Memphis' Demeer Blankumsee (0) catches a pass for a touchdown in the opening drive during the game between the University of Memphis and Iowa State University in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium on Dec. 29, 2023.

Strong passing attack lifts Memphis over Iowa State in Liberty Bowl

Seth Henigan passed for four touchdowns and ran for another to lead Memphis to a 36-26 victory over Iowa State in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl on Friday in Memphis, Tenn.

Henigan completed 24 of 34 passes for 364 yards with no interceptions against an Iowa State defense that had 16 picks during the regular season. Blake Watson rushed for 107 yards on 15 carries and Roc Taylor had eight catches for 102 yards for Memphis (10-3).

Henigan hit Sutton Smith for a 48-yard touchdown to put Memphis up 36-13 midway through the third quarter. Rocco Becht answered with a 15-yard scoring strike to Easton Dean to bring the Cyclones within 36-20.

Becht hit Jaylin Noel with a 23-yard scoring pass with 9:55 left, but the two-point pass failed, leaving Memphis up by 10.

Becht, the Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year, completed 22 of 38 passes for 446 yards with three touchdowns for Iowa State (7-6). The Cyclones were held to 0 yards rushing on 20 attempts.

Henigan completed two long touchdown passes and ran for another score to put the Tigers up 19-0 after one quarter.

Memphis struck quickly when Henigan connected with Demeer Blankumsee on a 70-yard touchdown pass on the third play of the game. The PAT was missed.

The Tigers made it 13-0 on their second possession, converting a fourth-and-1 to set up Henigan’s 11-yard touchdown scramble on the following play.

On Memphis’ next possession, Henigan capped a four-play, 84-yard drive with a 51-yard scoring strike to Joe Scates.

The Cyclones got on the board early in the second quarter when Becht hit Jayden Higgins with a 29-yard scoring pass to make it 19-7.

Iowa State pulled within 19-10 when Becht connected again with Higgins for 53 yards to set up Chase Contreraz’s 22-yard field goal.

Contreraz added a 39-yard field goal with 35 seconds left in the half to make it 19-13. But the Tigers went 44 yards in four plays and Tanner Gillis hit a 49-yarder on the final play for a 22-13 halftime lead.

Watson’s 55-yard run to the Cyclones’ 5-yard line on Memphis’ first series of the second half set up Henigan’s short scoring pass to Anthony Landphere to put the Tigers in front 29-13.

–Field Level Media

Nov 25, 2023; Manhattan, Kansas, USA; Kansas State Wildcats quarterback Will Howard (18) takes the snap during the second quarter against the Iowa State Cyclones at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Abu Sama III powers Iowa State’s upset of No. 19 Kansas State

Abu Sama III rushed for 276 yards and three touchdowns as Iowa State defeated No. 19 Kansas State 42-35 in a high-scoring affair, despite a heavy snowstorm in Manhattan, Kan.

The Cyclones had five scoring plays of at least 60 yards, including four of at least 70. Three of those long plays were runs by Sama.

Rocco Becht threw for 230 yards and three touchdowns despite throwing just 12 passes for Iowa State (7-5, 6-3 Big 12).

Will Howard was 24-of-48 for 288 yards with a touchdown and an interception for Kansas State (8-4, 6-3 Big 12).

Iowa State scored the first points of the third quarter with its third 70-plus-yard scoring play. Becht hit Jaylin Noel on a slant and Noel raced 79 yards to put the Cyclones up 21-20.

Howard rushed in for a 5-yard touchdown to help K-State regain the lead. He then flipped a pass to a crossing Phillip Brooks for the 2-point conversion and a 28-21 lead.

But the Cyclones tied it again when Sama had his third long run of the game. He outran the secondary for a 60-yard touchdown run.

Treshaun Ward scored on a 2-yard run early in the fourth quarter. But the Cyclones weren’t done. Becht hit Jayden Higgins on a 33-yard scoring play to tie it again at 35-all.

