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Iowa State at Oklahoma State Recap: Out Gunned

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Iowa State started strong and wilted after a critical special teams error.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

A strong start couldn't overcome special team gaffes and poor official reviews as the Cyclones fell in Stillwater by a score of 37-20.  Sam Richardson, who had come in to the past two weeks with a chance to set numerous Iowa State quarterbacking records, stumbled to a 17 or 39 performance for 200 yards and two touchdowns.  The oft maligned running game managed 122 yards on 33 attempts, but when the chips were down the offense couldn't muster a drive and the defense began to wilt in a game that never felt as close in the second half as the score would indicate.

Iowa State came out with a game plan to ground the Oklahoma State offense and it looked like they might just do that for the better part of the first half.  Using a strong defensive performance that held the Cowboys to 56 yards on their first four drives, the Cyclones were able to surge open with a six point lead.  Prior to the game Iowa State was 7 of 8 in the red zone on the season and had scored a touchdown on all seven scoring plays, however, the inability to punch it in the end zone, coupled with a pair of 3rd down sacks, kept the Cowboys in the game long enough to eventually tie the game at 6 all with 43 seconds left in the first half.

Then in typical Iowa State fashion a simple pooch kick was mishandled by the return team and resulted in an Oklahoma State recovery deep in Iowa State territory.  Five plays later Jevohn Miller made the stop of the game to keep Desmond Roland out of the end zone as time expired and sent the teams to the locker room in a tie game.

Or so we thought.

Despite both line judges ruling Roland short, and inconclusive angles from the goal line cameras, Big XII replay officials overturned Miller's stop, ruled Roland in the end zone, and Oklahoma State carried a 13-6 lead in to the locker room at half time.

Tyreek Hill then returned the opening kick of the second half for a touchdown and in a matter of 50 game seconds the Cowboys had opened up a two possession lead, 20-6.  Iowa State punched back on the next drive with a 17 yard strike from Richardson to E.J. Bibbs but that would be the final scoring drive for the Cyclones until a garbage time touchdown by Bibbs with 50 seconds remaining.

Between the two Iowa State scoring drives the Cowboys racked up 194 yards and 17 points to drive the nail in to the coffin in a game that was decided by poor execution from the strongest unit in Iowa State's arsenal.

Game Observations

  • Bibbs was a bright spot for the offense with a six catch, 69 yard performance while also accounting for both of Iowa State's touchdowns.  36 of Bibbs' yards came on the final drive, but those plays showed what Bibbs is capable of when he's not consistently double and triple team.
  • No running back impressed this week but well timed calls opened up space for the backs to perform.  Aaron Wimberly had a long run of 16 yards, Devondrick Nealy had one of 15, and Tyler Brown had one of 16 on the final drive.
  • To help the short yardage running game Mark Mangino went under center in an I set with Martinez Syria serving as the full back.  Syria only had eight yards on the day, but this type of change showed the commitment to winning the battle at the line of scrimmage to keep the chains moving.
  • Leading receiver Allen Lazard was held to one catch for 18 yards, which also came on the final drive.
  • Richardson had an awful day all around.  His timing with receivers was off, he failed on the few attempts to throw the ball down field, and generally looked uncomfortable in the pocket.  For as good as Richardson looked early in the season he's looking equally as bad now.  Whether he's seeing ghosts on the field or not, Sam has failed to execute when it matters most two weeks in a row.  I can't say whether or not he's trending dangerously close to being replaced, but this team will not win another game unless the quarterback play improves.
  • The defense was stellar for most of the first half and the lion's share of the credit goes to the defensive line for consistently getting penetration and keeping Roland and Tyreek Hill in check.  Questionable pass interference calls aside, the defensive back field rallied in space and kept the big play from happening.  That was one of the best halves of defensive football Iowa State has played this year and no doubt there are more to come.
  • Credit to Oklahoma State for their aggressiveness.  The offense mixed patience with their ability to always test the Cyclones deep, and it eventually paid off late in the 3rd quarter.  Oklahoma State's defensive backs are rangy and play with a chip on their shoulder and very much with the line of thinking "that they can't call everything".  Early physical play with the Iowa State receivers got in their head later in the game and made a difference on the few attempts the receivers actually worked themselves open.
  • Teams will continue to press the Cyclones' receivers until the team can respond in kind.  Strong, athletic defenses will continue to win that battle unless a solution to creating explosive running plays is found.
  • Three of Iowa State's four losses have been against ranked teams, but at some point you quit ignoring the numbers and boil it down to one fact: Iowa State is 1-4 and has been rendered relatively non-competitive for stretches in each game.

Pollard's Comments

Fresh off Twitter, here's Tommy Birch with Pollard's comments about Big XII officiating.  Expect a reprimand, but one that is well earned.

And a bonus from Rhoads:

Next Up

Iowa State will host MAC opponent Toledo at 2:30 PM next week in the 102nd Homecoming in Ames.  The game can be seen on Cyclones.TV.