No. 8 Oklahoma State is undefeated and has passed every test to date. But the Cowboys nevertheless are seven-point underdogs heading into Saturday afternoon’s game at Iowa State.
The spread might be more of an indictment on the style of football the Cowboys (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) have played more than anything else. Four of their six wins have been decided by eight or points or less, including last week’s 32-24 victory at Texas.
Still, the Cyclones (4-2, 2-1), fresh off a 33-20 win at Kansas State, are starting to round into the form that caused AP voters to place them No. 7 in the preseason.
“This will be a big challenge for us,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. “Statistically, arguably, whatever comment you want to make, (this is) the best defense we have played or could potentially play based on what people say. They’ve been good for a number of years; they’re starting to come around, in my opinion.”
Iowa State is giving up league lows in points per game (16.3) and yards per game (251.3). Defensive end Will McDonald has forced three fumbles and recorded 5 1/2 sacks. Fellow defensive end Eyioma Uwazurike has four sacks, and linebacker Mike Rose is the top tackler on the team, averaging 7.2 per game.
And after a slow start to the season, running back Breece Hall has sprung to life with four straight 100-yard performances, including last week’s season-high 197 yards and two touchdowns.
“No. 28 (Hall) is very patient and runs a lot like Thurman Thomas used to run,” Gundy said. “He’ll wait and then hit a seam. He’s a very patient runner and productive at what he gets accomplished.”
The Cowboys bring their own offensive stars to the matchup in Ames, Iowa, with Jaylen Warren at running back (705 yards, six touchdowns) and Tay Martin at wide receiver (27 catches for 365 yards in four games), though as usual, the Cowboys will need quarterback Spencer Sanders to perform, too.
On defense, Cowboys linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez leads the Big 12 with 10 tackles per game and has forced a pair of fumbles. Oklahoma State is the second-stingiest defense in the Big 12, surrendering 307.2 yards per game.
“Very talented in the skill positions, very talented on the defensive side of the football,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said. “(They) have really become one of the standards on the defensive side of the football in our conference, and I think for years have been the standard on offense. (It’s a) really well-coached football team that we have a lot of respect for.”
–Field Level Media
Breece Hall had a rushing touchdown in his 18th straight game, leading the Iowa State Cyclones to a 33-20 victory over Kansas State Saturday night in Manhattan, Kan. Hall’s mark is a Big 12 record and the fifth longest streak in FBS since 1996. Hall finished with 197 yards rushing with two touchdowns.
Brock Purdy was 22-of-25 for 208 yards and one touchdown.
The victory snapped a seven-game losing streak in Manhattan for the Cyclones (4-2, 2-1 Big 12). The two teams had split the last four meetings, with each team winning two home games. Prior to that, K-State had won nine straight games in the series and had won 15 of the last 16 games in Manhattan.
Skylar Thompson was 15-of-23 for 206 yards. He had two touchdowns and one interception for the Wildcats (3-3, 0-3 Big 12)
The game started perfectly for the Cyclones. Hall raced almost untouched for a 75-yard touchdown on the game’s first play from scrimmage. Hall found a hole in the right side of the line and was off.
Greg Eisworth intercepted Thompson giving the ball back to Iowa State. Andrew Mevis hit a 44-yard field goal to extend the lead to 10-0.
K-State converted a second-and-23 for a first down on its next possession. Thompson found Phillip Brooks for a 40-yard touchdown pass to cut the deficit to 10-7.
After K-State missed a chance to tie the score on a 33-yard field goal by Taiten Winkel, Iowa State responded with a 13-play, 80-yard drive. Hall’s 1-yard run capped the drive. Mevis’ 41-yard field goal as time expired gave the Cyclones a 20-7 halftime lead.
Iowa State started the second half with an 18-play, 93-yard drive that took more than 10 minutes off the clock. Purdy hit Sean Shaw in the front corner of the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown to close the drive.
Thompson ran it in from 1-yard out early in the fourth quarter, but K-State missed the extra point. Mevis then hit another 41-yard field goal for Iowa State.
Thompson hit Malik Knowles with a 9-yard touchdown with 5:05 left in the fourth quarter.