Noel then caught a short screen pass and raced up the right sideline for an 82-yard touchdown to give Iowa State the lead.

K-State’s final drive started on its own 2-yard line but the Wildcats turned it over on downs at the ISU 18.

Iowa State jumped out quickly, scoring on Sama’s 71-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. It was the longest run from scrimmage this season for the Cyclones. At least for a little while.

Sama fumbled on the next drive and K-State’s Austin Moore recovered at the Iowa State 39. K-State turned it into a 23-yard Chris Tennant field goal. K-State then went 80 yards in 14 plays, but again had to settle for a 22-yard field goal by Tennant, cutting the ISU lead to 7-6.

But on the first play of the second quarter, Sama did it again. This time, he went 77 yards.

The Wildcats cut it to 14-13 with a 1-yard touchdown run by DJ Giddens. K-State grabbed the lead just before halftime. The Wildcats took over on the Iowa State 41 after a punt caromed off an Iowa State player. Howard found Ben Sinnott on a tight end screen and Sinnott scored from the 15 for a 20-14 halftime lead.

–Field Level Media

Nov 11, 2023; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns quarterback Quinn Ewers (3) warms up before competing against TCU Horned Frogs in an NCAA college football game, Saturday, November. 11, 2023, at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ricardo B. Brazziell-USA TODAY Sports

No. 7 Texas seeks stronger finish at Iowa State

No. 7 Texas will look to remain atop the Big 12 Conference standings and build on a four-game winning streak when it travels to play talented and dangerous Iowa State on Saturday night in Ames, Iowa.

This will be the Longhorns’ final road game as a member of the Big 12 as Texas (and Oklahoma) move to the Southeastern Conference in 2024. Prior to the season, the Longhorns’ stated goal was to win the league title on their way out, and a win over the Cyclones would get them closer to achieving that goal.

The Longhorns (9-1, 6-1 Big 12) are alone atop the league standings with two regular-season games to play. Texas’ 9-1 start is the best for the program since 2009 and the Longhorns stayed at No. 7 in the CFP rankings for the third straight week.

Texas is back on the road after surviving 29-26 at TCU on Nov. 11. The Longhorns rolled to a 26-6 halftime lead but had to produce a goal-line stand and then convert a final third-and-12 situation to run out the clock.

Quinn Ewers passed for 317 yards and a score and Jonathon Brooks tallied 178 yards from scrimmage (104 on the ground) and two scores before being forced from the game with a right knee injury early in the fourth quarter. The school announced Sunday that Brooks is for the season with an ACL injury.

In the past two games, Texas has been outscored 36-6 in the fourth quarter as Kansas State scored 16 in the final 15 minutes to force overtime and TCU put up 20 points in failing just short.

Texas coach Steve Sarkisian called the performance “out of character.”

“We have to do a better job of keeping our mental intensity, our focus, and continuing to play the brand and style of football that got us that lead,” Sarkisian said. “For a team that has been so good in the fourth quarter all year, I would say it is out of character and unacceptable.”

Iowa State heads home after a dominating 45-13 win at BYU on Nov. 11. Rocco Becht passed for 203 yards with two touchdowns to Jaylin Noel (98 yards receiving), and Abu Sama III rushed for 110 yards and two scores as the Cyclones became bowl eligible. Iowa State led 31-7 at halftime, amassed 443 yards of total offense and didn’t turn the ball over.

After a difficult 2-3 start that included a loss to Ohio, Iowa State is 4-1 with a close loss to Kansas as the only blemish. The Cyclones (6-4, 5-2) find themselves in a four-way tie for second place in the league and can take a big step toward playing in the Big 12 championship game with a victory over Texas.

“What a great challenge for our young team to step into an arena with this kind of football team,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said. “We’ll have to have a great team game plan in order to win the football game. Our focus has been that we want to play meaningful football in November.”

