Iowa State traveled to Morgantown to take on West Virginia in a game that pitted two teams trying to maintain momentum after big wins last week. Considering that both teams hang their hats on defense, no one could have predicted the shootout that the game would turn out to be.
West Virginia, fresh off a big win over TCU in Fort Worth, entered the game having not scored more than 14 points in its last three games against the Cyclones, reached the 14-point mark before the first quarter was over to take a 14-14 tie into the second quarter. Following a WVU sack by Josh Chandler-Semedo of ISU QB Brock Purdy to force an early second quarter ISU punt, WVU took the lead, 17-14, on a Casey Legg field goal after WVU failed to cash-in on first and goal from the 10-yard line.
Iowa State, coming off a huge win at home over Oklahoma State, would knot the score up at 17-all with 18 seconds left in the first half to set the table for the second half after having converted just 1 of 7 on third down.
After Iowa State’s offense was smothered by West Virginia’s defense on the opening drive of the second half, ISU’s Jake Hummel picked WVU QB Jerret Doege off and rumbled in for six to give the Cyclones a 24-17 lead. Doege bounced right back on the ensuing drive, however, going three for three and finding Bryce Ford-Wheaton for a 23-yard TD strike to again knot the score at 24.
Purdy found the endzone on a one-yard run to regain the lead for ISU, 31-24, but West Virginia would again tie the game, 31-31, in the fourth quarter on a fourth-and-three pass from Doege to Winston Wright, Jr., that went 22 yards to paydirt. After forcing ISU to punt on the ensuing drive, WVU would retake the lead, 38-31, with 9:25 to play on a two-yard run by RB Leddie Brown.
Purdy led an inspired drive that included 55 rushing yards to get ISU down the WVU 2-yard line, but a controversial fumble from RB Breece Hall at the goal line gave WVU the ball at 20. Iowa State would have one more chance on 4th and six from the WVU 30, but Purdy’s pass sailed over the crowd in the end zone, and the upset was complete.
Here are three thoughts on West Virginia’s stunning 38-31 upset of Iowa State.
1. WEST VIRGINIA’S TURN-AROUND IS LEGIT
After defeating TCU last week, 29-17, many assumed that West Virginia’s success on offense was due to TCU’s porous defense. The Mountaineers put those thoughts to rest today by notching an enormous win against a team not accustomed to losing games in October. West Virginia’s offense piled 492 yards of total offense against one of the best defenses in the nation, and despite giving up 424 yards of offense to ISU, the Mountaineers defense did its job when it mattered most, holding the Cyclones to just two of 12 on third down.
2. IOWA STATE DREAMS OF CONSECUTIVE BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP GAME APPEARANCES ARE ON LIFE SUPPORT
At 5-3, 3-2, with a loss to Baylor (7-1, 4-1), Iowa State is not out of the Big 12 title race, but it’s probably going to need some help to get to Arlington, and the Cyclones can almost certainly not afford another loss. It’s a disappointing moment for the Cyclones and their fans as the season began with tremendous promise and expectations. What the team does from here will say a lot about ISU’s mental fortitude.
3. THE BIG 12 IS A DEEP, DEEP LEAGUE
While this loss is a blow to the Big 12’s presence in the Top 25, it demonstrates just how loaded the league is. West Virginia showed once again that the Big 12 is not a league in which to trifle. Every team has to show up for every game or upsets and disaster will ensue. Iowa State may have been caught in a letdown following last week’s big win over Oklahoma State, but West Virginia did everything it needed to do to cash in on a big opportunity. Favorites beware: The Big 12 is stacked with dangerous teams.