2019 Game VII: #23 Iowa State (5-2, 3-1) vs. Oklahoma State University (4-3, 1-3)
Date: Saturday, October 26, 2019
Time: 2:30 P.M. CST
Location: MidAmerican Energy Field at Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, IA
Line: ISU -10.5
Radio: Cyclone Radio Network
SB Nation Website – “Cowboys Ride for Free”
What a remarkable stretch that this Iowa State football team is on right now. Three straight wins, the offense clicking on all cylinders, and ISU jumps back into the top-25.
As we Cyclone fans know all too well, nail-biters and half heart-attacks are to be expected, but these last few games it has been nice to sit back and RELAX for once. I could bore you with all the statistics, but what matters is the scoreboard, and in the last three contests it has been ISU 121, Opponents 62.
TWENTY-TWO different players recorded a tackle last week versus Texas Tech, as we saw substitutions all over the field and fresh legs galore. It is evident that the middle of this roster is talented and our depth will reap benefits as the season wears on.
The offensive line has improved to a point where we can feel confident running the ball, and Brock Purdy is having a truly magical year, proclaiming his right to be named one of the best quarterbacks in the nation.
Now let this stat sink in for a moment.
The 4 teams in CFB in the top 10 nationally of yards per play and top 15 in yards per play allowed: Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Iowa State. Over half way through the season, this is not a blip.— Brent Blum (@brentblum) October 21, 2019
When we last left off….
Iowa State came out on fire, scoring 20 points right off the bat, as Brock Purdy put up over 300 yards in the first half. Texas Tech mounted a comeback, but it was unflattering, as the Red Raiders ran more screen passes than drunk college kids on Ames Mug Night.
ISU was uber-efficient, gaining 10 yards per play, and holding Tech to only 4.7. The Cyclones lost the turnover battle, lost out on a few bad calls, missed three kicks, AND STILL WON. In years past that adversity would have waned large on the psyche of the team, but their mental toughness is a sight for sore eyes.
The Cyclones held on for a 34-24 win, marking back-to-back road victories, as ISU has now gone 8-5 in road conference games over the last 13.
Oh, and I almost forgot. Freshman Breece Hall went off for 256 all-purpose yards as he was named Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Week for the second week in a row. We now have a running game!!!
Oklahoma State Tidbits
Lots of uncertainty heading into the 2019 season for this Oklahoma State program. They were reeling after a 7-6 finish a year ago, and many Cowboy fans are wondering if the days of Mike Gundy’s program competing for a Big 12 crown are over.
Okie State is just 11-9 over their last 20 contests, after going 30-9 previously. Gundy has taken full blame for the recent mediocrity, bringing in a new defensive coordinator in 2018, OC in 2019, and recently hiring away K-State’s offensive line coach. But nothing has changed.
While the Cowboys ran up the score in non-conference games and jumped into the top-25, they have dropped 3 of their last 4, and are sitting in the bottom half of the Big 12.
Gundy is even losing some sleep, proclaiming his disdain with the media this week in his press conference. “It’s not like I don’t get frustrated either. I go home and take double Ambien, it didn’t work and I came to work at 3:45 Sunday morning,” said the 15-yr coach. “It’s not like I don’t understand people’s frustrations. But we live in a society today where people want to Bitch and complain about everything instead of putting their pants on and go fix it. We’re going to fix it.”
They have not been able to do the little things well – as OSU is last in Big 12 in turnover margin, have too many penalties, and the defense can’t force turnovers. In year’s past they could mask those liabilities with an electric offense, but quarterback Spencer Sanders has been giving the ball away, accounting for 14 of the teams 16 turnovers. They may have the nation’s best running back in Chuba Hubbard, but it takes more than a good running game to win games.
ISU is playing the Cowboys at the right time.
Okie State leads the all-time series 31-19-3, with ISU winning last year’s affair down in Stillwater. It was the coming-out party for Brock Purdy, and #15 has never looked back.
Recent matchups have seen offenses dominate, as both teams have combined for an average of 79 points over the last four years.
Iowa State Offense
Brock Purdy continues his masterful season, as the Cyclones are 10th in the country in passing yards per game. In the offseason, the question mark was ‘Who would replace Hakeem Butler’s production?’ So far we have seen more weapons than a Navy fleet, with Tarique Milton (downfield threat), Deshaunte Jones (underneath), Charlie Kolar (third down/red zone), LaMichael Pettway (third down/possession), and Sean Shaw and Joe Scates (jump balls). It has made Purdy a better passer, as he can now scan the field and find a number of options. That recipe for success has been the calling card, and is the true identity for the 2019 offense.