Iowa State has won three of the past four games with the Longhorns, who have not won in Ames since 2017.

–Field Level Media

Nov 11, 2023; Provo, Utah, USA; Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Jake Retzlaff (12) warms up before the game against the Iowa State Cyclones at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa State rolls to blowout win over BYU

Iowa State jumped out to a quick double-digit lead and dominated in a 45-13 win over BYU late Saturday night in Provo, Utah.

Rocco Becht passed for 203 yards with two touchdowns to Jaylin Noel (98 yards receiving), and Abu Sama III rushed for 110 yards and two scores as the Cyclones became bowl-eligible with their sixth victory. Eli Sanders (57 yards) and Cartevious Norton (42 yards) had rushing touchdowns.

Iowa State (6-4, 5-2 Big 12 Conference) capitalized on two BYU turnovers for a 10-0 lead 3 1/2 minutes in and never looked back after taking a 31-7 halftime lead. The Cyclones amassed 443 yards and didn’t turn the ball over while winning for the fourth time in five games.

Jake Retzlaff, starting for the second straight week for injured QB Kedon Slovis, completed 10 of 27 passes for 104 yards with two interceptions. BYU (5-5, 2-5) gained only 318 yards in a third straight blowout loss.

The game got off to a disastrous start for the Cougars, who are struggling in their first Big 12 season.

After BYU fumbled and recovered the opening kickoff, Retzlaff threw an interception, which led to a quick 4-yard touchdown pass from Becht to Noel. The Cougars coughed up the ensuing kickoff, leading to Chase Contreraz’s 31-yard field goal.

BYU responded with a 75-yard drive capped by Jojo Phillips’ 5-yard touchdown reception from Retzlaff.

The rest of the first half was as rough as the start for BYU.

The Cyclones struck again three times before halftime. Sanders scored on a 4-yard run, Norton capped an 80-yard drive with an 11-yard rushing touchdown, and Sama made several nifty cuts during a 13-yard touchdown rush.

BYU had only 6 yards passing and 97 yards of offense in the first half compared to ISU’s 235 yards.

The Cougars opened the second half with a successful trick play when receiver Parker Kingston tossed a 26-yard TD to Isaac Rex, who set a BYU record for career touchdowns by a tight end (23).

Iowa State quickly regained momentum when Becht connected with Noel on a 66-yard TD strike. Soon after, Sama broke loose for a 59-yard touchdown for the final score.

–Field Level Media

Kansas Jayhawks running back Devin Neal (4) runs for a touchdown against Iowa State during the first quarter at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023, in Ames, Iowa.

Kansas builds big lead, holds on at Iowa State

Jason Bean was 14 of 23 for 287 yards as No. 21 Kansas hung on to defeat Iowa State 28-21 Saturday night in Ames, Iowa. Bean found Lawrence Arnold for an 80-yard score midway through the fourth quarter to ice the victory.

The Jayhawks (7-2, 4-2 Big 12) moved into a five-way tie for second place in the Big 12.

Rocco Becht was 20-for-26 with a key interception for Iowa State (5-4, 4-2).

Devin Neal scored a 1-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the second half to give Kansas a 21-3 lead, capping an 11-play, 75-yard drive.

Eli Sanders finally scored the Cyclones’ first touchdown with 3:26 left in the third quarter. He ran around the right corner from 6 yards out. He then ran almost the identical play for a 2-point conversion, trimming the deficit to 21-11.

Iowa State forced Kansas to punt and then went 90 yards in 12 plays. Becht ran it in from the KU 2-yard line with 8:09 remaining.

But on the first play of the ensuing drive, Bean found Arnold behind the ISU secondary for an 80-yard touchdown, extending the lead to 28-18.

Chase Contreraz trimmed it to 28-21 with a 29-yard field goal with 4:53 left, but Kansas did not give up the ball again.

