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Football

WILLIAMS: Analyzing Iowa State’s convincing win over Texas Tech

Oct 10, 2020; Ames, Iowa, USA; Iowa State Cyclones head coach Matt Campbell congratulates quarterback Brock Purdy (15) after a touchdown against Texas Tech Red Raiders at Jack Trice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Powers-USA TODAY Sports.

AMES — Let’s get it out of the way. Tech blocked a field goal and returned it for the touchdown in Saturday’s 31-15 Cyclone victory over the Red Raiders.

Now you can’t call me a homer. I led with basically the only bad thing that occurred in front of 15,000 crazy people at Jack Trice Stadium. 

I loved this football game for Iowa State. 

It’s been a while since we’ve seen this program absolutely manhandle a quality opponent in the way that the Cyclones did Texas Tech in the first three quarters on Saturday. The famous “Patrick Mahomes game” from 2016 might be the best comparison. 

To put the lopsidedness into proper perspective, Texas Tech only had 95 yards of total offense heading into the fourth quarter. At the same point in the game, Iowa State had run 79 plays to Tech’s 31. Texas Tech was 0-for-10 on third down. 

The 16 point final difference on the scoreboard gave no justice to the bloodbath that this actually was. 

The game was far from perfect though. There was just enough wrong there for Matt Campbell to nitpick during a bye week, which is a positive. But this was but another step in a positive direction for an Iowa State team with serious (and very realistic) Big 12 championship aspirations. 

Onto this week’s Three Up, Three Down. 

THREE UP

1 – No letdown: I did not anticipate that we would see one, but you always have to be on alert following an emotional victory like Iowa State had last week vs. Oklahoma, where the Cyclones beat the Sooners in Ames for the first time in 60 years. 

Iowa State came out of the locker room vs. Tech as sharp as a tack. 

The Cyclones forced the Red Raiders to go three and out to set the tone nicely in the first defensive possession. Then, the offense marched right down the field before that blasted illegal formation penalty which led to a blocked field goal. 

You get the point. 

For those who gamble, note that Matt Campbell is now 5-0 against the spread vs. Texas Tech. 

2 – Run game, rush defense: The anatomy of a solid football team. The Cyclones won this game in the trenches. 

Tech averaged only 2.6 yards per carry for 58 rushing yards on the day compared to Iowa State’s 214 at 5.0 per pop. 

That’s it. That’s the game. 

The thing about Iowa State’s defense in this one is that it was actually quite bland. Last week, the story was Jon Heacock spicing things up in the second half. He never had to vs. Tech. Iowa State stayed in its base defense and rode the day out, dominating for four quarters. Iowa State barely blitzed at all.

Breece Hall started to get some national love after last week’s win, but he’s really going to start getting mentioned a lot at this point. Hall, a sophomore, tacked on another 135 yards to his season total with two more touchdowns, putting him at eight on the season (second nationally).

He is a top five running back in all of college football right now … easily. 

3 – Weapons: Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day for me was how often Iowa State threw the ball early. After re-watching the game, it is pretty clear that Iowa State was scheming early to set up the run with short, highly efficient passes. 

With that, Brock Purdy got a TON of guys involved. 

Eleven Cyclones caught passes in the victory. 

It’s notable that Tarique Milton was out with an injury. 

The three tight end monster that Iowa State runs out there is the gift that keeps on giving. Charlie Kolar, Chase Allen and Dylan Soehner combined for 10 receptions and two touchdowns in the win. 

I have a strong suspicion that Iowa State played more skill guys than normal on Saturday. It certainly seemed like the formations were more creative and vast than ever too. 

THREE DOWN

1 – Scoreboard didn’t match the pounding that this game was: First world problems, here. 

But I totally agree with you guys. It would have been nice for Iowa State to step on the gas a bit more to pull away more comfortably. 

For example, I would have loved to have seen Hunter Dekkers and Jirehl Brock get some reps. 

My good friend and smart football mind Jack Whitver put it well last night in a conversation we had following Cyclone Reaction. 

“That was the most Matt Campbell game ever,” he said. “We could have won 49-7.”

If you watched the postgame press conference, you heard Campbell speak of playing “complementary football” often. He’s big on that. 

I would have loved to have seen some young guys get important reps but the fact is, a couple of turnovers kept it from happening. Not much more to it than that. 

2 – That special teams blunder should have never happened: That’s two games in a row where the Cyclones have been called for an illegal formation inside of the red zone. This one cost Iowa State a touchdown (first series of the game), which eventually resulted in the blocked field goal that was returned for a Texas Tech touchdown. 

Those are mental errors by young wide receivers that will likely get pounded into their brains during the bye week. 

3 – More injuries up front: Iowa State lost another offensive lineman on Saturday when sophomore tackle Joey Ramos left the game in the first half with an apparent leg injury. 

The bodies are starting to pile up in the offensive line room, as Ramos joined Trevor Downing on the sidelines. Of course, veteran Robert Hudson has been used sparingly this season too due to injuries. 

This isn’t all bad. Jake Remsberg, a redshirt freshman out of West Des Moines, stepped in admirably. He played really well. 

I’m not sure the difference between these first and second string guys on the line is that large, but I do worry about heading into the bulk of the Big 12 season with so many of them on the shelf. 

Campbell finally admitted after the game that it will be a while before the team’s best lineman – Trevor Downing – gets back. 

We are a bit in the dark on what exactly happened to Ramos. Let’s hope that it is minor and that he’s back for Oklahoma State. The bye week will help.

There is enough quality depth there to be down one or two guys, but more than that and I’ll start to worry. 

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