to the QB, and then when we get there, making the play,” Leipold said.

Still, a potent offense helped keep the Jayhawks afloat until Duke’s big second half shifted the momentum. Kansas averaged 7.4 yards per play en route to 530 yards of offense. Quarterback Jason Bean accounted for 377 of those yards (323 passing, 54 rushing) while passing for two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Kansas leads the all-time series 50-44-6. The Jayhawks are searching for their first win at Jack Trice Stadium since taking a 35-33 thriller on Oct. 4, 2008.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2021; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Iowa State Cyclones running back Breece Hall (28) carries the ball against the UNLV Rebels during the first quarter at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Uneven No. 14 Iowa State preps for unbeaten Baylor

If Iowa State is to challenge for a Big 12 title, its top players, particularly on offense, must consistently play at a high level.

Especially on Saturday, when the visiting No. 14 Cyclones open Big 12 play against undefeated Baylor in Waco, Texas.

The start to this season has not been easy for Iowa State (2-1, 0-0 Big 12). The Cyclones struggled to a 16-10 opening victory over FCS foe Northern Iowa and were severely outplayed during a 27-17 home loss to then-No. 10 Iowa. Their offense failed to total more than 339 yards in either contest before somewhat breaking out for 493 during last weekend’s 48-3 victory at UNLV.

After throwing three interceptions without a touchdown and being sacked three times against UNI and Iowa, Iowa State star Brock Purdy recorded three scoring passes and was not picked off or sacked against the Rebels. Meanwhile, preseason Heisman Trophy contender Breece Hall ran for 100 yards with two touchdowns on 21 carries last weekend after rushing for 69 in each of the first two contests.

Hall has scored at least one rushing touchdown in 15 straight game to tie the Big 12 record set by Missouri’s Corby Jones (1997-98).

When the Cyclones’ top players perform well, success should follow. It’s apparently taken some time for that to happen in 2021, but an expected tougher test awaits Purdy, Hall and Co. in their conference opener.

“I certainly think we’re a lot closer to that today than where we were to start the season,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said about his best players playing to their expected caliber.

“(The team looks for) challenging times and great opportunities to continue to show that our ‘A’ players are willing to play ‘A’ football. We’ve got a huge road test (Saturday) to kind of see where we’re at and who we are.”

Iowa State has won three of the last four meetings with Baylor. The Cyclones needed to work for a 38-31 home victory over the two-win Bears in 2020, as Hall rushed for 133 yards on 31 carries and scored three total touchdowns but Purdy threw three interceptions along with three TDs. Purdy has completed 65.2 percent of his passes for 736 yards with six touchdowns and four interceptions while going 2-1 against Baylor.

Though the Bears (3-0, 1-0) have outscored their first three opponents 140-34 and beat league-foe Kansas by 38 last weekend, this will be their first true test of the 2021 campaign — a challenge that coach Dave Aranda and his Baylor squad hope they are prepared to meet.

“Seeing the team continue to believe, and connect and grow. It’s a good thing,” Aranda said.

“I look at the confidence and just the growth in our guys. … I think this game coming up is going to be a factor in how we play the game within the game. Alignment, assignment, technique.”

Baylor quarterback Gerry Bohanon is 51-for-70 for 664 yards with five touchdowns, without being intercepted or sacked. Meanwhile, receivers R.J. Sneed and Tyquan Thornton have combined for 27 catches, 440 yards and three touchdowns. Abram Smith and Trestan Ebner have totaled 683 rushing yards, with the former posting five touchdowns.

However, Iowa State’s defense, led by linebackers Jake Hummel and Mike Rose (51 combined tackles), has yielded 40 points and 578 total yards in 2021.

–Field Level Media

Iowa State senior quarterback Brock Purdy scans the field for an open receiver late in the second quarter against Iowa at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021.

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Brock Purdy, No. 14 Iowa St. try to bounce back vs. UNLV

Brock Purdy may own the most wins by a quarterback in Iowa State history, but a rivalry loss has brought him under heavy scrutiny.

Purdy will look to bounce back from a subpar performance when the No. 14 Cyclones (1-1) visit UNLV (0-2) on Saturday night.

Purdy has a 24-12 record as a starter but picked a bad time to have a clunker — the highly anticipated showdown with Iowa that marked the first time the schools had played while both were ranked in the Top 10.