–Field Level Media
Iowa State and Kansas State will renew their “Farmageddon” rivalry Saturday in Manhattan, Kan., with both sides feeling refreshed following a Saturday without a game.
The Cyclones (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) will take on a Kansas State squad that has a renewed optimism after starting quarterback Skylar Thompson surprised everyone by starting the Wildcats’ game against Oklahoma Oct. 2.
K-State coach Chris Klieman said Thompson didn’t show much rust in the Oklahoma game, after missing most of the last three games with a right knee injury, and he used the bye week for some fine-tuning.
“We worked some of those guys who were nicked up, like Skylar, to get some of their timing back,” Klieman said Monday. “We worked some of our younger players, pushing those guys along. We’re going to need some guys who are freshmen or redshirt freshmen that haven’t played yet.
“The guys who have played a bunch of snaps have to get their minds and their bodies fresh too. We gave them a little bit of time off. Overall, our guys are going to come back pretty fresh.”
Klieman had said all week leading up to the Oklahoma game that it was unlikely that Thompson would see action against the Sooners, even though his recovery was progressing well. But as the starting offense trotted onto the field at the beginning of the game, Thompson went with his teammates.
All Thompson did was complete 29 of 41 passes for 320 yards and three touchdowns in a 37-31 loss to the Sooners.
Thompson’s biggest weapon likely will continue to be running back Deuce Vaughn. After being stymied the previous week against Oklahoma State, Vaughn was the team’s leading rusher and receiver, both in receptions and yards, against OU.
Through five games, he’s averaging just under 90 yards rushing per game. He’s first in receptions and second in yards per game receiving.
The Wildcats (3-2, 0-2) should get tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe back. Imatorbhebhe has only four catches this season, but his 68-yard touchdown reception against Nevada was K-State’s longest play of the season.
Iowa State coach Matt Campbell took a slightly different approach to the bye week, though rest was a big part.
“I don’t really think (we’ll see) much different,” he said. “I think our goal going into the bye week was to continue to do what we’ve done during the first five weeks. That’s to just get better each day. I thought we had some really good practices throughout the week.”
The Cyclones’ offense revolves around quarterback Brock Purdy. He’s completing better than 70 percent of his passes for 226.6 yards per game. His favorite receiver, in catches and yards, is Xavier Hutchinson. Running back Breece Hall leads the Cyclones with 110.2 rushing yards per game.
The two teams have split the last four meetings, with each team winning two home games. Prior to that, K-State had won 10 straight games in the series. The Wildcats have won 15 of the last 16 games in Manhattan. That leaves the all-time series at 51-49-4 in favor of Iowa State.
— Field Level Media
Gerry Bohanon passed for 164 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a third score, and Trestan Ebner scored on a 98-yard kickoff return as Baylor did just enough to beat visiting 14th-ranked Iowa State 31-29 on Saturday afternoon in Waco, Texas in both teams’ Big 12 Conference opener.
It was Baylor’s first win over a ranked team since 2015 and first at home since 2014.
Bohanon ran for an 8-yard TD and his scoring tosses were a 21-yarder to Tyquan Thornton and a 33-yard strike to tight end Ben Sims, both in the second quarter. Bohanon ended up hitting on 14 of his 19 throws for the surprising Bears (4-0, 1-0 Big 12).
Breece Hall racked up 180 yards and two touchdowns, both 2-yard runs, on 27 carries for Iowa State (2-2, 0-1), in the process becoming the Cyclones’ leader in career TDs with 39.
Hall also caught five passed for 51 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown pass from Brock Purdy with 24 seconds to play to set up a potential tying 2-point pass play. The conversion broke down from the start, with Purdy dropping the snap, and his pass was intercepted in the end zone by Baylor’s JT Woods.
Purdy finished 22 of 33 for 263 yards and a touchdown.
Iowa State came into the game with the No. 1 defense in FBS, allowing just 194 yards per game through its first three outings but surrendered 284 yards on Saturday, including 212 yards in the first half alone.
