Iowa State Cyclones wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson (8) catches a pass for a touchdown during the first half of the game against Kansas at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. © Zach Boyden-Holmes/The Register / USA TODAY NETWORK
AMES — The Kansas cornerback gambled.
Locked up with Iowa State standout wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson along the sideline, he chose to try to jump the route.
Now, there are safe gambles and desperate gambles.
This one slipped squarely into the latter region as Hutchinson caught Brock Purdy’s pass, swiftly churned his legs and saw no one between him and a 36-yard touchdown.
No one. No help — and the Jayhawks needed plenty of that in the Cyclones’ 59-7 Big 12 triumph Saturday night at Jack Trice Stadium. They got none. Football was fun as heck again. A crowd of 60,446 cell phone camera waving fans exulted as records fell like well-placed dominoes for ISU (3-2, 1-1), which also collected two turnovers and blocked a field goal while racing to a 38-0 halftime lead.
“All it was gonna take is one miss and he’s gone,” Purdy said of the touchdown pass to Hutchinson. “And sure enough it happened.”
As for record breakers — or extenders — here’s a cursory list:
**Purdy christened the 2021 version of “Brocktober” with four touchdown passes in the first quarter alone. He did that on just five attempts. His quarterback rating soared past 350 — and everything in terms of team success went up, up and away from there.
“I really felt like Brock has really started to really play Brock Purdy style of football,” ISU head coach Matt Campbell said. “So really proud of him. Again, (it’s) kind of like the message I’m saying that you’ve got to strengthen through struggle. And when your best players have the ability to do that, I think your team has the ability to do that.”
**All-American tailback Breece Hall became the Cyclones all-time leader in rushing touchdowns with 39. The first of two Saturday nudged him out of a tie with Troy Davis. The second — which put ISU up 45-7 early in the second half — came on his last carry of the game. Hall also extended his Big 12-record streak of rushing touchdowns in consecutive games to 17 and eclipsed 3,000 yards on the ground in his Cyclone career.
“Honestly, I had no idea,” Hall said of his record-setting night. “Nobody told me ‘till after the game, so that was cool and all. The records are cool, but I just enjoy being out there with my teammates having fun. Enjoying the win.”
**All-American tight end Charlie Kolar caught his 19th career touchdown pass, extending his program record at the position. He also snared a pass for the 28th straight game, tying him for third all-time in that category with Hakeem Butler.
“Over the last two weeks you’re seeing a healthy Charlie Kolar like I think you’re seeing a healthy Breece Hall,” Campbell said. “So I think certainly a positive for (Purdy) that you have two ‘A” players that are getting back to (an) ‘A’ style of football.”
**The Cyclones notched their record-extending eighth consecutive conference home win, which is exactly double the previous best streak of four. Their 59 points is second-best all-time vs. a conference opponent (66 vs. Pat Mahomes and Texas Tech in 2016) and they are now 13-1 in their last 14 Big 12 home games.
“It felt like we finally took that step as a team this season,” senior safety Greg Eisworth said. “Everything was just meshing. Defense getting those three and outs and offense going and putting up points on the board. I think that’s huge, especially going into this bye week.”
**Campbell has now won 27 league games, which ties him with Dan McCarney for the most in program annals.
**Purdy also extended his personal record with his 20th conference win as ISU’s quarterback and became the sixth player in league history to rack up 10,000-plus passing yards and 1,000-plus yards on the ground. The other five? Baker Mayfield, Robert Griffin III, Colt McCoy, Trevone Boykin and Sam Ehlinger.
Good company? Undoubtedly. And the smart money is on him — and the Cyclones — surging up the standings as the season winds down.
ISU is now 14-2 in the month of October since 2017, which is also tied for the second most victories among all FBS programs (Alabama, 15, Clemson 14) in that span.
All of that is now a well-established trend, not happenstance. Zach Petersen recovered a fumble precisely because he’s always where he needs to be. Kym-Mani King picked off a pass in the end zone simply because he’s becoming that type of player. Enyi Uwazurike blocked that field goal — and Eisworth returned it 55 yards to set up a touchdown — precisely because they are leaders and ‘A’ players in the program. Their habits lead to good fortune. As others match them, more follows.
“The reality of it is we have to make the ball bounce our way,” Campbell said. “Right? In our sports, (people sometimes) say, ‘Ah, it’s lucky.’ No, that’s all B.S. You make the ball bounce your way — and I think that’s a little bit of a difference of what I was looking for (after last week’s 31-29 loss at Baylor). Now I will say this: I thought our Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday practices that we had, I’ve been here I don’t know how long, but it’s the best I’ve seen. So to me, those are great indicators. Our sport’s still real. You have to practice well to play well and if you’re willing to do that then, man, great things can happen.”