Takeaways: Cyclones take down Cowboys in all phases

Mike Rose celebrates with Will McDonald after a sack against No. 8 Oklahoma State on Oct. 23.

Sam Stuve

Iowa State earned a signature win Saturday by beating No. 8 Oklahoma State 24-21, thanks to all three phases coming up big when needed most.

In Saturday’s win, Iowa State had a strong performance in the passing game, strong second-half defense and defensive end Will McDonald inched closer to a record.

Passing game lifts Iowa State

In most games, Iowa State’s running attack is what gets the offense going. This wasn’t the case Saturday.

While running back Breece Hall got the go-ahead score for the Cyclones late in the game; it was the passing attack that opened up the offense. 

For Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy, Saturday’s game was one of his best performances of the season. He completed 27 of 33 passes for 302 yards, two touchdown passes and zero interceptions.  

“I mean, I know my teammates always got my back, you know, even early on in the season when stuff wasn’t going our way or my way, that kind of thing,” Purdy said. 

Along with his four touchdown and zero interception performance against Kansas, this performance shows that Purdy is playing really well right now, and Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell strongly agrees.

Campbell said Purdy played well Saturday and has been doing so for the last four of five weeks.

“I think there were not a lot of nice things said about Brock Purdy earlier in the season,” Campbell said. “Foolish, but whatever. The reality of it is he’s an 18 to 22 year old kid. He’s a young man that’s growing into a man, he’s still in college football, right? Like, this isn’t pro sports. And so I think all those people that maybe said those not nice things about Brock Purdy should really look in the mirror tonight and say, ‘Boy, how grateful are we at Iowa State, to have that young man leading this program.'”

His 312 yards passing is the highest he has thrown for since Nov. 27, 2020, against Texas. 

Saturday, his favorite two targets were wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson who had 12 catches for 125 yards and two touchdowns, and tight end Charlie Kolar who had six catches for 69 yards.  

“So to go out there and just play free and know that they got my back, it helps my game,” Purdy said. “It helps me have poise and then just go out there, play free and be me.” 

Oklahoma State struggles in third quarter  

Coming into Saturday, Oklahoma State had scored just three points in the third quarter all season. That number didn’t change Saturday.  

Oklahoma State had three drives in the third quarter against Iowa State. 

These drives resulted in a punt, a missed field goal and another punt. 

And those missed opportunities kick-started Iowa State’s offense. Iowa State was able to outscore Oklahoma State 10-0 in the third quarter due to “A” players on defense making “A” plays.

Campbell said Iowa State was teetering coming out of the first half as they had just given up a touchdown on a long pass that could’ve been deflected or intercepted. 

“We were teetering a little bit I thought at halftime and I thought the result of our kids coming out in the second half was awesome,” Campbell said. 

One player who “gutted it out” was linebacker Mike Rose, who led the team with eight tackles and had what appeared to be a shoulder injury during the game.

“I just think he’s a bit dinged up,” Campbell said Saturday. “I don’t think it’s anything major right now, but I think that’s easy to say today. I think we’ll have a greater understanding [Tuesday], but you know, Mike is able to go in and man he got it out in a lot of ways today. We’ll know probably a lot more about it in the next 48 hours.”

Another “A” player who played “A” football Saturday was defensive end Will McDonald.

McDonald inches closer to school sack record

Junior defensive end Will McDonald is already Iowa State’s single-season sack record holder with 10.5 last season.

But with two sacks Saturday, he’s now just a half sack away from tying the school’s career sack record, which was set by his former teammate, JaQuan Bailey.

With at least five games remaining in the 2021 schedule, McDonald is likely to break the record.

In the postgame press conference Saturday, McDonald was humble and gave a lot of credit to Bailey for what he taught him.

“[JaQuan] basically taught me everything when I came here,” McDonald said. “I give all the credit to him.”

McDonald’s sacks were not only big in terms of beating the record. The sacks came late in the fourth quarter during the Cowboys’ second to last drive, and McDonald single-handedly forced them to punt. 

“I think just the ability to keep playing and you know, I mean Will’s ability to be a playmaker and do it when it counts the most I think is really big,” Campbell said.

McDonald finished Saturday’s game with five tackles, two sacks and one pass breakup. He has 7.5 sacks so far this season.