Iowa State also got three field goals from Andrew Mevis, hitting from 40 and 38 yards in the second quarter and from 39 to cap the Cyclones’ first possession of the third quarter. Mevis also missed from 47 yards in the second quarter, huge in a game that came down to two points.
Ebner raced to a 98-yard kickoff return TD after a Mevis FG in the third quarter to put the Bears in front at 28-16.
Isaiah Hankins’ 34-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter ended up producing the winning points for the Bears.
–Field Level Media
Brock Purdy passed for 288 yards to set the school record for career passing yards as No. 14 Iowa State rolled to a 48-3 victory over UNLV in a nonconference game on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Purdy completed 21 of 24 passes for three touchdowns while increasing his yardage total to 9,607. He passed Bret Meyer, who had 9,499 from 2004-07.
Breece Hall rushed for 100 yards and two scores on 21 carries for the Cyclones (2-1). He scored at least one rushing touchdown for the 15th straight game to tie the Big 12 record held by Missouri’s Corby Jones (1997-98).
Xavier Hutchinson caught 10 passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns, and Charlie Kolar also had a scoring reception for Iowa State.
Daniel Gutierrez kicked a 30-yard field goal for UNLV (0-3), which has lost nine straight games since winning its 2019 finale against Nevada.
Rebels quarterback Doug Brumfield missed the game, stemming from a hard hit he took against Arizona State one week ago. Cameron Friel completed 8 of 13 passes for 67 yards and one interception, and Tate Martell was 2-of-6 passing for 27 yards.
Martell, who formerly played for Ohio State and Miami, made his UNLV debut.
Charles Williams rushed for 42 yards on 19 carries for the Rebels.
Iowa State outgained the Rebels 493 to 130 and had a 27-7 edge in first downs.
Hall scored on 1-yard runs with 8:04 left in the first quarter and on the first play of the second quarter to give Iowa State a 14-0 lead. He nearly had a third, but he was ruled inches short on a fourth-down leap with 8:57 left in the half.
Hutchinson caught a 20-yard scoring pass from Purdy with 2:15 remaining in the half, and Andrew Mevis added a 40-yard field goal with three seconds left to give the Cyclones a 24-0 lead.
Iowa State increased its lead to 31 when Purdy connected with a wide-open Kolar for a 33-yard score with 11:03 left in the third quarter.
Gutierrez’s field goal with 3:39 left in the third got the Rebels on the board, but Purdy tossed a 17-yard touchdown pass to Hutchinson to make it 38-3 with 1:51 left.
Mevis booted a 54-yard field goal with 8:23 to play, and Deon Silas drove in from the 1 with 5:07 remaining.
–Field Level Media
In-state rivals Iowa and Iowa State have never played when both programs are ranked.
That will change Saturday when No. 9 Iowa State hosts No. 10 Iowa in a nonconference battle at Ames, Iowa.
The two teams didn’t meet last season due to the coronavirus pandemic and this season’s confrontation has prompted ESPN to conduct its preseason show on the stadium grounds.
But the nastiness in the rivalry hasn’t softened and will be extra intense with both teams eyeing strong campaigns.
The Cyclones have dropped their past five meetings with the Hawkeyes since last winning in 2014, and Iowa running back Tyler Goodson was quick to remind everyone of that fact.
“This is like their Super Bowl,” Goodson said of Iowa State. “They haven’t beat us in (several) years. I think them being at their home place knowing ‘College GameDay’ is going to be there is a good distraction for them and allows us just to focus on us.”
The Hawkeyes hold a 45-22 series lead, but every contest holds the attention of every resident in the state.
“It means something and there’s always a higher level of energy, especially a game like this,” said Cyclones coach Matt Campbell, who is 0-4 in the series since becoming coach prior to the 2016 season.
“It’s an incredible rivalry. It’s special for this state. It’s special for these two universities.”
Iowa opened its season with a 34-6 trouncing of then-No. 17 Indiana, while Iowa State struggled to notch a 16-10 win over FCS Northern Iowa.
Cyclones star running back Breece Hall scored a rushing touchdown for the 13th straight game, two shy of the Big 12 record held by Missouri’s Corby Jones in 1997-98.
