In what has lately become the rarest of occurrences, Iowa State players were actually dancing on the sidelines. There was energy and momentum in the air and the remaining faithful in Jack Trice Stadium were on their feet and making noise. After going down 14-0, the Cyclones had battled back to take a 24-14 lead and had just stopped Texas Tech on third down, forcing the Red Raiders to bring out the punting unit.
And then it all came unraveled...
Kliff Kingsbury dialed up a fake punt, which went for 44 yards and Tech scored on the next play to bring the margin to 24-20 (as Tech clanked the extra point attempt off the goal post), and just like that, you could feel the optimism and good vibes seeping out of the stadium.
Credit has to be given to this Iowa State team as they didn't entirely roll over though, battling back after another Tech score to take a 31-27 lead early in the 4th quarter, but after the Red Raiders found pay dirt with 4:07 left in the game, taking a 34-31 lead, it put Iowa State in a position they've been in quite often over the last two plus years; at home, possession, time on the clock and needing a score to tie or win.
- Kansas State and West Virginia in 2012
- Northern Iowa, Iowa, Texas and TCU in 2013
- Kansas State earlier this season and now Texas Tech
In each of these contests, Iowa State either held a 4th quarter lead or had a chance to tie or take the lead and failed in one way or another every single time. On Saturday evening, Iowa State was stopped on downs as Sam B. Richardson's 4th yard scramble came up well short.
Eight times in two plus years at home this has happened and eight times, the Cyclone faithful have gone home disappointed. We'll spare you the commentary at this point, but from a player level, there doesn't appear to be any singular entity to blame. Spotty defense, lack of execution on the offensive side of the ball and now you can add special teams miscues to the list. For whatever reason, Iowa State simply has not been able to tie all three facets of the game together when they've needed to the most.
After an embarrassing effort at Kansas, in which Paul Rhoads declared it arguably the worst of his tenure, Iowa State managed to fight and grind on Saturday and at times, looked like an inspired football team. With a roster littered with injuries, the defense made enough plays, forcing two crucial turnovers, while also coming up with two sacks and one big stop on 4th down.
Then again, this same unit allowed the Red Raiders to rack up 600 yards of total offense and were gashed on the ground yet again, giving up 272 yards in the rushing game.
Offensively, Iowa State did what they needed to, attacking an equally woeful Tech rushing defense by piling up 265 yards of their own on the ground. Aaron Wimberly cracked the century mark by going for 102 yards on 19 carries and DeVondrick Nealy nearly joined him, rushing for 87 yards on only 7 carries.
Richardson threw for 304 yards on 24-38 passing while also tossing two touchdown passes and playing turnover-free ball. He also churned out 53 yards on the ground.
Eight Cyclones caught passes on the day and E.J. Bibbs creeped closer to matching Iowa State's single-season touchdown reception mark, catching his 8th scoring grab of the year in the first quarter. Todd Blythe ('04 and '05) and Quenton Bundrage ('13) sit atop Iowa State's single season list.
569 yards of total offense looks nice, but once again, Iowa State couldn't gain the yards and put the ball in the end zone when they needed to.
After starting the year a perfect 8-8, Cole Netten has now missed three of his last four field goal attempts, including a crucial 42-yard miss with 5:40 left in the game that would have put Iowa State up 7. On the post-game show, Ben Bruns noted that on both of Netten's misses, there appeared to be issues with the hold, but the result is the only thing that matters.
With the loss, Iowa State fell to 0-7 in conference play and 2-8 overall. The Cyclones will host West Virginia on Saturday, November 29th in what will be the final home game of the season. The game kicks off at 11 AM CST and can be seen on Fox Sports 1.
For game highlights and stats, Cyclones.com has you covered here.