Nov 11, 2023; Provo, Utah, USA; The Iowa State Cyclones celebrate their win over the Brigham Young Cougars at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports
Within three minutes, Iowa State had scooped up two turnovers Saturday night at BYU.
Within four and a half minutes, the Cyclones enjoyed a 10-0 lead.
And by halftime, ISU had raced to a commanding 31-7 advantage — and it became apparent they would sew up bowl eligibility for the sixth time in the past seven seasons sans any late-game stress at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
“in our program, when we’ve been really good, we’ve had the ability to win on the road,” ISU head coach Matt Campbell told reporters after his team’s 45-13 win over the Cougars in Provo, Utah. “It’s really hard to do and it’s really hard to do in this conference, But I think it says a lot about the competitive character and the competitive endurance of our kids.”
The Cyclones (6-4, 5-2 Big 12) are now tied for second in the conference standings with two games remaining in the regular season. First up: Saturday’s 7 p.m. matchup with No. 7 Texas (9-1, 6-1) at Jack Trice Stadium. Then ISU travels to Manhattan to face No. 23 Kansas State, so the Cyclones will likely be decided underdogs down the stretch — and their devotion to “precision and detail” must heighten if they’re to enhance their postseason hopes.
“We still have to prove that we can do that with elite consistency going forward because those challenges only get harder,” said Campbell, whose team has won three straight conference road games for the first time since 1978. “But from our end, I thought the ability to do it at this place, where it hasn’t been done very much at night, against an opponent we had the utmost respect for, it was fun to watch our kids go execute with a lot of precision (Saturday).”
ISU’s redshirt freshman quarterback, Rocco Becht, painted a portrait of efficiency, completing 15 of 23 passes for 203 yards and a pair of touchdowns to the Cyclones’ leading wide receiver, Jaylin Noel.
True freshman tailback Abu Sama struck for several big runs and racked up 110 rushing yards and two touchdowns on just eight carries. Fellow tailbacks Eli Sanders and Cartevious Norton also rushed for one touchdown apiece as the Cyclones amassed 234 yards on the ground and 443 yards overall.
“I thought that running back room was phenomenal (Saturday),” Campbell said. “Again, I think sometimes you look at just one entity, but it’s never that. It’s really the collective group (on offense) just getting better and in synch.”
Becht has thrown 15 touchdown passes this season, which ranks tenth all-time on ISU’s single-season chart. He also helped the Cyclones convert on eight of its 14 third-down plays — an area the team has excelled in recently.
“I thought he did a really good job in terms of — like you said on third down and even when the first or second read wasn’t there, his ability to get to the third or fourth read (was impressive),” Campbell said. “He did a really good job using his feet and I think he played with a lot of confidence.”
That’s true for Becht, but it also applies to ISU’s team as a whole. Underdogs or not, the Cyclones still have a chance to ensure they record a winning season for the sixth time in seven seasons, as well.
“There’s huge football in front of us,” Campbell said. “And what a great opportunity and tribute to this team that we’re in week 11 and (we’ve) put ourselves in a really great spot.”