After forcing a three-and-out on Iowa State’s first possession, Kansas marched 87 yards on nine plays to take a 7-0 lead. Bean found Arnold for a first down on fourth-and-10 to keep the drive alive. Neal punched it in from the 6-yard line for the score.

In the second quarter, Ra’Mello Dotson picked off Becht at the 50 and raced untouched to the end zone. It was Dotson’s second pick-6 in as many games, and it gave Kansas a 14-0 lead.

Contreraz hit a 35-yard field goal for Iowa State with three seconds left in the half to prevent the Cyclones from going scoreless in the first half.

–Field Level Media

Oct 28, 2023; Waco, Texas, USA;  Iowa State Cyclones running back Eli Sanders (6) runs the ball as Baylor Bears safety Corey Gordon Jr. (24) gives chase during the first half at McLane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa State downs Baylor 30-18 for third straight win

Cartevious Norton rushed for two touchdowns as visiting Iowa State started quickly and recorded a 30-18 victory over Baylor on Saturday in Waco, Texas.

Iowa State (5-3, 4-1 Big 12) won its third straight since a 30-point loss to No. 6 Oklahoma on Sept. 30 and improved to 4-1 in the Big 12 for the third time in school history. The Cyclones also moved into a tie for the lead in the league after Oklahoma lost to Kansas.

Norton had a 1-yard TD run late in the second quarter as Iowa State scored the game’s first 17 points. Norton also had a 49-yard TD run on Iowa State’s opening drive of the second half.

Chase Contreraz kicked three field goals, hitting 42- and 45-yarders to help the Cyclones get a 27-6 lead. He also booted a 25-yard field goal in the fourth quarter after Baylor (3-5, 2-3) inched within 27-18 early in the fourth.

Iowa State quarterback Rocco Becht completed 19 of 31 passes for 238 yards, including an 18-yard TD to Jayden Higgins on the Cyclones’ opening drive. Becht also helped the Cyclones thrive on third downs as they were 9 of 15.

Jaylin Noel finished with eight receptions for 76 yards and Higgins had five catches for 74 yards. Running back Eli Sanders had 90 yards on 14 carries and Norton finished with 58 yards.

Baylor’s Blake Shapen was 24-for-41 for 239 yards and threw a 69-yard TD pass to Monaray Baldwin in the third quarter. Dawson Pendergrass scored on TD runs of 8 and 5 yards as Baylor scored twice on fourth downs.

After Baylor held Iowa State to a field goal with 8:23 remaining, the Bears reached the Iowa State 22 but could not convert a fourth-and-3.

Baylor got the ball back with 1:40 remaining but a holding penalty on offensive lineman Gavin Byers negated a 24-yard reception to Jonah Burton on fourth-and-16. Shapen threw an incomplete pass on the next play.

Baylor struggled on special teams and converting third downs. A 16-yard punt set up Iowa State’s first scoring drive. The Bears also missed a pair of two-point conversions, had an extra point blocked and went 4 of 14 on third downs.

–Field Level Media

Oct 14, 2023; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA;  Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Rocco Becht (3) carries the ball for a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bearcats in the first half at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa State trending upward ahead of visit to Baylor

Prior to its bye last weekend, Iowa State displayed a stifling defense and added two more interceptions to its total while climbing into a tie for second place in the Big 12 Conference.

The Cyclones hope to continue their effective defense and keep pace in the league race Saturday afternoon when they visit Baylor in Waco, Texas.

Iowa State (4-3, 3-1 Big 12) begins this week tied with Texas, Oklahoma State and Kansas State and one game behind unbeaten No. 6 Oklahoma.

Since a 30-point loss to those Sooners on Sept. 30, Iowa State has earned wins over TCU and Cincinnati with the help of six interceptions. Iowa State’s 12 picks are tied with Oklahoma for the most in the league, including a pair in a 30-10 win at Cincinnati on Oct. 14.

