Iowa State flips its own script in win over TCU

Iowa State Cyclones defensive end Joey Petersen (52) celebrates with teammates after a quarterback sack against TCU during the first half in the Jack Trice Legacy Game at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, in Ames, Iowa. © Nirmalendu Majumdar/Ames Tribune / USA TODAY NETWORK

AMES – On the first drive of Iowa State’s 27-14 win over TCU on Saturday, the Horned Frogs showed they could move the ball. On the seventh play, quarterback Chandler Morris was picked off by Will McLaughlin.

Then the Cyclones’ defense, by way of Beau Freyler, ended TCU’s ensuing drive with a second pick.

Untimely mistakes are nothing new to Iowa State fans — seeing a strong offensive showing down the field abruptly end in a turnover is what that group saw numerous times in 2022. Late game execution often hindered Iowa State.

TCU exhibited those exact traits on Saturday. Iowa State came away with a dominating win over a conference foe for the first time since Breece Hall was running through defenders.

“Yeah, at times, I thought there were moments where you saw us play really good football tonight,” coach Matt Campbell said. “And, you know, again, the hope with this young team is to be growing forward. I would say there’s great growth.

Iowa State had grown accustomed to losing games in the waning minutes. It didn’t get as low as the ‘nut cup era,’ but it wasn’t the same look to the program that went on five straight bowl trips.

It can be argued that it appeared that way in the non-conference slate, but the changes made since that dreary day against Ohio in Athens are becoming increasingly visible.

“I thought the ability in all three phases playing really good,” Campbell said. “And yet, all three phases, at times, were not playing as good as we want it to, so that’s really exciting. I told our kids, the fact of the matter of is we still haven’t come anywhere close to what we’re capable of playing. That’s exciting. Yet, I think there was great growth in some areas tonight that maybe weren’t as good the week before.”

It’s not perfect, but it’s there.

The Cyclone defense forced four interceptions during the game. It’s the first time that’s happened since Campbell’s first season at the helm.

Rocco Becht had a quiet game, throwing for 138 yards on a 16-28 line, but it was largely because of the success of the run game as to why his numbers would seem down compared to other games.

Eli Sanders finished the game one yard short of the century mark and added a score. Abu Sama’s 55-yard sprint to the end zone added an exclamation mark to the atmosphere in the stands.

Those fans erupted as Darien Porter got in the backfield to block a TCU punt late in the first half.

It was a designed scheme Jordan Langs’ and his staff noted coming into the game.

“Yeah, it was definitely something we had,” Porter said. “We had kind of schemed it up, because two years ago, we had a very similar block. Basically, (TCU had) the exact same scheme two years ago. (We) kind of saw the same flaw in the system two years later, so let’s see if we can get another crack at it. And we did.”

Iowa State came away from the win with a 2-1 record, and it will turn its focus to the road matchup against Cincinnati set for next week.

The Bearcats are looking for their first Big 12 win and also trying to snap a three-game winless streak. Two of the three losses came in one-possession games.

Sound familiar?

“Complimentary football is the way you win football games at Iowa State,” Campbell said. “And it’s how we’ll have to continue to do it and be better.”