No. 13 Iowa State is one step closer to its first Big 12 title.
The Cyclones trailed No. 17 Texas for almost the entire game on Friday in Austin, but Brock Purdy and Breece Hall led the ISU offense for the go-ahead touchdown when it mattered in a dramatic 23-20 win.
Iowa State trailed 20-16 with 3:09 to play, but Purdy engineered a game-winning touchdown drive in the final minutes to essentially guarantee a spot in the Big 12 title game for the Cyclones. Iowa State has never won a Big 12 title, and has not won a conference title of any kind since 1912. That was when it was a member of the former Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association, which later evolved into the Big Eight.
To give his team the lead, Purdy connected on passes of 22 and 17 yards, enabling Hall, ISU’s Heisman candidate running back, to finish it off with a three-yard burst with 1:25 to play.
That Hall touchdown put the ball back in the hands of Sam Ehlinger, Texas’ senior quarterback playing his final game at Darrell K Royal Stadium. But there would be no Senior Day heroics for the Longhorns.
Ehlinger moved the offense into Iowa State territory, but took an ill-advised sack as the clock ticked inside 10 seconds. Ehlinger’s decision to hold onto the ball was costly as Cameron Dicker’s attempt at a game-tying field goal was pushed back to 57 yards.
Dicker has a big leg and hit from 57 earlier in his career, but he couldn’t do it again. Dicker’s attempt had the distance, but sailed left to seal a massive victory for Iowa State.
Texas led for most of the game
With senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger leading the way as both a passer and runner, Texas jumped out to a 10-0 lead halfway through the first quarter. But Iowa State always stayed within striking distance.
The Texas lead was just 13-10 going into halftime, and the Longhorns were up 20-16 for most of the fourth quarter.
Texas had multiple chances to extend its lead, but failed twice on fourth down — once on a fake punt and again on an Ehlinger QB keeper from the Iowa State 13. The fake punt led to an Iowa State field goal that cut Texas’ lead to 20-16.
On the ensuing drive, Ehlinger led the Longhorns deep into ISU territory on a drive that took nearly seven minutes off the clock. In the red zone, though, Texas coach Tom Herman was faced with a decision. On fourth-and-1 from the ISU 13, Herman could either take the chip shot field goal to go up by seven, or keep the offense on the field with the hopes of going up 10.
Herman chose the latter, and it backfired. Ehlinger has been prolific at moving the chains with his legs throughout his career. This time, he was tripped up short of the line to gain, giving the ball back to ISU.
The Cyclones wouldn’t go ahead on the ensuing drive, and instead punted it back to Texas. The ISU defense then forced a three-and-out to put the offense in position to go ahead for good.
Updated Big 12 title game picture
As the only team in the Big 12 with just one conference loss, the Cyclones are pretty much a lock for a spot in the Big 12 championship game. Iowa State can lock up a place in the title game by beating West Virginia in its regular-season finale next Saturday. A loss by Oklahoma will also send ISU to the title game.
Texas, with the loss, is in a rough spot. The Longhorns now are 4-3 in Big 12 play with losses to both Iowa State and Oklahoma, though they do have the edge over Oklahoma State in tiebreaker scenarios. UT has two road games left on its schedule against Kansas State and Kansas, but its title game chances are remote.
Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are the two two-loss teams in the conference, and the Sooners hold that tiebreaker advantage, thanks to a blowout win over the Cowboys last week.
Oklahoma had its game this weekend against West Virginia postponed due to OU’s issues with COVID-19. The Sooners are scheduled to return to the field next Saturday against Baylor before traveling to WVU on Dec. 12. Oklahoma State hosts Texas Tech on Saturday and still has road games against TCU and Baylor on the schedule.
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