Notebook: Growth and history prepare Iowa State for a Friday contest against Texas

Iowa State running back Breece Hall runs the ball up the sideline during Iowa State’s game against Kansas State on Nov. 21 at Jack Trice Stadium.

Zane Douglas

In front of an anticipated matchup against Texas, Iowa State football is riding high with a 6-1 record in the Big 12 and a first place spot all alone.

The No. 15 Cyclones control their own destiny with one of the biggest games in their history coming up against the No. 20 Longhorns.

A Cyclone win would all but seal them a Big 12 Championship berth while a Longhorn win would cause chaos at the top of the conference standings.

Head Coach Matt Campbell and his team spoke to the media Tuesday with the game coming up.

Continuing to grow

One of Campbell’s heavily stressed points Tuesday was that the Cyclones are continuing to grow. Campbell said that growth and striving to be better will determine how the conference shakes out.

The Cyclones have been better this season than in previous at winning tough games and hanging in with top of the line competition. They’ve also bounced back from an ugly loss to Louisiana before the conference season started and made their season into one of the best in Cyclone history.

Finishing it off successfully is the task now and the Big 12 Championship is the way to meet that. Campbell and his team have been talking about how important it is to look forward and take it one day at a time, even after a 45-0 win over Kansas State where the Cyclones did everything right.

“The key was never about winning or losing early, it was about growing and getting better,” Campbell said.

COVID-19 changed the framework for how college football would work this season and the Cyclones have been as good as any team at limiting cases within the football team as well, giving the team ample room to grow like any other year while other programs may be dealing with outbreaks.

Avoiding history in Austin

The last time Iowa State met the Longhorns in Austin, Texas, was an important game.

Both teams were vying for a spot in the Big 12 Championship and both were ranked as the season wound down.

The Cyclones were a newer team to join the competitive fold, but the Longhorns has been there before and it showed.

Texas beat Iowa State 24-10, moving to 8-3 in the conference with Iowa State falling to 6-4 and destroying Big 12 title hopes for Matt Campbell’s group.

“I think at that time, we were babies, we were just evolving,” Campbell said. “Everything was so brand new.”

Linebacker Jake Hummel was with the team in 2018 and his role has increased since then.

Hummel said that he thinks the team is more ready for this game against Texas, having been there before now and coming in with a better record at the top of the Big 12.

“I feel less anxiety-ridden,” Hummel said. “I feel the team’s ready for the situation and we’re treating it almost the same way as any other game.”

Short week concerns are dismissed

Iowa State and Texas will play in a short week as the two teams meet on Friday instead of Saturday. Despite this, Campbell said there is not much of a difference this late in the season.

Campbell started off mentioning the health and safety of his football team as priorities, but alluded to how late it was in the season as a bigger factor in determining player health and safety.

Tight end Chase Allen echoed those sentiments.

“The fact that we’re on a Friday, it doesn’t really make a difference to me or any other guys on the team,” Allen said. “We’re already pumped, a day ahead in our schedule and we kind of put the horse blinders on during the season.”

The game will be at 11 a.m. Friday in Austin, with the game being televised on ABC.