“We’re starting to mature,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said. “We’re starting to play games in the style that we need to play to win football games.”

Besides seeing a defense constantly getting in the passing lanes, Iowa State is starting to see continued development from Rocco Becht. Becht threw touchdowns to Benjamin Brahmer and Stevo Klotz and also ran for a score against the Bearcats.

Baylor (3-4, 2-2) bounced back from its 39-14 home loss to Texas Tech on Oct. 7 by holding on for a 32-29 win at Cincinnati last weekend.

Isaiah Hankins made four field goals — all from at least 43 yards — while Blake Shapen threw for 316 yards behind a retooled offensive line after being sacked six times against Texas Tech.

Baylor was outscored 15-3 in the fourth quarter and nearly blew a 29-14 lead before getting two defensive stops in the final 90 seconds. The Bears also allowed 288 yards on the ground and are allowing a league-worst 199.1 rushing yards per contest.

“The run game is kind of a gut punch. I feel that pretty strong right now,” Baylor coach Dave Aranda said. “For us to have success, for the rest of the time we’ve got this year, we’ve got to stop the run and do it at a better clip than any form or fashion today. That’s a challenge for us.”

–Field Level Media

Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Rocco Becht (3) celebrates a touchdown score in the second quarter during a college football game between the Iowa State Cyclones and the Cincinnati Bearcats Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, at Nippert Stadium win Cincinnati.

Rocco Becht leads Iowa State over Cincinnati

Rocco Becht went 15-of-25-passing for 241 yards and two touchdowns to lead Iowa State to a 30-10 win at Cincinnati in a Big 12 contest on Saturday.

Jayden Higgins caught six passes for 172 yards to flank Becht for Iowa State (4-3, 3-1).

Emory Jones went 14-of-26 passing for 96 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions, and rushed for 72 yards on 15 carries in defeat for Cincinnati (2-4, 0-3).

Jones was replaced in the fourth quarter in favor of backup Brady Lichtenberg.

Cincinnati has lost four straight and is still looking for its first win as a member of the Big 12.

Iowa State took a 3-0 lead with 5:31 remaining in the first quarter on a 30-yard field goal by Chase Contreraz, but Cincinnati answered by taking a 7-3 lead with 42 seconds to go in the first on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Jones to Chamon Metayer.

Iowa State responded by scoring two touchdowns in the second quarter, the first coming courtesy of a 2-yard touchdown run by Becht with 7:48 left in the second quarter.

Becht then hit Benjamin Brahmer for a 14-yard touchdown pass with 3:43 remaining until halftime to finish off a 5-play, 81-yard drive and give the Cyclones a 17-7 lead.

The teams then exchanged field goals, starting when Contreraz hit a 34-yard field goal with 10:45 left in the third quarter to give Iowa State a 20-7 lead.

Following a 36-yard field goal by Carter Brown that cut Iowa State’s lead to 20-10 with 4:03 to go in the third, Contreraz connected on a 30-yard field goal with 1:10 remaining in the third to make it 23-10 Cyclones.

Iowa State then took a 30-10 lead with 10:00 remaining in the game on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Becht to Stevo Klotz, which ended a 7-play, 69-yard drive.

–Field Level Media

Iowa State Cyclones' running back Eli Sanders (6) breaks a tackle from TCU Horned Frogs' linebacker Shad Banks jR.(0) and drives for a touchdown during the first half in the Jack Trice Legacy Game at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, in Ames, Iowa.

Iowa State pulls away in second half, gets by TCU

Rocco Becht passed for 138 yards and a touchdown and Eli Sanders and Abu Sama scored on the ground as Iowa State dominated the second half on the way to a 27-14 win over TCU on Saturday in Big 12 Conference action in Ames, Iowa.

The Cyclones (3-3, 2-1 Big 12) produced their most balanced game of the season, doing more than enough offensively and forcing four TCU turnovers. Sanders amassed 99 yards on 16 carries, leading an Iowa State rushing attack that finished with 215 yards.

