Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association
108 years ago.
The last time Iowa State even won a share of a conference championship. The Cyclones that year went 6-2 with a 2-0 conference record and finished in a tie for first place with Nebraska.
Now, with a win over the Texas Longhorns on Black Friday, Iowa State could all but secure their spot in their first ever Big 12 Championship Game. Brock Purdy, Breece Hall, and the Cyclones had 4 quarters, and it took all 60 minutes, but they finally did it. They won the game no one thought they would ever win.
Going to reverse the order this week, because why not?
What Went Wrong
Red Zone Offense
Woo boy. The red zone was not the Cyclones’ friend on Friday. The Cyclones had 3 different drives end in the red zone with field goals, and a 4th ended at the Texas 23, with a missed 41 yard kick from Assalley. Whether this was because Iowa State couldn’t spread the field with the lack of yardage, or whether Texas just decided to tighten up in the red zone, or what it was, the world may never know. All I know is Iowa State isn’t winning too many games 3 points at a time the rest of the season, and executing in the red zone needs to be better.
Ha ha, fooled you. I know exactly what went wrong in the red zone on Friday. Drive killing penalties. And if that’s not the sole reason, well, it’s definitely a major part. Iowa State only committed 5 on the day, but 2 of them came on the doorstep of the goal line. A false start on 2nd and goal from the Texas 2 and a holding on 2nd and 7 from the Texas 10 both killed huge touchdown opportunities for Iowa State. Iowa State also shot itself in the foot with an illegal formation (lined up over the long snapper) on a Texas field goal that Dicker doinked off the upright, but then drilled the following kick after the enforcement.
Deep ball pass defense
Man, oh man, oh man. Iowa State has a glaring weakness (that some have pointed out for a while, not to toot my own horn) and Texas finally took advantage of it. Sam Ehlinger only had 17 completions on the day, but he totaled 298 yards and a touchdown. He started off attacking Iowa State deep right out of the gate, hitting Brennan Eagles for 59 yards on the first drive of the game, then hit Eagles again down the sideline for a 45 yard gain in the 2nd half. Jake Smith added a 30 yard reception for the Longhorns, and Tarik Black’s only reception went for 28 (though he did fumble after a hit from Isheem Young.)
What Went Right
Has Purdy finally hit his stride? With the tight end duo of Charlie Kolar and Dylan Soehner ripping up the middle of the field, and Sean Shaw with his best game on the outside, Brock Purdy posted his 2nd 300 yard game of the season. Not to mention, he had Tarique Milton back in the lineup for the first time in 5 games, so the Cyclone offense was much more efficient on the quick screens on the outside. Tarique was also able to thin out the defense over the top, which opened up a lot of space for Tight End U to work their magic.
Purdy looked relatively calm for most of the game, and had some nice runs when he got into trouble, even breaking out of potential sacks and giving his guys a chance to get open downfield. This is the Brock Purdy we’ve been waiting for, and he’s getting hot right when the Cyclones need it.
Normally on fourth downs, it’s hard to really win or lose a game. Iowa State won the game on Friday on 4th downs. They converted their only 4th down attempt fairly early in the game, but late in the game, when it mattered most, the defense (and yes, even the special teams) stepped up to make the play when it mattered. On 4th and 8 at the Iowa State 48, Texas kicker Cameron Dicker lined up to punt it back to the Cyclones, who trailed by 7 at the time.
Instead, as Dicker took the snap, he pulled the ball back, and threw to Longhorns tight end, Cade Brewer, who only made the grab and had room to run. Cyclone WR Rory Walling recognized the play, came off his guy, and made a hell of a tackle to turn Texas over on downs.
Then, on Texas’ next drive, instead of making it a 23-16 lead, Texas decided to go for it on 4th and short from the Cyclones’ 13. Ehlinger kept it, went over the right side, and JaQuan Bailey made the tackle from his back (unlike Philip Rivers) with a little help from Mike Rose, and the Cyclones once again turned the Longhorns over.
I mean, come on. How do you not love this? Shoutout to all of you, #CyclONEnation.
Now let’s go take care of business on Senior Day at Jack Trice.