Stuve: Iowa State needs a “Brocktober” kind of November for Big 12 race

Brock Purdy (left) and Breece Hall (right) look to the sideline for a play call against No.10 Iowa on Sept. 11.

Sam Stuve

With a 23-point win over Texas and a crucial loss from Baylor at the hands of TCU Saturday, Iowa State (6-3, 4-2 Big 12) is just one game out from second place in the Big 12.

What’s it going to take to climb to that second place spot with three games to go? 

The simple answer is perfection.

And I don’t mean that in terms of every play, quarter or half, I mean that in terms of Iowa State likely can’t afford another loss if it wants to be back in the Big 12 Championship. 

To do that, I think Iowa State needs to have the type of execution that they have had in Octobers of year’s past.

But I’m not talking about a kind of “Brocktober” of this year, last year, or 2019, where Iowa State has rarely lost a game in the calendar month. 

I’m talking more so about the initial Brocktober in 2018 or the success the Cyclones had in the month of November last year, where they went 3-0.

Baylor (7-2, 4-2) beat Iowa State earlier in the season so it has the tiebreaker over Iowa State, Oklahoma State is one game ahead of both squads at 8-1 (5-1 Big 12) and Oklahoma leads all with a 9-0 (6-0 Big 12 record). 

And with Oklahoma playing every other team I just mentioned, I think its unlikely it will win all three or lose all three. I think Baylor will be favored against Kansas State and Texas Tech, while Oklahoma State likely winning against TCU and Texas Tech.

Now obviously, there’s the potential for upset, as there has been already this season in the Big 12, but if we’re going by chalk this what it’ll shake out like.

So where do this leave Iowa State? 

Well, you have a road date against a Texas Tech team who is coming off a bye week and is a 5-4 (2-4 Big 12) team that could upset you if don’t bring your “A” game. That is followed by a road date at Oklahoma, then the season finale against TCU at home on Black Friday. 

Simply put, Iowa State can’t afford to sleepwalk through anything at this point. 

I think Iowa State knows this and that’s what fans saw in the second half against Texas (mostly the third quarter), when Iowa State shut out Texas 27-0.

“I don’t think we were too far off from the first half,” Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell said during the Texas postgame press conference. “We just had more precision and detail in the second [half].” 

Campbell may not say there was a switch flipped, but to me it felt like there was.

Going back to last week, on the Tuesday after the West Virginia loss, there was something unique that tight end Charlie Kolar said about learning from both wins and losses.

“I think that it’s important in times like this, remember that like the world’s not falling. What’s hard about football is that you have to be able to learn just as much from wins as losses, which is tough and which is why teams oftentimes struggle when they start winning because they don’t learn, they don’t improve,” Kolar said. 

“And I think that’s one thing that we need to be better at.  We need to win and then we need to continue to learn and win and learn. I always [have] believed in this team. I’ve always trusted this team, we got to find ways to keep having that same drive every single game, every single week. And I’m not questioning effort on the team, I think the team plays hard as ever, just the little things we need to better at.”

Now for the man behind the “Brocktober” slogan, quarterback Brock Purdy.

He’s been very solid over the last seven outings and for the season, he has completed 72.9 percent of his passes for over 2,000 yards, 12 touchdowns and four interceptions.

Iowa State’s going to need Purdy to be an “A” player for the rest of the season if it wants to go to the Big 12 Championship. 

If they are able to win out and make the Big 12 Championship, it may happen one of two ways.

Along with solid defensive play, it could be because of Brocktober-esque performances from Purdy, or maybe it’ll be the dominant running game leading the charge in what could be called “Breecevember,” (I know it’s not catchy but let’s just roll with it).

Now it is unfair to put all the pressure and the fate of a team’s conference standing on one or two players and all of that shouldn’t fall on just their shoulders.

But what I’m saying is these two are Iowa State’s biggest pieces, and I see them being vital to Iowa State’s success. 

Regardless of how it happens, Iowa State is going to need “A” performances from its “A” players in each of the next three games if it wants to make another trip to the Big 12 Championship.