Backup quarterback Josh Hoover led the Horned Frogs (3-3, 1-2) with 119 yards and a touchdown passing but also uncorked one of TCU’s four interceptions. Starting quarterback Chandler Morris was forced to exit the game just over four minutes into the third quarter with what appeared to be a knee injury.

Emani Bailey did his part to keep the Horned Frogs in the game, rushing for 152 yards on 21 carries.

The Cyclones jumped out in front with a 4-yard touchdown run by Sanders with 23 seconds to play in the opening quarter. TCU responded on its ensuing possession, driving 78 yards in 11 plays to a 6-yard TD pass from Morris to Savion Williams that tied the game at 7-7 at the 10:28 mark of the second quarter.

Iowa State’s Darien Porter blocked a TCU punt with 52 seconds to play in the second quarter, and it was recovered by Ben Nikkel and returned to the Horned Frogs 11. Chase Contreraz then booted a 26-yard field goal on the final play of the first half to give the Cyclones a 10-7 lead.

The second half belonged to Iowa State in a big way.

Sama burst up the middle for a 55-yard TD run with 11:30 to play in the third quarter. Becht then connected with Easton Dean for a 1-yard scoring pass with 3:27 to play in the quarter at the end of a 38-yard drive that began in TCU territory after a short punt.

Contreraz added a 21-yard field goal with 11:27 left in the game before Hoover hit Blake Nowell with a window-dressing 9-yard touchdown pass with 1:17 remaining to close the scoring.

–Field Level Media

Sep 30, 2023; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; TCU Horned Frogs head coach Sonny Dykes reacts to a call in the third quarter against the West Virginia Mountaineers  at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

TCU, Iowa State search for redemption in Big 12 battle

TCU will look to get back on track when it travels to Ames, Iowa, on Saturday to face Iowa State, which has suddenly started to experience a defensive lull.

The Horned Frogs (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) head to Iowa on the heels of a bitter 24-21 home loss to West Virginia last weekend. TCU, which had won three straight games after a season-opening loss to Colorado, had its 10-game winning streak in Big 12 regular-season play snapped.

Chandler Morris led the Horned Frogs with 298 passing yards and two touchdowns against the Mountaineers. He also had 51 yards and a score on the ground in the loss. TCU’s Griffin Kell had two-field goal attempts blocked in the final 4:47 of the game, including a 55-yarder with 32 seconds remaining.

“That’s twice this year we’ve had opportunities at the end of the game to put a drive together and kick a field goal or score a touchdown,” Horned Frogs coach Sonny Dykes said. “That’s two times we weren’t able to do it. That’s not what we’re accustomed to.”

TCU’s fourth-quarter push came after it gained just 1 yard of offense on 11 snaps in the third quarter. The Horned Frogs had a goal-line stand early in the fourth to keep the game tied.

The Cyclones (2-3, 1-1) return home looking for answers as well after a 50-20 loss at then-No. 14 Oklahoma last Saturday. Iowa State surrendered the game’s final 29 points and gave up 523 total yards, 366 of those passing, the most it has allowed through the air in a game since October 2021.

Rocco Becht hit on 15 of his 33 passes for 188 yards and two scores to lead the Cyclones but was also intercepted twice, including a 44-yard pick-six in the first quarter. Iowa State had no answer on offense in the second half, gaining just 82 yards after the break while losing for the third time in four games.

“There’s a lot of youth across the board on this team — and that’s not an excuse, it’s a reality,” Cyclones coach Matt Campbell said. “The fact of the matter is that we weren’t as good as we needed to be against Oklahoma, but there was some great growth.”

Saturday marks just the 15th all-time meeting between TCU and Iowa State, with the Horned Frogs holding a 9-5 series lead, including a 6-5 advantage since they began Big 12 play in 2012.

–Field Level Media