116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
AMES — It finally clicked.
Iowa State played 60 minutes of rock-solid football in last Saturday’s 31-14 win over West Virginia at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones’ already staunch defense improved. The moribund run game sprang to life.
And ISU (4-5, 1-5 Big 12) finally notched a conference win after five disheartening losses by an average of 5.6 points.
“I think when you look at the moments, you’re either confirming who you are, or you’re trying to transform yourself forward,” Cyclones head coach Matt Campbell said after the victory over the Mountaineers. “My challenge (before the win) to our kids was really, man, our story is our story until it’s not our story. Right? There’s a whole lot of stories still to tell.”
The next chapter will start at 2:30 p.m. Saturday against injury-plagued Oklahoma State in Stillwater.
The Cowboys lost at Kansas, 37-16, last Saturday while several key players — including longtime starting quarterback Spencer Sanders — had to sit out because of ailing health. I’ll assume Sanders can return against the Cyclones, so he’ll top my list of five Oklahoma State players to watch.
QB Spencer Sanders
Sanders — who entered his senior season as the only quarterback on the Cowboys’ with any collegiate game reps — was knocked out of his team’s 48-0 loss two weeks ago at Kansas State.
Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy said after missing the Kansas loss, Sanders will be “reevaluated” this week and likely will be a game-time decision. If Sanders does play, it will obviously be a huge boost for the Cowboys, who miss his leadership and production.
He’s thrown 15 touchdown passes to five interceptions this season and also has rushed for eight touchdowns. Sanders threw for there touchdowns and no interceptions against ISU in a 24-21 loss last season.
RB Dominic Richardson
The 6-foot, 210-pound junior has emerged as Oklahoma State’s workhorse out of the backfield after serving as a backup to Jaylen Warren the last two seasons.
RIchardson’s rushed for 502 yards on 135 carries this season. He’s also rushed for a team lead-tying eight touchdowns — and reached the end zone three times in the Cowboys’ 34-27 win over Texas before the back-to-back lopsided losses at Kansas State and Kansas.
Richardson sat out the Kansas State loss because of injury and totaled just 51 yards on the ground last week in his return against the Jayhawks.
WR Bryson Green
The 6-1, 205-pound sophomore provided his team with one of very few bright spots against Kansas, hauling in a single-game career-high nine catches for 105 yards.
Green has eclipsed 100 receiving yards three times this season and saw a string of three consecutive games with a touchdown reception snapped at Kansas State. He’s scored five touchdowns this season while stretching the field to average 17.0 yards per catch.
WR Brennan Presley
Presley caught two of Sanders’ three touchdown passes last season against the Cyclones and has recorded four or more catches in all but two games this season.
The shifty 5-9, 176-pound junior has only scored two touchdowns this season, but his latest one ignited a fourth quarter comeback in the win over Texas.
Presley’s also a skilled kick returner who has scored one career special teams touchdown while averaging 29 yards per return.
LB Mason Cobb
The 6-0, 230-pound junior from Provo, Utah (of all places) has been a playmaker for one of the Big 12’s most porous defenses.
He ranks fifth in the conference in tackles with 44 and also has two sacks, a forced fumble and an interception. Cobb has notched eight or more tackles in five games, including a 16-tackle performance in a 43-40 overtime loss at fourth-ranked TCU.