Three Big Takeaways: Cyclones quiet the Longhorns

Breece Hall tosses the ball to an official in the Cyclones’ 30-7 win against Texas on Nov. 6.

Matt Belinson

Texas is back (in the loss column).

Iowa State took care of a reeling Texas Longhorns team Saturday night at Jack Trice Stadium, continuing its push in the Big 12 title race while dropping Texas to 2-4 in league play.

The Cyclones found their stride in the second half thanks to ‘A’ players doing what’s expected of them. This Cyclone victory over Texas marked the third year in a row. 

Breece Hall makes a statement

Bijan Robinson and Breece Hall are advertised as two of the best running backs college football have to offer. Saturday was their chance to prove themselves against one another.

By the time the clock hit zero, and the Cyclones won 30-7, Hall felt like a statement was made beyond the large margin of victory.

“I still don’t think I’ve played the best game of my career yet,” Hall said.

Bold words from a running back who is week-by-week establishing himself as one of the best the Big 12 and college football has seen in some time.

The junior from Wichita, Kan., finished with 19 rushes for 136 yards and two scores. Meanwhile, Robinson finished with 18 carries for 90 yards, respectively. 

Hall extended his streak with a touchdown run to 21 games, good for the third-longest streak in NCAA FBS history and the longest in Big 12 history. His two touchdowns gave him his 18th multi-score game, which was good for fourth in Big 12 history.

Iowa State receiver Xavier Hutchinson’s opinion of his teammate was only solidified in the win.

“To me, Breece is the best running back in college football, and I think today he proved that,” Hutchinson said postgame.

Hall’s 100-yard games have become commonplace, but it took half the game to get him going.

Texas’ physical defensive front presented challenges for Iowa State early on. The Longhorns move their defenders at the point of attack before plays begin and Hall said he needed time to see how Texas operated. The 17-yard total wasn’t pretty. But Hall stayed patient.

On Iowa State’s first drive of the second half, he took off for a score. 

His 47-yard touchdown run gave Iowa State a 10-7 lead and was the longest of his career at Jack Trice Stadium. It was his biggest run of the night on his way to surpassing 1,000 rushing yards for the second consecutive year, the ninth Iowa State running back with multiple 1,000-yard seasons.

“I knew at the beginning of the game it wasn’t going to be easy, so I just had to stay patient cause Campbell just reminded me to keep playing, keep pressing my points, keep running it how I run it,” Hall said.

Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell has seen Hall’s ascension into one of the best backs Iowa State’s ever had. He was impressed with his performance in the victory.

“I thought Breece had maybe one of his best games of his career,” Campbell said.

Campbell has challenged Hall to become a complete tailback over the last two seasons, threatening a defense with his natural speed and ability to make people miss in the open field. Knowing angles of when to make a cut on a defender or when to pop through an open hole has made Hall the athlete he is.

So, what’s it feel like to be Breece Hall in the open field?

“I don’t think anyone’s going to catch me I think,” Hall said. “If I get past the linebackers, get one-on-one with any DB, safety, I’m going to make them miss and try to score a touchdown.”

Tom Brady or Xavier Hutchinson?

You be the judge, but Hutchinson got his chance to be a passer in the Cyclones’ third-quarter resurgence Saturday.

The former high school quarterback caught Texas sleeping on defense and took the swing pass from Brock Purdy, only to throw it himself to Tarique Milton for a 49-yard touchdown.

“It wasn’t pretty, so you know why he’s not a quarterback anymore,” Campbell said Saturday. “Great call by Coach Manning. I told him, ‘Man, gutsy call.'”

What was his thought when the play call came in over the headset?

“Run it. As fast as we can.”

Texas’ corners had been aggressive on Iowa State’s bubble screens throughout the night, and Iowa State took advantage at the right place and right time.

After Hall’s 47-yard burst opening the third quarter, Iowa State put the game away thanks to the boldness of Tom Manning and the arm of Hutchinson.

But don’t fret, Iowa State faithful, Hutchinson isn’t coming for Purdy’s job.

“I could never take his spot,” Hutchinson said with a smile. “But all I’m saying is if they ever need a quarterback to come in, I’m your guy.”

His response to Campbell’s criticism of the pass itself?

“He’s just a hater. If you look at it though, the pass is right in stride.”

The Cyclones had run the trick play only twice before in practice. And Hutchinson didn’t complete the pass either time.

After Saturday, the senior is now 1-1 for 49 yards with a touchdown in his career.

Plenty left to fight for

November is shaping up to be a make-or-break stretch, but the Cyclones wouldn’t want it any other way.

Iowa State’s win over Texas moves their Big 12 record to 4-2, tied with Baylor for third in the conference. But the Bears’ final three games are at home against 9-0 Oklahoma, then Kansas State and Texas Tech.

To make the path to the Big 12 Championship somewhat easier, the Cyclones need someone to take down Baylor to overtake them in the Big 12 standings.

It’s in the Sooners’ hands to help Iowa State.

Oklahoma’s final three games are against three of the Big 12’s best: Baylor, Iowa State and Oklahoma State. 

Iowa State will need help from the Sooners to run the table outside of their matchup down the stretch.