Coming off a well-timed bye week, the Cyclones head to Norman to take on the Sooners. Iowa State and Oklahoma have a deep history, meeting in 83 of the last 90 seasons, with the Sooners getting the best of the ‘Clones in the all-time series, 75-6-2. The Cyclones however have tallied 4 of their 6 wins on the road in Norman. While Iowa State has gone 20+ years at a time without beating Oklahoma, things are different this time around.
Matt Campbell started the process in 2015, and did something no one thought was possible in 2017. He brought a team looking for an identity - and frankly a quarterback - and found a way to upset a College Football Playoff contender, thanks to a 5th year quarterback, Kyle Kempt.
The date is October the 7th, 2017. The Cyclones sat at an underwhelming 2-2 notching wins over FCS powerhouse UNI and the mighty Akron Zips. While a heart-breaking loss to Iowa and a poor performance against Texas have plagued Iowa State, Jacob Park had shown that he was capable of balling out. Through the first 4 games of the season, Park had completed 100 of 162 passes, while averaging over 295 ypg, and 9 touchdowns.
The next news shocked Cyclone Nation, as the word got out that Park would not travel with the team to Norman, and would be out indefinitely due to “personal health issues”.
IAs I am sure this was the case for many Cyclone fans, when I saw Kyle Kempt would be the starting quarterback, I had to pull up a roster to even see who that was. Kempt made sure that was the last time anyone in Ames would question who he was.
Oklahoma opened the game with an under-3 minute scoring drive, while the Cyclones were unable to move the ball and started the game with a 3-and-out. The Sooners marched down the field once again and scored, 14-0 OU. The teams would trade field goals, before Iowa State was able to find the endzone via a 2 yard run from David Montgomery. Oklahoma answered with a touchdown of their own, and Garrett Owens was able to knock one through the uprights before half, Boomer with the lead at the break, 24-13.
The Whirly Birds opened the second half with a 3rd field goal from Garrett Owens, and recovered an OU fumble on the ensuing possession to build a little momentum. Iowa State, backed up on its own 2 yard line, made a very key 3rd down conversion on 3rd and 14 to keep the drive going that would eventually be capped off by 28 yard catch-and-run by Marchie Murdock (that featured incredible blocking from the receivers, might I add). Matt Campbell showed off his gambling skills, and drew up a perfect play for a 2-point conversion to tie it up at 24.
Oklahoma responded with a solid drive, but missed a field goal to give the Cyclones the ball back and a chance to take the lead. The ‘Clones would need just 2 plays as the goose got loose on a 57 yard screen play from Kempt to Trever Ryen, 31-24 Iowa State. The ensuing possession saw OU play Sooner football as they drove down the field and found the endzone to make it 31-31.
With just over 7 minutes left in the game, Kyle Kempt would have the ball and a chance to secure his first win. He was able to lead a drive that only faced one 3rd down and took 5 minutes off the clock, and he threw it up to ole’ reliable, Allen Lazard, to retake the lead, 38-31 with 2 minutes to go. Oklahoma failed to get anything going and turned the ball over on downs, making for an all-time “Who’s yo daddy” soundbite.
While the whole team played outstanding, Kyle Kempt was above all. He finished 18 of 24 with 343 yards along with 3 touchdown tosses, and an oh, so sweet victory over the 3rd ranked team in the nation. Kempt would take the reigns of the Cyclone offense for the rest of the year and became the feel good story of Iowa State football. He is currently on the coaching staff at Iowa State.