Iowa State Cyclones

Iowa State football experiencing razor-thin margin between victory and defeat

Cyclones have lost 4 games this season by a combined 11 points

Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy drops back to pass during the Cyclones' 42-41 loss at No. 9 Oklahoma at Gaylord Famil
Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy drops back to pass during the Cyclones' 42-41 loss at No. 9 Oklahoma at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Jairaj/USA Today Sports)

NORMAN, Okla. — Over the last three college football seasons, only three teams from Power Five conferences have not lost a game by more than 14 points.

Oklahoma, Washington and …. Iowa State.

This season, four losses by a combined 11 points have kept the­ Cyclones (5-4, 3-3 Big 12) from the type of season being enjoyed down in Waco, Texas, home of one of the nation’s surprise teams, the 9-0 Baylor Bears.

After Saturday’s 42-41 loss at No. 9 Oklahoma — a game in which Iowa State trailed by 21 points in the fourth quarter — Iowa State Coach Matt Campbell praised the fight and toughness in his players while simultaneously stressing the need for the type of attention and structure the Cyclones must exhibit to have success in all four quarters of each game.

“We have just got to learn from some of the precision and detail things that have snuck up on us in a couple of moments,” Campbell said. “Fortunately at Iowa State, you have got to play four quarters with great detail because we are just not that team that is going to be able to play three quarters or 2 1/2 quarters and win football games. Our key to success is four quarters that way.”

Other than the 18-17 home loss to Iowa in the second game of the season, Iowa State was put in a significant early hole in each of its other losses. On Sept. 28 at Baylor, the Cyclones trailed 20-0 after three quarters, but scored three touchdowns in the fourth before losing 23-21 on a field goal with 21 seconds left. Four weeks later, Iowa State fought back from a 21-10 deficit to Oklahoma State and tied the game at 27-27 with 9:06 to go, but lost on an interception return for a touchdown less than three minutes later.

“We can play,” Iowa State junior safety Lawrence White said. “We have just got to get a better kickoff, a better kick-start. We can’t afford to put ourselves in a hole like that. We fix that, we will be all right.”

Against Oklahoma, the halftime hole was 35-14. After three quarters, it was 42-21. Still, the Cyclones rose up by outscoring the Sooners 20-0 with the three fourth-quarter touchdowns, the last of which was scored with 24 seconds left. After the score, Campbell elected to attempt a two-point conversion to win the game, but it was intercepted. Iowa State was left with its fourth narrow defeat in a season that was launched with high expectations and legitimate hopes for a spot in the Big 12 title game.


“It is rough, but honestly it comes down to detail,” Iowa State sophomore quarterback Brock Purdy said. “Like literally it could be one play that changes the game. It just makes all of us be dialed into what we have got to be doing. Next couple of weeks, all these teams are great and we have got to be on our detail every single play, every single snap. This is just going to be huge going forward.”

Iowa State will host Texas and Kansas over the next two weeks, then close the season Nov. 30 at Kansas State.

“Just keep believing,” Campbell said. “They are a group of kids that are a couple points away from maybe some different results, but everybody says, ‘Man, the ball has got to bounce your way,’ but that is not really true. Really in football, you have got to make the ball bounce your way.”


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