Hall is also aware the victory wasn’t the type that would frighten the Hawkeyes.
“It wasn’t too pretty, but we’re still happy we got the ‘W,’” Hall said. “We didn’t play perfect. The defense did its job. The offense didn’t do what they’re supposed to do. We just have to get back to the drawing board and come back and practice and get better.”
Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy completed 21 of 26 passes for 199 yards to improve to 24-11 as a starter. The wins are the most in Cyclones’ history by a quarterback.
Purdy’s career passing yardage total sits at 9,181 as he closes in on the school record held by Bret Meyer (9,499 from 2004-07).
Strong-side linebacker Mike Rose accumulated 11 tackles against Northern Iowa.
Cornerback Riley Moss was the star attraction in Iowa’s win over the Hoosiers as he returned two interceptions for touchdowns and helped hold Indiana to 233 yards.
The returns of 30 and 55 yards give Moss eight career interceptions — three for touchdowns.
Quarterback Spencer Petras completed 13 of 27 passes for 145 yards. He also rushed for a score.
Goodson rushed for 99 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.
Goodson’s comments certainly spiced up the game-week chatter, but Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz never finds it easy to make the two-hour bus ride from Iowa City to Ames.
“We have to go over there and play, and it’s always tough,” Ferentz said. “Might as well get used to it, that’s how it is in our (Big Ten) conference. We play a lot of tough road games. Just based on recent history, it’s probably going to be a really close game.”
–Field Level Media
Expectations may have been higher once upon a time for No. 7 Iowa State, but it’s hard to convince its rabid fan base otherwise at this point.
The defending Big 12 Conference regular season champs return virtually every player of note ahead of Saturday’s season opener with FCS opponent Northern Iowa in Ames and expect to sell up to 49,000 season tickets — a school record.
“We’ve earned the expectations people have for us,” said Cyclones running back Breece Hall to the Des Moines Register. “We know how good we can be.”
The job coach Matt Campbell has done is nothing short of spectacular. Iowa State has jumped multiple levels in his five years, going from occasionally competitive to good to suddenly a contender to play for a national title.
Campbell has won three Big 12 Coach of the Year awards in the last four years. The Cyclones’ 32 wins over the past four seasons is the most in program history. And with 19 starters returning, Iowa State has the experience to match its burgeoning skill.
What’s more, the players are comfortable with wearing a target that most Cyclone teams have shot at in vain.
“This is where we’ve always wanted to be with our program,” said quarterback Brock Purdy. “This is what we’ve envisioned, so it’s a reality for us now. We know that.”
Hall rushed for 1,572 yards and 21 touchdowns last year, while Purdy completed 66.6 percent of his passes for 2,750 yards with 19 scores and nine interceptions. The defense is led by middle linebacker Mike Rose, who notched 96 tackles, including 10 1/2 for losses, and intercepted five passes.
In going 9-3 last year and beating Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl, Iowa State finished one of its best seasons with a quality win over a proven brand name. And even its one so-called bad loss in the first game turned out to be not so bad when Louisiana spent most of the year in the Top 25.
That defeat might be why the Cyclones pledge not to overlook Northern Iowa. Another reason might be the last time the teams played. It took Iowa State three overtimes to hold off the Panthers 29-26 just two years ago.
UNI went 3-4 in the spring, when the Missouri Valley Football Conference opted to play its schedule due to COVID-19, and failed to qualify for the 16-team FCS playoff field. It expects to do better than its predicted finish of fifth place in the MVFC because it returns all 22 starters.
“If we can win our league, which I know we can, we can win a national championship,” wide receiver Logan Wolf said to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier.
The Panthers’ top returnee might be defensive tackle Jared Brinkman, an All-America pick on the FCS level who was his conference’s Defensive Player of the Year. Offensive tackle Trevor Penning, who’s 6-7 and 335 pounds, is considered an NFL prospect.
Will McElvain has started 21 games for UNI and tossed 20 touchdown passes as a freshman, but coach Mark Farley brought in Michigan State transfer Theo Day to compete for the starting job. It’s not known who will take the first snap on Saturday.
–Field Level Media