Takeaways: Iowa State breaks the curse of Kansas State


Then-freshman quarterback Brock Purdy looks downfield as he scrambles to his right against Kansas State on Nov. 24, 2018. Iowa State knocked off Kansas State 42-38.

Noah Rohlfing

Iowa State is 7-4 after a wild 42-38 victory over the Kansas State Wildcats. This game had it all: turnovers, missed field goals and big comebacks. 

Where is the rush defense? 

Iowa State has had the best defense in the Big 12 all season. 

But the past three games, that defense has disappeared. Baylor, Texas and Kansas State all exceeded season averages on the ground, with the Wildcats gaining 245 yards and averaging 5.2 yards per carry. Iowa State gave up 184 yards to Alex Barnes, who came into the game as the Big 12’s leading rusher.

“We were all over the place and I don’t know why,” Campbell said of the defense’s inability to stop the run. “It’s felt that way for the last few games.”

Getting gashed in the rushing game for three straight weeks isn’t necessarily what the Cyclones had in mind when heading into the home stretch. Drake won’t be much of an issue, but the impending bowl game — depending on the opponent — might require the Cyclones to find a solution to their running-game woes.

The addition of defensive lineman Enyi Uwazurike could be important as he grows back into a full-time starting role.

Kempt gets a sendoff moment

It was Brock Purdy who led the Cyclones to their comeback victory, but it was not the true freshman out on the field kneeling out the clock on Saturday night. Campbell was able to get sixth-year senior Kyle Kempt on the field to take the final snap on senior day, a big moment for a player who Campbell has said was the most important person in the program.

“I don’t know if I could have scripted it any better, to be honest with you,” Campbell said. “It was an emotional day for me because I love Kyle.

“What he did was more powerful this year than what he did last year.”

Kempt has seen brief action in the Kansas and Texas games following his recovery from a knee injury suffered in the season opener against Iowa. Kempt will possibly see action against Drake on Dec. 1, but this was his last Big 12 action. 

Honoring Kempt — who has many times said he would consider coaching — was important to many Cyclone players. 

“He’s been through a lot,” running back David Montgomery said. “To keep going the way he does, it’s mesmerizing. I’m grateful to be around.”

Purdy and bouncing back

The Cyclones were done and dusted. 

Down 17 with 12:24 to play, it seemed like it was going to be yet another Kansas State victory in Farmageddon. 

But, after throwing interceptions on two consecutive possessions in the third quarter, Purdy threw a touchdown to Sam Seonbuchner and was an important part of the Cyclones’ comeback. 

Campbell was impressed by the true freshman.

“Brock’s best football game of his career today,” Campbell said. “What you saw today from that guy? Pretty powerful.”

Purdy threw for 337 yards and two touchdowns to go with the two picks, adding 37 yards on 10 rushes. The Cyclones needed every last yard. 

It’s fair to wonder where Iowa State’s record would be without the freshman’s performances, and his bounce-back ability could be important moving forward, especially next year when he could possibly be without Hakeem Butler and Montgomery.