Purdy threw three interceptions and was just 13-of-27 passing for 138 yards before being yanked in the 27-17 setback. He has yet to throw a touchdown this season.

Freshman Hunter Dekkers finished the game, completing 11 of 16 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown, but Iowa State coach Matt Campbell is sticking with Purdy, who with 9,319 career yards needs 181 to surpass Bret Meyer (9,499 from 2004-07) for most in school history.

“That’s gut-wrenching when it doesn’t go your way,” Campbell said at a press conference. “And some of the things that happen in the game really aren’t on you as the quarterback, but everybody’s perception is that it is.

“So the reality of it is, it’s tough to play that position. But man, he’s played it for four years. He knows how to handle tough times.”

Standout running back Breece Hall also made a huge gaffe, losing a fumble near his own end zone that Iowa’s Jack Campbell picked up and ran 6 yards for a score that gave the Hawkeyes a 21-10 lead in the third quarter.

“What a critical error in the game,” Campbell said of the fumble. “And when you’re an ‘A’ player, you need to be able to play ‘A’ football.”

Hall has 138 rushing yards in two games. He also has scored a rushing touchdown in each to raise his streak to 14 consecutive games with a rushing score, one shy of the Big 12 mark set by Missouri’s Corby Jones (1997-98).

Defensive end William McDonald IV is pacing the defense. He has 2.5 sacks this season and is ranked second in school history with 20.

UNLV is waiting to learn whether quarterback Doug Brumfield will be available. He departed after taking a hard hit in the third quarter of last Saturday’s 37-10 road loss against then-No. 23 Arizona State.

If not, Justin Rogers, who started the season-opening 35-33 double-overtime loss to Eastern Washington, will draw the start. He was pulled from that game in favor of Brumfield.

The Rebels have dropped eight straight games since winning their 2019 finale. Second-year coach Marcus Arroyo saw signs of progress against Arizona State before the game got away in the final quarter.

“We’ve (got) to continue to coach our tails off,” Arroyo told reporters. “Be very introspective in regards to how we can finish a game and put two halves together. We’ve got a sour taste in our mouth.”

Running back Charles Williams (212 yards in 2021) moved into third place on UNLV’s career rushing list with 3,152 yards, passing former NFL running back Mike Thomas (3,149).

Defensively, middle linebacker Austin Ajiake and outside linebacker Jacoby Windmon share the team lead of 19 tackles. Windmon has a team-best 1.5 sacks.

Iowa State leads the series 4-1, but UNLV prevailed in the most recent meeting, 34-31 in overtime in 2008 in Las Vegas.

–Field Level Media

Nov 27, 2020; Austin, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns defensive lineman Keondre Coburn (99) rushes Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Brock Purdy (15) in the second quarter at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

No. 15 Iowa State tops No. 20 Texas, takes control of Big 12

Breece Hall scored on a 3-yard touchdown run with 1:25 to play to lift No. 15 Iowa State to a 23-20 come-from-behind victory over No. 20 Texas on Friday in a key Big 12 Conference dustup in Austin, Texas.

Hall, the nation’s leading rusher entering the contest with an average of 148 yards per game, was held to 91 yards on 20 carries, the first time this season he had been held to less than 100 yards.

Texas had a final chance to get in position to attempt a tying field goal, moving to the Iowa State 36 before quarterback Sam Ehlinger took a sack with three seconds left. Cameron Dicker’s 58-yard attempt on the game’s final play sailed wide left, granting the Cyclones the win.

It’s the first time the Cyclones have defeated Oklahoma and Texas in the same season and all but guaranteed Iowa State a spot in the Big 12 Championship game on Dec. 19 in Arlington, Texas. Iowa State has not won a conference title since 1912 and has never played in a conference championship game.

Brock Purdy threw for 312 yards and a score for the Cyclones (7-2, 7-1 Big 12) with tight end Charlie Kolar hauling in six catches for 131 yards.

Ehlinger passed for 298 yards and a score and ran for 65 yards and another TD in his final home game. Brennan Eagles caught five passes for 142 yards to lead the Longhorns (5-3, 4-3).

Texas scored on all three of its first quarter possessions, as field goals from Dicker — from 21 and 42 yards, respectively — were sandwiched around a 17-yard TD run by Ehlinger. Iowa State countered with a 35-yard touchdown pass from Purdy to Sean Shaw.

Connor Assalley’s 26-yard field goal midway through the second quarter brought the Cyclones to within 13-10 but his chance to tie the game via a 41-yard attempt on the half’s final snap was short and right.

