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Top 10 Matt Campbell Era Wins: #5 2021 vs Oklahoma State

Purdy precision, a lesson in taunting, and stout 4th down defense highlight this game.

NCAA Football: Oklahoma State at Iowa State Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

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. Starting the top 5 is last year’s home game against Oklahoma State that (maybe) kept the Cowboys out of the CFP and taught us all the taunting rule.


Iowa State came in as a slightly disappointing 4-2 after starting the season #7 in the AP poll. Oklahoma State came in undefeated but a little bit unchallenged. The Cyclones were a surprisingly hefty favorite, but this series always leads to close games. Would the senior-laden home team be able to put together one more signature memory?



Iowa State came into this game as a surprisingly hefty favorite on Homecoming, but it was Oklahoma State who struck first. Brennan Presley got into the end zone from Spencer Sanders to start the scoring. Iowa State couldn’t respond right away, and the Cowboys were quickly in scoring position again. Shades of 2011 popped up though, and Tanner Brown missed a long field goal to keep it a one score game.

The Clones set off on a long drive, and I mean long. 9 and a half minutes of clock time worth. Finally, on 4th & goal on the 15th play of the drive, Brock Purdy hit Xavier Hutchinson on a quick out to score the tying touchdown. Sanders hit Presley for the 2nd time on a deep pass, and despite gaining the momentum and playing well, Iowa State was down 14-7 going into the locker room.

Iowa State came out firing after halftime though. Hutchinson broke free on a slant route to go untouched into the end zone for a long touchdown to tie the game. Except, he didn’t. He was called for taunting. What he did to taunt, we still don’t know, but everyone in the stands and watching on tv got to learn how the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty worked. So all of a sudden after the game tying score, Iowa State had 1st & 10 at the 15 yard line. Regardless, Purdy hit Hutchinson in the corner to finish off the possession in style, and Hutch had his 2nd score of the drive. Another promising Oklahoma State possession ended with a 2nd missed field goal, this time from only 32 yards out to keep the score tied. A later Mevin field goal made it 17-14 Cyclones after 3.

The 4th quarter was everything you could want from a college football game. Iowa State had their chances to put the game away, but was stopped on a late 4th down. Oklahoma State responded with Sanders hitting Tay Martin for a TD to retake the lead with 8 minutes left. Iowa State would respond, with senior Tarique Milton picking up 33 yards on a crucial catch and run to set up Breece Hall for a 4 yard score to put the Cyclones in front 24-21. Will McDonald then had sacks on back-to-back plays to wreck the Cowboys’ next possession despite being held on the 2nd sack. Iowa State was unable to put the game away yet again, so it would all come down to the defense holding one final time.

Oklahoma State got to about midfield before facing a 4th & 2 with the game on the line. Mike Rose had just come off the field with an injury. The play call? A screen pass. Kym’Mani King lead the charge to stop the play. The entire stadium was on edge as the chains were brought out for a measurement. Jack Trice exploded as the ball was stopped inches short. But wait? A review got called in. Surely this wouldn’t work in Iowa State’s favor. These things usually don’t. This time however, the call stood, and Iowa State had sealed a win over a Top 10 opponent on Homecoming. The stadium got one more huge roar after the announcement of the review. The fans poured onto the field after Purdy’s final kneel down.


  1. WR Xavier Hutchinson (12 catches, 125 yards, 2 TDs)
  2. QB Brock Purdy (27/33, 307 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs)
  3. LB Will McDonald (5 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 pass defended)


  1. Brock Purdy hits Xavier Hutchinson on a speed out on 4th & goal to get Iowa State on the board
  2. Xavier Hutchinson teaches everyone the taunting rule in the most egregious case of over-officiating many of us have ever seen, only to polish off the drive with a 2nd TD of the same possession
  3. Tarique Milton breaks a big gain over the middle to set up Breece Hall’s go ahead TD
  4. Will McDonald picks up sacks on back-to-back plays to end an OSU drive
  5. The defense steps up, shutting down Okie State on 4th & 2 to seal the win


Brocktober at its finest. A top 10, undefeated team, coming into Jack Trice in a mid-afternoon game, against a 4-2 Cyclones team tip-toe’ing the line of disappointment. I had this game higher than most, it’s at number three in my personal list.

Before I get into the meat of the game, the weather was just as volatile as the game was. When they opened the lots that morning, I couldn’t feel my feet because it was so cold, and it was too hot for a sweatshirt by halftime. If you’re freezing and sweating all in the same Saturday, that’s immaculate football weather.

A bunch of memorable moments in this one, namely, Xavier Hutchinson being the victim of what I think is the worst call in college football history, only to score another touchdown on that same drive en route to 120 plus receiving yards on the day.

Will McDonald IV with back to back sacks late in the 4th quarter to force the Cowboys to punt it away in what appeared to be the game winning defensive stop.

And then AFTER Iowa State had a 3 and out of their own, the Cyclone defense came up huge AGAIN. This Oklahoma State team learned the hard way, college football is a game of inches.

I was at this one in the stands, and I know this past season was an overall disappointment, but that game was vintage Matt Campbell and the culmination of why I love to be an Iowa State Cyclone fan.

Those seniors deserved a homecoming win, and would be the only team that beat the Cowboys in the regular season last year. Awesome game. -Dylan


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