Iowa State to rely on defense against Oklahoma State

Quarterback Brock Purdy looks for an open receiver during the football game against Texas Tech on Oct. 19 at the Jones AT&T Stadium. The Cyclones defeated the Red Raiders 34-24.

Zane Douglas

Iowa State has hit its groove in the month of October, and this week the Cyclones will play one of the better offenses in the Big 12 led by key players at important positions. Iowa State and Oklahoma State square off Saturday for the Cyclones’ Homecoming game.

Stopping the Cowboys’ attack

Oklahoma State has an explosive offense that can cause problems for any defense in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). At the forefront are three key weapons: quarterback Spencer Sanders, wide receiver Tylan Wallace and running back Chuba Hubbard.

Sanders is a redshirt freshman who leads the dynamic attack, and Wallace commands a ton of respect on the outside as he has hauled in the second-most receptions per game of anyone in the conference and is pacing the same field when it comes to yards per game.

These two weapons would be enough to worry any defensive coordinator, but it’s Hubbard who is the most impressive.

Hubbard is averaging 180.7 rushing yards per game, which is way above anyone else in the conference — Kansas’ Pooka Williams is second at 105.8 yards per game.

Hubbard has also found pay dirt 15 times on the ground, which is five more times than second place in the conference — Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts — and nine more times than Iowa State’s quarterback Brock Purdy, whose six rushing scores have him at a tie for fourth in the conference.

Hubbard’s 1,265 yards and 15 touchdowns both lead the FBS as well.

“We’ve been fortunate in my time to be able to coach a really good running back,” said coach Matt Campbell. “He’s got all the qualities of what great running backs have the ability to do.”

Campbell mentioned his pass-catching ability as well, but something of note is that Oklahoma State gives Hubbard the ball more than anyone in college football. On the season, Hubbard has already rushed the ball 194 times — good for just under 28 times per game.

Iowa State will have to find a way to slow him down or it will be a tough day for the Cyclone defense.

Purdy back in the spotlight

Iowa State’s sophomore quarterback was put into action last season against Oklahoma State, and he brought an immediate offensive explosion with him.

Purdy threw for 318 yards and four touchdowns in his first-ever collegiate experience while also rushing the ball 19 times for 93 yards and a touchdown.

Over a year later, Purdy gets to face the same team that he played a hand in beating in 2018.

“I just wanted to keep things simple and play football,” Purdy said. “I was just like ‘hey, this is almost just like high school’ but obviously everyone is faster and stronger.”

Purdy took the starting quarterback job from Zeb Noland and never gave it up, as he led the Cyclones to an Alamo Bowl appearance and an 8-5 season (7-2 with Purdy at the helm).

Iowa State is 5-2 this season and the Cyclones have leaned on their second-year quarterback for most of the offensive production, but the last couple of games have shown someone else get into the mix.

(H)all rise

Freshman running back Breece Hall put forth his best effort Saturday against Texas Tech, eclipsing his career-high in yards from the previous week against West Virginia with a monstrous — or if you’re Chuba Hubbard, pedestrian — 187 yards and two-touchdown performance on the ground.

Hall added a long reception on a swing pass catch-and-run for 61-yards and two more receptions that brought his receiving total to 73 yards on the day.

“With Breece, he can bounce off a tackle and get two or three extra yards,” said wide receiver Deshaunte Jones.

Jones said that was a similarity he sees in Hall to last year’s starter David Montgomery, who is now a member of the Chicago Bears backfield.

Iowa State plays Oklahoma State at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Ames.