Iowa State welcomes TCU for a Black Friday showdown

Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell looks up at the video-board during pre-game ahead of the Cyclones’ game with No. 8 Oklahoma State on Oct. 23.

James Powell

AMES- The end of the 2021 regular season has arrived. And Iowa State has lost two straight games and sits at 4-4 in the Big 12.

As the Cyclones enter a Black Friday battle with the TCU Horned Frogs, Matt Campbell and his team are eliminated from Big 12 championship consideration and now have to win their season finale to avoid going 6-6.

Their opponent, TCU, has gone through a coaching departure this season and find themselves at 5-6 with one game to go, as they try and earn bowl eligibility for the 13th time in the last 15 years.

The Horned Frogs have had many successful seasons in recent years but parted ways with Gary Patterson earlier this year, who held a 181-79 record in 20 plus seasons as head coach.

They are now led by interim head coach, Jerry Kill, who has 36 years of coaching experience under his belt.

As for the Cyclones, they come off of a game that saw them stopped short on a potential game-tying drive in the dying moments, as Brock Purdy was intercepted with 15 seconds left to seal the loss.

Now, Campbell and his team have one last game in the regular season to try and counter their recent struggles and conclude the Big 12 slate on a high note.

It’s also worth noting that Senior Day festivities will also take place at Jack Trice Stadium before the game, and it will be something to behold as 23 seniors receive recognition for their efforts in the program.

Campbell knows how much his seniors mean to the team, and says it won’t be easy to say goodbye to the players he feels were the first he was truly able to develop a relationship with.

“It’ll be emotional for me because every step of the way, this group has had elite courage, elite standards of excellence and it’s never wavered,” Campbell said. “To me, it’s kind of fitting, the season we’re having because I feel like it’s defining of this group has never wavered, has never flinched and they just keep playing.”

The season Campbell is referring to has seen a lot of last-second finishes, tough losses and tribulations that have led them to the 6-5 record they sit at currently.

Xavier Hutchinson, one of the many seniors playing Friday, reflects on his time at Iowa State fondly, and is grateful he could be one of the playmakers that the offense depended on many times on the field, but also one of the personalities his teammates leaned on off of it.

“I feel like my impact here wasn’t just on the football field, but just being a player to get the transition going for this program and I’m just so happy that I could be a key part in that,” Hutchinson said.

He, along with Charlie Kolar and Breece Hall have formed a solid system of weapons for Brock Purdy and the offense all season long, and that was evident in their recent game against Oklahoma.

Hutchinson had seven catches for 48 yards, and Kolar shined throughout the game with 12 catches, 152 yards and a touchdown.

They will be depended on once again to produce and may find it easier going against the ninth-ranked scoring defense in Big 12 in TCU, ahead of just Kansas. 

TCU gives up an average of 33.7 points per contest, while the Cyclones give up an average of 21.2.

In last year’s matchup, it was Hall show as he ran the ball 18 times for 154 yards, and also added three touchdowns. He has rushed for three touchdowns just one other time in 2019 against West Virginia.

Hall is also looking to make a large bit of history in their season finale. He has scored a rushing touchdown in 23 straight games, and would have an NCAA record if he were to reach the end zone against TCU in game number 24.

Also of note, the Horned Frogs were the last team to hold Hall scoreless in the 2019 edition of this matchup played on Oct. 5. The next week against West Virginia began the since-unbeatable streak.

Hall and the rest of Iowa State will look to end their regular season on a high note, and send their multitude of seniors out in the best way possible.