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Top 10 Matt Campbell Era Wins: #3 2020 at Texas

With a conference championship on the line, the Cyclones came through on the road.

Football season is rapidly approaching. The WRNL staff is getting excited. As we head towards the beginning of the 7th season with Matt Campbell as the head coach at Iowa State, we wanted to look back and rank our top 10 wins from the first 6 seasons. To do this, the staff was polled to give their personal 1-10 rankings. Win #1 was worth 10 points, #2 worth 9 points, and on down. The games that earned the most “points” are what we will look back on throughout this series. Coming in at #3 is the 2020 road game against Texas that booked a trip to the Big 12 championship game.


This was the game that would determine the fate of the 2020 Cyclones, and how fitting it was that it would come against the fallen empire of the league. Texas had their own chance to reach the conference championship game under Tom Herman, and this one would essentially decide his fate as head coach. It was an odd Black Friday feeling in Austin, with an early kickoff and hardly anyone in the stands. This game didn’t get the treatment it deserved from ESPN. But that didn’t lessen the stakes, and boy did it live up to the hype.



On this wildest of Black Fridays, Iowa State was looking for their first ever trip to the Big 12 championship game. Texas was probably looking for some extra TV money somewhere. In front of a reduced crowd in Austin, similar to what an 11:00am SEC Network kickoff against Vanderbilt will look like in a couple of years, we were off. The winner was locked into Jerry World. Texas got off to the hot start in this game. After a Cameron Dicker field goal, QB Sam Ehlinger, who proclaimed to the world 11 months earlier that the Longhorns were back, scored a rushing touchdown to make it 10-0. As had been the case 2 years earlier, Iowa State got off to a slow start in Austin.

Brock Purdy got the offense on track late in the first quarter. WR Sean Shaw broke free down the sideline, and evaded a couple of tackles to get Iowa State on the board. Another Dicker field goal made it 13-7 after an action packed 1st quarter. Iowa State then embarked on a patented long drive. 8 minutes of clock time later, Connor Assalley kicked a short field goal to make it 13-10 Longhorns, although we were feeling a little deflated. Regardless, we had weathered the early storm, and now surely we’d take control in the 2nd half, right?

Not quite. Halfway through the 3rd, it was Texas scoring again to make it 20-10. Iowa State responded with another field goal drive, but it just felt like we weren’t taking advantage of the opportunities we had. A big gain by Charlie Kolar got us in scoring range but again we settled for a field goal to make it 20-16 early in the 4th quarter. The defense came up with a massive stop on 4th down deep in Iowa State territory with 8 minutes left, and got one more stop with 3 minutes left to give the offense one last chance.

Then, the drive. Breece Hall started it off with a 20 yard run. Back to back passes to TEs got us to the red zone with 2 minutes left. Two more Breece runs and we were in the end zone to take the lead 23-20 with 1:25 left. But we weren’t done left. Ehlinger had Texas at the Iowa State 35 yard line with 20 seconds left. On 3rd & 10, Latrell Bankston got home, sacking Ehlinger to push the field goal attempt way back with only 2 seconds left. Texas called their last timeout as we figured we’d have to stop a Hail Mary attempt. Instead, Texas sent Dicker out to try a 57 yard field goal. He had the leg to do it. It all came down to this one play. Of course Matt Campbell had to call his last timeout to add to the tension. All our hopes hanging on this one kick, and it was a great kick. It looked right down the middle, but then it hooked to the left. NO GOOD! Iowa State pulled the stunner to clinch a spot in the conference championship game. PLAY THE VIDEO!


  1. QB Brock Purdy (25/36, 312 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT)
  2. TE Charlie Kolar (6 catches, 131 yards)
  3. LB Mike Rose (13 tackles, 1.5 TFLs, 1 pass defended)


  1. Brock Purdy to Sean Shaw down the sidelines for Iowa State’s first TD
  2. Rory Walling snuffs out and stops a fake punt
  3. The defense stops Texas on 4th & 1 at the 13 yard line with 8 minutes left
  4. Breece Hall’s go ahead TD with 1:25 left in the game
  5. Latrell Bankston’s 2nd sack to push Texas out of reasonable FG range with 0:02 left
  6. Cameron Dicker’s missed 57 yard FG giving Iowa State the win and a trip to the Big 12 Championship Game
  7. The Brock Purdy horns down photo in the locker room


Without a doubt, this win over Texas was one of, if not the outright, greatest wins in program history. While it wasn’t necessarily a landmark victory over a top-five opponent, especially one that Iowa State hadn’t beaten since the first Bush administration, it did mark the first moment any of us can remember when Iowa State was put in a situation to capture some glory and achieve a significant season-level goal…and succeed!

The Cyclone went punch-for-punch with a talented Texas team in Austin and gave themselves a chance to win at the end with a clutch drive. In a situation where they could have given up the long touchdown drive we’ve seen other teams make a hundred times, they instead make a couple critical plays, including a huge sack by Latrell Bankston that pushed the Longhorns back just far enough to give Dicker’s kick the room it needed to swing wide left and all but punch Iowa State’s ticket to Arlington.

The 2020 Texas game isn’t important because of a single highlight play or outstanding individual performance, it’s because our Cyclones finally what they’d failed to do so many times before that:

Come through when they had every reason and opportunity to fail. -Levi Stevenson


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