First Key to Victory – KEEP THE FOOT ON THE GAS PEDAL
This has not been a problem, as ISU jumped out to leads against TCU and Tech in recent weeks, but this OSU offense has been the kryptonite to Matt Campbell’s defense since day one. In two of the previous three matchups, the Cyclones had late leads, only to watch the Cowboys come back and win. Iowa State has done a fine job of not getting too conservative with their play calls, and it will be important for them to continue to push for more yards, no matter the score.
I loved seeing the THREE tight ends on the field against Tech, as ISU has used those blockers in a bevy of ways. All three can catch it downfield, but it adds a different dimension to the running game, as ISU has improved tremendously in that department.
Look for another big day out of Breece Hall, as he is the leading man moving forward. Only one other running back got a carry against Tech, as #28 has averaged 158 yards and 7.0 YPC in the last two games. The Cowboy defense gave up some big plays last week to Baylor, and are just as bad as both WVU and Texas Tech at stopping the run.
Look for another hey-day for Purdy, as his wide receivers will run free like a drunk streaker from Curtiss to Beardshear. The Cowboys have the WORST passing defensive efficiency in the Big 12, giving up 260 yards per game, 8.2 yards per attempt, and 15 touchdowns.
Oklahoma State Defense
Not many positives to find here, as this defensive unit is young and inexperienced. Leading up to the Baylor game, Coordinator Jim Knowles had dialed the blitzes back, but decided to bring pressure against the Bears. It backfired, as they gave up plays of 63, 78, 64, 44, and 73. Some were big runs, but others were simple crossing patterns where receivers broke tackles and stretched the open field.
The problems start with the defensive line, as Okie State had to replace all four starters from a year ago. Thus far, they have been underwhelming, unable to get to the quarterback, and are only average at stopping the run.
The linebackers are led by Amen Ogbongbemiga, who is top-10 in the Conference in tackles and sacks this season. His counterpart in the 4-2-5 scheme is Malcolm Rodriguez, a converted safety who leads the team in tackles.
The secondary has two veteran cornerbacks in Rodarius Williams and A.J. Green, as both have started every game for the last 2.5 seasons. A.J. Green’s name might be one Cyclone fans remember, as he picked off (er, caught the ball simultaneously with Marchie Murdock) two years ago, sealing the victory for the Cowboys. Green was voted Preseason All-Big 12 and is also a semi-finalist for the Thorpe Award.
All three safeties are sophomores and don’t have much experience. In conclusion, this defense is susceptible to the big play, has been unable to force turnovers (7 on the year), and misses a lot of tackles.
The Verdict – ISU by A Country Mile
Was there ever an easier decision? Look for the Clones to put up 500+ yards and 40+ on the scoreboard.
Iowa State Defense
This unit has continued to excel, and not missed a beat with multiple substitutions coming in to spell the starters. O’Rien Vance practiced this week and is probable to play, but in his absence last week Marcel Spears, Jr. picked up the SLACK. Spears was all over the field running sideline to sideline, shutting down the Tech screen plays, and ended the day with 12 stops.
Second Key to Victory –
Stop, no Slow Down, Try to Slow Down the Run
There is no one quite like Oklahoma State’s Chuba Hubbard. The man is just as strong on his 30th carry as he is on his 1st, and can run through you or by you. It is important for the second level to wrap up, and for all 11 players to continue to help gang tackle. Spears will be busy, as well as all linebackers that see the field against this potent rushing attack. If Vance doesn’t dress look for Jake Hummel and Bobby McMillen III to share snaps.
The defensive line did get exposed with Off-Tackle plays last week, as the ends got sucked in and it allowed for positive gains. Look for defensive coordinator Jon Heacock to rectify that. I think this matchup will be won by the interior defensive line, as we could see a 4-man front for the first time (in a long while).
We saw quite a few faces in the secondary last Saturday, but none was more impressive than cornerback Tayvonn Kyle, who supplanted Datrone Young admirably on the outside. I expect Anthony Johnson, Jr. to be matched up against do-it-all Tylan Wallace, and the safeties need to keep their head on a swivel for downfield throws. It was nice to see safety Greg Eisworth back in action last week, but I’m giddy at the fact we can save his reps (for OU and Texas) by spelling him with our backups.
