Posted on October 29, 2017, by Travis Pulver
The Big 12 added a championship game this season in hopes of increasing the chances it could get a team into the CFB Playoffs this season. Every team likely entered the season thinking they could be the one. But in reality, there were only a few teams that truly had a shot, Oklahoma, TCU, and Oklahoma State.
As of Saturday afternoon, Iowa State has defeated two of them—and with a backup quarterback.
Kyle Kempt completed 21 of 35 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns along with an interception. The defense shut down Kenny Hill, and the Cyclones pulled off their second win over a top-five team this season.
Kempt did most of his damage in the first half with a touchdown pass in the first and second quarter. However, he and the offense struggled to move the ball in the second half. But luckily, the defense was more than capable of picking up the slack.
“They really believe in each other,” Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell said (ESPN). “The first half, the offense at times picked the defense up, and in the second half the defense picked the offense up. Good teams do that.”
TCU looked like it might threaten to take over the game in the second half when they opened it with a 94-yard kick return for a touchdown by KaVontae Turpin. Later in the quarter, Hill appeared poised and ready to tie the game up after the defense gave him the ball on a short field. But on 3rd and six from the seven-yard line, he threw an interception.
Hill wouldn’t get the offense within striking range again until midway through the fourth quarter. But then the Iowa State defense sacked Hill causing him to fumble. Iowa State recovered on the 15-yard line.
The defense locked the game up in the final seconds with another interception off Hill, this one by Marcel Spears Jr. The final score– TCU 7 Iowa State 14.
“We had a formula: not turning the ball over and beat people at their own game. We did not do that,” TCU head coach Gary Patterson said (ESPN).
Hill had only one interception to his name before Saturday’ game. The lost fumble was his first of the season.
With the win, Iowa State becomes bowl eligible for the first time in five seasons. That was likely a goal when the season started. But the Cyclones are setting their sights on the Big 12 Championship. But the road will be a tough one with games against West Virginia and Oklahoma State.
Should they pull out the upset win over Oklahoma State, they will have defeated the Big 12’s best three candidates for the CFB Playoffs. Even if either of the three does go on to win the conference, their loss to Iowa State will likely be enough to keep them from making the top four.
With two losses on their record, even if they run the table, Iowa State will not make the top four. So, thanks to the over-achieving Cyclones, the Big 12 will probably not make the CFB Playoffs once again.