AMES — My thoughts on Saturday’s Oklahoma State-Iowa State game at Jack Trice Stadium:
Oklahoma State Cowboys
It almost seems like Oklahoma State has turned into what Texas Tech used to be.
The offense is filled with dynamic playmakers that can seemingly score at will.
The defense, on the other hand, is a glorified revolving door. The revolving door might slow you down or break your stride, but it’s still pretty easy to get to where you want to go.
The Cowboys have given up 45 points in two straight losses — one to Texas Tech and the other to Baylor.
It hasn’t helped that Oklahoma State turned the ball over five times against Tech (two fumbles and three interceptions) and three times against Baylor (two fumbles and one interception).
But even with the turnovers, the Cowboys are finding ways to score.
“You turn on the film and the sheer ability (of their players) jumps off the film,” Iowa State Coach Matt Campbell said. “The receiving corps is led by one of the most dynamic receivers in college football, the running game is incredible, then you see this super talented quarterback. You talk about a young player growing into his own — you almost see his evolution happening. He has elite arm strength, elite escapability, making elite plays with great consistency.
“It’s as dynamic of an offense as we’ve faced so far. They’re really impressive.
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“When you have elite playmakers, it gives you an ability to overcome a bad bounce here or a bad situation there and continue to put your team in a good situation to be successful. They’ve been able to do that.”
That dynamic receiver is Tylan Wallace, who leads the Big 12 in receiving with 772 yards and has seven touchdowns on 45 receptions.
The running back is Chuba Hubbard, who leads the nation in rushing with 1,265 yards and 15 touchdowns.
“He’s a complete tailback,” Campbell said. “What’s so impressive to me is his ability to make all of the runs, his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. We’ve been fortunate in my time to be able to coach some really good running backs and he has all the qualities of what great running backs have the ability to do. He’s been incredible for them. He’s a real talent and he’ll be a real challenge for us.”
The quarterback is freshman Spencer Sanders, who has 1,490 passing yards and 11 touchdowns while completing 62 percent of his passes. His weakness is turning the ball over. He has nine interceptions.
Iowa State Cyclones
Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy made his season-saving debut against Oklahoma State last season. The Cyclones were 1-3 before Purdy took over. They ended the regular season 8-4.
The Cowboys know Purdy well. He scored five touchdowns against them in his debut, a 48-42 road win.
Now, after a somewhat shaky offensive start to the season, Iowa State has found its stride.
Thanks to Purdy, now the leading quarterback in the Big 12.
Purdy has 2,185 passing yards and 14 touchdowns while completing 70 percent of his passes.
The Cyclones have averaged 40.3 points over the last three games. And in all three games, Iowa State backed off, either by inserting backup quarterback Re-al Mitchell in the fourth quarter or running the ball almost exclusively in the second half unless it was a third-and-long situation.
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“You have to think about what’s on the offensive side of the football,” Campbell said. “It’s a true sophomore quarterback, a running back position that was sorting itself out and now it’s a true freshman in Breece Hall and really young wide receivers. When you talk about that, you’re going to have to grow. It’s not going to just happen. That’s part of the process of growing and building as a team. Every year that has to occur because you’re going to lose good players and the next group is going to have to step up.
“As much as you say they’re ready to go in fall camp, but until you step out under the lights and until you go through failure, the ebbs and flows of the game and have the ability to respond to that, I think that’s part of the growing process. That’s part of the offense’s growing process a little bit — who, what, how. That group has done a really nice job as this season has gone.”
Iowa State’s defense continues to be strong. Against Texas Tech, Iowa State allowed just 4.6 yards per completion. It made the Red Raiders dink and dunk their way down the field and didn’t allow anything deep.
It was a performance defensive coordinator Jon Heacock was pleased with, and one he wants to see again against Oklahoma State.
Iowa State 40, Oklahoma State 27
The defense should be able to somewhat contain Hubbard and Wallace and the Iowa State offense shouldn’t have a problem scoring.
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