Another key factor is containing running quarterback Spencer Sanders, who is dangerous outside the pocket. I expect Rose and Vance to be the SPY, but that can only be helped with the blitzes coming up the middle from our second (and third) levels.
Oklahoma State Offense
This Cyclone defense has seen similar offenses this season, but they have yet to play against anyone as good as Chuba Hubbard. This track star can do it all, leading the NATION in multiple rushing categories, including yards, yards per game, rushing touchdowns, and yards per carry. In fact, he outpaces the competition by such a wide margin, that the spread between Hubbard and the 2nd leading rusher in FBS is bigger than the spread between 2nd and 28th! Hubbard leads the country in yards after contact, can catch the ball out of the backfield, and has sprinter speed to the edge.
His offensive line has been up and down this year, and recently been hit by the injury bug. Both tackles sat out the Texas Tech game, but Teven Jenkins is back. He anchors the left side with guard Marcus Keyes, who have both combined for 66 career starts.
The Cowboys run multiple sets, formations, packages, you name it. You will definitely see some weird ones on Saturday, as they like to bring their tight ends (called the Cowboy Back, how original huh?) into the backfield for a pseudo wishbone package.
Leading the way at receiver is All-American Tylan Wallace, who at 6-feet tall, is a major downfield threat. Wallace leads the nation in receiving yards since the beginning of 2018 with 2,263, and can run any route on the route tree. He averages 17 yards per catch, and can not only get the jump ball, but is powerful at breaking tackles in space.
If Wallace were the team’s Randy Moss, then the Wes Welker spot would be Dillon Stoner’s. This junior is about as sure-handed as they come, and is an underneath slot threat, as he is second on the team in catches and yards.
Lastly, we discuss the recent quarterback play, as redshirt freshman Spencer Sanders beat out Hawaii transfer Dru Brown in the offseason. While Sanders portrays elite athletic ability, his decision-making has been less than stellar. Sanders does have an innate ability to run the ball (averaging 65 yds per game), but his passing efficiency has hurt the offense. The heralded recruit only completes 62% of his balls and has thrown 9 interceptions to 11 touchdowns, most recently turning the ball over EIGHT times in the last two games.
The Verdict – Oklahoma State
Of all the amazing defensive numbers for ISU over the last 3.5 years, it has been Oklahoma State who is able to put up points and production on Jon Heacock’s scheme. Of the FOUR teams to score more than 24 offensive points (in last 29 games), the Pokes are the only ones to do it MORE THAN ONCE.
Look for a big day out Hubbard (as you expect), and Sanders will force you to pull your hair out on a few scrambles.
Third Key to Victory – An Error-Free Kicking Day
Well, shucks. Just when we thought we had this whole kicking thing figured out, you go and do something like that! Brayden Narveson was supposed to be ISU’s long field-goal kicker, but he may have just lost that job, after missing TWO 40+ yard kicks last week. Not only that, but almost always reliable Assalley hooked an extra point.
Gotta clean up those mistakes, and the Cyclones are lucky that didn’t come back to bite them. Those two will be called upon for closer matchups as the season wears on.
The Cowboys have one of the best in Matt Ammendola, as he ranks third among all active players with 311 career points, and is a perfect 10-for-10 on the year.
Aussie punter Tom Hutton is special at his pooch punts, and is only allowing 0.29 yards per return. Too bad, ISU just fair catches everything any way.
Other than that, look out for the block party, as Okie State has the 2nd most blocked kicks since 2013, but have yet to be much of a force in 2019.
Verdict – Cowboys
Yeah, this one is pretty obvious.
Winning Scale from 1 to 10
I am quite confident about this upcoming game, and in light of Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy’s fantastic mullet, today we play a game.
On a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being the world’s worst mullet (Joe Dirt) to 10 being the best (Patrick Swayze), I give the Clones a Billy Ray Cyrus shot at winning this one.
This is not the Oklahoma State team of old, and the Cyclones are catching them at a perfect time. Sanders has hit a bump in the road the size of an asteroid, and will either crater or come out of it. With the defense that ISU implores, my guess is he will struggle.
ISU’s offense will continue to put up points, and while OSU will put up a fight offensively, it is their defense that will lose it for them.
Iowa State 45
Oklahoma State 36
Hit us up with your predictions in the comment section below!