The Longhorns added to their lead on their first possession of the third quarter via a 7-yard scoring pass from Ehlinger to Jared Wiley.

Assalley booted a 29-yard field goal with 2:54 to play in the third quarter and another, from 38 yards away, on the second snap of the fourth quarter to cut Texas’ lead to 20-16.

–Field Level Media

Nov 7, 2020; Ames, Iowa, USA; Iowa State defensive back Greg Eisworth II (12) pushes Baylor safety Mike Harris (16) out of bounds during their football game at Jack Trice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Powers-USA TODAY Sports

No. 17 Iowa State rallies, then holds off Baylor

Breece Hall rushed for 133 yards and two touchdowns and caught a pass for another score, and Brock Purdy threw for three touchdowns as No. 17 Iowa State rallied from a nightmarish first half to defeat Baylor 38-31 on Saturday night in Ames, Iowa.

Trailing by 11 at halftime after struggling with inconsistency and three Purdy interceptions, Iowa State (5-2 overall, 5-1 Big 12) erupted for 28 straight points in the second half.

After falling behind 24-10 on a 36-yard field goal by John Mayers with 12:06 to go in the third quarter, the Cyclones started their comeback less than one minute later. Purdy found Charlie Kolar for a 22-yard touchdown pass, the school-record 51st of the junior’s career.

Hall scored on a 17-yard run on Iowa State’s next possession, and the point-after tied the game at 24 with 7:37 remaining in the third quarter.

The Cyclones kept clicking after that, punctuating their next two possessions with a 10-yard scoring pass from Purdy to Chase Allen and a 6-yard touchdown toss from Purdy to Hall.

Baylor (1-4, 1-4) drew to within the final margin with 8:43 to play when Trestan Ebner scored on a 58-yard catch and run from Charlie Brewer on a fourth-and-6 play. The Bears were driving for a potential tying touchdown, but Mike Rose intercepted Brewer in the end zone with 57 seconds to go.

Brewer was 22-for-33 passing for 295 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. He also led the Bears’ ground game with 29 yards. R.J. Sneed had six receptions for 93 yards and a score, and Drake Dabney also caught a touchdown pass.

Purdy finished 15-for-24 for 164 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. Hall had a career high 31 carries and reached 100 yards rushing for his six straight game, while Kolar was the team’s leading receiver with three catches for 45 yards.

Baylor established an early tone by capitalizing on three Iowa State turnovers in the first half, turning each one into a touchdown.

Kalon Barnes intercepted Purdy on the third play from scrimmage, setting up a 9-yard touchdown pass from Brewer to Sneed six plays later to open the scoring.

–Field Level Media

Dec 28, 2019; Orlando, Florida, USA; Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Re-al Mitchell (6) throws the ball against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the second half at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa State: No football fans as local COVID-19 cases soar

Iowa State reversed course on Wednesday, announcing the Cyclones will play their season opener without fans at Jack Trice Stadium as cases of COVID-19 soar in their community.

Ames, Iowa, where the Big 12 campus is located, was identified by The New York Times on Monday as the nation’s No. 1 hotspot for the coronavirus, with 8.2 new cases per every 1,000 residents. Story County, where Ames is located, has a 14-day positivity rate of 21.3 percent, with four out of every five positive cases among people ages 18-40, according to the report.

The Times report came the same day the school announced the stadium could have 25,000 fans for the Cyclones’ opener on Sept. 12 against Louisiana-Lafayette, with various protocols put in place.

“Over the weekend, [university president Wendy] Wintersteen gave our working group the approval to move forward with the plans that were jointly developed,” Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard said in a statement released by the school. “Our department announced those plans on Monday, which included allowing fans, who purchased season tickets, to attend the first game.

“President Wintersteen shared with me on Tuesday evening that, after weighing feedback she has received from the community, she has decided to reverse the decision. As a result, we will play the season opener without fans.”

Stadium capacity is about 60,000.

Dr. John Paschen, the chairman of the Story County Board of Health, on Monday labeled Iowa State’s first decision as “irresponsible.”

The athletic department released COVID-19 test results on Wednesday that showed eight athletes, out of 207 student-athletes tested Aug. 24-29, were positive for the virus. In 1,203 tests conducted between June 8 and Aug. 29, 49 student-athletes were shown to have the virus.

–Field Level Media