Takeaways: Iowa State’s Big 12 Championship hopes increased against Kansas State

Iowa State running back Breece Hall evades a Kansas State defender during the game between the Cyclones and the Wildcats on Nov. 21 at Jack Trice Stadium.

Stephen Mcdaniel

With the football season starting to dwindle down to the last few games of the 2020 season, Iowa State football is lining itself up with a push to make it to the Big 12 Championship.

The Cyclones sit atop the Big 12 standings with a 6-2 overall record and a 6-1 Big 12 record following a dominating 45-0 win over the Kansas State Wildcats.

With only two games left in Iowa State’s season — a road game against Texas and a home game against West Virginia to close the regular season — the Cyclones are gaining the momentum to make it to the Big 12 Championship game.

The best performance yet

History has always shown that games between Iowa State and Kansas State are always very close battles. Saturday’s game proved that claim wrong.

“I think one thing we haven’t done probably a great job is coming off of a bye week and I thought we really handled the last two weeks,” Head Coach Matt Campbell said. “I thought fundamentally and technically, we were really sound and I thought that was really positive from our team’s standpoint.

“Obviously, a lot of credit to our coaching staff as well.”

Iowa State turned in one of its best overall performances, not only this season, but in recent history in its 45-0 rout over Kansas State. The Cyclones hit the ground running and never gave the Wildcats a chance to even make it close.

Iowa State’s first drive of the game ended with a 33-yard connection between junior quarterback Brock Purdy and redshirt sophomore Joe Scates for a touchdown. This would be the first of three touchdowns for Iowa State’s junior quarterback.

As a team, the Cyclones scored six total touchdowns with 539 total offensive yards that was made from 299 yards through the air between Purdy and freshman quarterback Hunter Dekkers and 240 yards on the ground between Breece Hall, Jirehl Brock, Kene Nwangwu, Purdy and Dekkers.

On the opposite side of the ball, the Iowa State defense limited Kansas State to 76 passing yards and 73 rushing yards for a grand total of 149 offensive yards. The Wildcats converted four of their 12 third down conversion attempts and both of their fourth down conversion attempts ended in a turnover on downs.

A second quarter beatdown

While the game was all Cyclones from start to finish, the main damage was done in the second quarter.

The first, third and fourth quarters combined for 17 of Iowa State’s 45 total points, meaning the Cyclones scored 28 points off of four touchdowns in the second quarter.

The quarter started off with Purdy throwing his second passing touchdown of the day to Charlie Kolar to kickstart Iowa State’s stellar second quarter performance.

Two drives later, Purdy connected with Xavier Hutchinson from 21 yards out for Purdy’s third touchdown of the day, putting the Cyclones up by three scores.

“As far as the play calling, Coach Manning was calling great plays trying to get players involved and we just made plays when the opportunity was there and I think that’s what really happened in the second quarter,” Hutchinson said.

Iowa State’s following drive saw star running back Breece Hall break out a 33-yard rushing touchdown to put the Cyclones up by 28 points. The ensuing Kansas State drive ended after the first play, with quarterback Will Howard throwing an interception to Iowa State linebacker Mike Rose.

Hall made good use of the Rose interception by busting out a 21-yard rushing touchdown for his second touchdown of the day and putting the Cyclones up 35-0.

The Cyclones recorded nearly 200 yards of offense and four touchdowns in the second quarter as compared to Kansas State’s 12 total yards of offense and one interception.

Kansas State’s anomaly drive leads nowhere

For a second, or about five-and-a-half minutes, it seemed like Kansas State was ready to make Saturday’s game another close battle to continue the tradition of close games between the Cyclones and Wildcats.

Following Iowa State’s first drive that resulted in Scates’ receiving touchdown, the Kansas State offense came out moving the ball with ease — something that would be lost throughout the rest of the game.

Led by Howard under center, the Wildcats started on their own 35-yard line and proceeded to make their way all the way down to a first and goal on Iowa State’s 3-yard line.

After three plays, Kansas State found itself on a fourth-and-goal situation on the Cyclones’ 2-yard line. The attempted fourth-down conversion by Kansas State ended in a loss of a yard after Lawrence White and Will McDonald stopped Howard behind the line of scrimmage, giving the Cyclones the ball.

“To limit a drive where [Kansas State’s offense] did a good job from a Kansas State standpoint of moving the football down the field and then to be able to hold them to zero points there, I thought that was big,” Campbell said.

That was the closest the Wildcats came to knocking on the door of a score for the remainder of the game.

From there on out, Howard, and eventually replacement quarterback Nick Ast, struggled to lead the Wildcats down the field. The Iowa State defense shut down Kansas State’s pass game and left the Wildcats with nowhere to go in their ground game, leading to Iowa State’s blowout and shutout victory.