Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Brock Purdy (15) runs the ball 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 — Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy’s played in — and won — enough Big 12 football games that he knows what to expect as his experience team stares down and bears down on a bye week, then prepares for the bulk of the conference season.
No one knows. It’s simply a madcap, hard-to-predict culmination of a nine-game round robin slate that will leave oddsmakers occasionally stymied and so-called experts speechless.
“Obviously being in my fourth year here in this conference, that’s really how it’s been,” said Purdy, who set a program record with four touchdown passes in the first quarter of Saturday’s 59-7 dismantling of Kansas at Jack Trice Stadium. “I don’t care what rank you are, how many wins you’ve had, all that stuff. All these teams in this conference give everybody each other’s best shot. For us, we understand that. We know that.”
Since Purdy came to the Cyclones (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) he’s seen his team progress from long-shot upstart to near-favorite — and fluctuate in between.
Last week, Baylor used superior special teams to beat ISU, 31-29.
This week, the Bears won the turnover battle at Oklahoma State, but still lost 24-14.
We’ve seen Oklahoma escape tough outings against both West Virginia — which lost to Texas Tech Saturday at home — and Kansas State.
Texas held off TCU a week after hanging 70 points on Texas Tech and on and on it goes.
The bottom line: Consistency is key for every team — even the unbeaten Sooners, who have won six straight league titles.
The Cyclones nearly toppled them in last season’s Big 12 title game, but obviously didn’t — and that makes them the favorite no matter how much they seem to struggle while nonetheless winning every game.
Try to make sense if this. You can’t. And if your Purdy and ISU, you shouldn’t.
Embrace the chaos because that’s the one constant in the Big 12 and almost every other league. The excitement lies in the unknown. The triumph stems from the torment.
“Yeah, all these other teams are going around and beating each other and whatnot, but that’s the reality of it,” said Purdy, who also rose to third all-time at ISU is rushing yards for a quarterback Saturday with 1,079. “If we’re gonna get to where we want to be at the end of the day we’ve just gotta focus on each other; focus on one game at a time and being our best on that Saturday.”
That next Saturday — after a bye week — lands the Cyclones in Manhattan, Kan., against a Kansas State team they haven’t beaten on the road since 2004.
“We’re excited,” Purdy said. “Because we know we’ve got a lot of games and opportunities in front of us.”
DIAL UP DEKKERS
Backup quarterback Hunter Dekkers holds one distinction few thought he would at this point in the season. His 41-yard touchdown run Saturday is the Cyclones’ longest run from scrimmage in 2021.
Defensive lineman Enyi Uwazurike’s second career blocked field goal Saturday led to Greg Eisworth’s first career blocked field goal return. Eisworth snagged the fluttering football and galloped 55 yards before he was tripped up at the Kansas 32-yard line.
Four plays later, Purdy hit backup tailback Jirehl Brock for his first career touchdown from seven yards out, but might Eisworth have taken the return to the house to begin with?
“Yeah, I was kind of tired,” Eisworth said. “And then I (saw defensive end) Will (McDonald) try to lay the block on somebody, but kind of laid down in front of me and kind of tripped up right there but I was out of gas.”
Uwazurike is the first Cyclone with two blocked field goals in his career since Nick Leaders swatted down two in the mid-2000s.
“It was defintely exciting to see Greg get that and go as far as he did,” Uwazurike said. “I wish he would have cut it in.”