Matt Campbell says to examine Iowa State’s whole season and not just the Drake game
Randy Peterson, firstname.lastname@example.org
AMES, Ia. — It shouldn’t have been like this, Saturday’s Iowa State-Drake game at Jack Trice Stadium — no matter how you spin it.
It was fitting, though, that one of the craziest regular seasons in Cyclones football history ended like it did.
Starting with the South Dakota State cancellation … continuing to when true freshman Brock Purdy became the starting quarterback … and culminating on a day in which it rained, snowed and then rained again.
Somehow Iowa State 27, Non-Scholarship Drake 24 seemed weirdly appropriate, albeit so surprising that you’re actually starting to wonder whether it would have been the Cyclones’ worst loss in school history.
(The answer: Yes, easily.)
Most everyone not wearing Bulldog blue expected an Iowa State blowout. And that includes Vegas, which made Matt Campbell’s team a 42-point favorite.
We knew the difference wasn’t going to be that drastic, especially with the conditions in which the game was played, but we also expected something in the three-touchdown range.
We certainly didn’t expect Iowa State by 6 points at halftime, and Drake by 3 until Deshaunte Jones and quarterback Brock Purdy hooked up on a 7-yard scoring play with 26 seconds left in the third quarter.
We expected something like 35-14, a score that would never have had us researching lists of the biggest college upsets in the past 25 years.
Had the Bulldogs won, it would have been No. 2, in point-spread terms. Right behind Howard being a 45½-point underdog before beating UNLV in 2017.
Alas, it didn’t happen, but that’s still not going to stop people from talking about it.
It didn’t stop reporters from asking about it.
“I didn’t think there was any lack of our kids playing hard,” said Campbell, who rightfully praised Drake up one side and down another. “I thought we had a great week of practice. The kids played hard … I don’t know that we played with great detail.
“Attitude and effort, I’ve never questioned from this group.”
‘LEAVE OUR LEGACY’:Drake loses, but Bulldogs swell with pride
I know the field was slick. I know the ball was slippery. But Iowa State should have beaten Drake by more than three points.
Eighty-five scholarships to none — at least of the athletic variety. Big 12 Conference against the Pioneer Football League.
“They’re a D-I football team,” Iowa State’s star receiver Hakeem Butler said. “Why wouldn’t they be competitive?”
Iowa State’s offensive line wasn’t the greatest. When the 8-4 Cyclones managed to get the offense going, it was because of pace. Then, when they got the ball in the fourth quarter — that pace became a bunch slower, as Iowa State tried to avoid a gigantic, game-losing mistake.
“We tried to be conservative (and) play to our strength … make sure we didn’t put ourselves in bad situations,” Campbell said. “A couple times, we did. I liked way our team fought through it.”
David Montgomery shook off the flu to gain 145 yards while becoming the first Iowa State player to rush for 1,000 in consecutive seasons since 2000 and 2001. Butler became the school’s single-season receiving yards record holder while catching four passes for 67 yards.
After the game, Butler said he didn’t know if he’d return for his junior season. As he did in 2017, he said he’ll get NFL input, and then decide whether he’ll enter the 2019 draft.
Expect Montgomery to do likewise.
“At some point, this place is really going to miss David Montgomery,” Campbell said. “He’s really special. Look at how he’s gotten his yards — woof — tough yards. It’s not been an easy road. There’s not been a veteran offensive line that’s paved the way.
“This guy has done so much of that yardage by himself. He’s really special. He’s a guy that when you need him the most — David’s been there.”
Fans who braved the weather didn’t even know thatthe flu kept Montgomery from practicing Friday. They know he’s a tough guy who Campbell probably would have liked to have rested, yet couldn’t.
“I got hit hard on a couple plays,” Butler said. “I saw David get hit hard.”
Saturday is something fans from both schools will be talking about Monday, and probably even well into next week. The memory of what happened on a truly miserable weather day won’t soon fade.
The big question: Will the close nature of Iowa State’s win resonate with the bowl people?
I texted Alamo Bowl CEO Derrick Fox during the game. I wondered if what happened Saturday would have any repercussions if that bowl decides between, let’s say, Iowa State and West Virginia.
“We’ll wait to see the outcomes of the games and the College Football Playoff poll, and then make our decision once we know all our facts (and) variables.”
My hunch is that Iowa State over West Virginia in October will weigh a whole lot heavier than Iowa State beating Drake by just three points in December.
And so will the Cyclones winning seven of their last eight games, and the Mountaineers entering whatever bowl with a two-game losing streak.
I’m guessing — and again, it’s just a guess — that the bowl deciders will consider what happened in Ames on Saturday as just a blip.
It was another bit of adversity that Campbell’s team overcame.
Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson has been with the Register for parts of five decades. Randy writes opinion and analysis of Iowa State football and basketball. You can reach Randy at email@example.com or on Twitter at @RandyPete.
Source: Des Moines Register