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The season-changing switch: Brock Purdy's initial spark against Oklahoma State

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Teammates celebrate a touchdown made by Brock Purdy at the Alamo Bowl game Dec. 28. The Cyclones fell to the Cougars 28-26.

Freshman quarterback Brock Purdy thrived in pressured situations this season. He shredded most of the Big 12 defense through the air and on the ground.

He received high praise from teammates like David Montgomery and Hakeem Butler, as well as compliments from coach Matt Campbell throughout the season.

"I think for a young guy, understanding the system and really working hard off the field to be able to know what to do in critical moments, critical detail, be able to execute, I think that's a lot of his maturity off the field that's allowed him to have that kind of success," Campbell said before the Valero Alamo Bowl.

But, before he nearly pushed the Cyclones for a spot in the Big 12 Championship, or led the team to a bowl game, the freshman had to survive Oklahoma State.

The Debut

A reeling 1-3 Iowa State football team competed against a 3-1 Oklahoma State team in Stillwater, Oklahoma, on Oct. 6, 2018.

The Cyclones came out flat when a Zeb Noland-led drive lasted three plays and tallied negative-three yards. The rough start turned worse after a five-play, 70-yard drive from the Cowboys, resulting in a touchdown.

After struggling the previous week against Texas Christian, Noland sat for the next drive. Campbell inserted Purdy into the offense.

“The Oklahoma State game, coach told me going into that, just be ready,” Purdy said. “When that second series came, it was go time from there.”

The next drive resulted in another three-and-out. Purdy received one opportunity to make a play, rushing for seven yards on third-and-8.

The Cyclone defense capitalized on a fourth down mistake, earning a safety and putting the ball back in Purdy’s hands.

Purdy’s second chance showcased more of the offense. Purdy went 3-for-3 with a touchdown while running for a dozen yards.

After a rebound on the second drive, Campbell stuck with the freshman.

“Honestly, coach just told me that second series I’d probably have it, and however I did from then was how the game was going to go,” Purdy said.

Iowa State’s offense exploded under Purdy’s guidance, dropping three more touchdowns on the Cowboy defense and delivering a 30-21 halftime lead.

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Freshman quarterback Brock Purdy runs the ball for a touchdown during the first half of the Iowa State vs Baylor football game Nov. 10.

Purdy quickly cemented himself as a quality player for Iowa State. Building up to the game, though, he wasn’t 100 percent sure how much of a role he’d play, but he had a hunch he’d see the field.

“It was just special because coach told me to get ready and stuff, so I had an idea that I was going in,” Purdy said. “It was my childhood dream to play Power 5 college football, and to know that I was going in the next day was special. At the same time, I didn’t put any more pressure on me than what was needed, so I just kept it simple and played football.”

Purdy managed to keep up the strong performance in the second half, helping tack on 18 more points in the 48-42 win for the Cyclones.

On the other side of the ball, freshman linebacker Mike Rose played in the fifth game of his standout season. The quarterback and linebacker sat next to each other on the way to Oklahoma State.

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Quarterback Brock Purdy runs the ball during the first half of the ISU vs WV Game Oct. 13.

“He asked me if I’d see the field and stuff like that,” Purdy said about Rose. “I just said possibly because I never knew the exact answer to that.”

Rose had his question answered after 402 total yards and five touchdowns from Purdy.

On the trip back to Ames, Iowa, the Cyclones’ record had changed to 2-3 and the team added its first Big 12 win of the year, but one thing remained the same.

“Same guy,” said freshman linebacker Mike Rose about Purdy after the game. “We flew back on the plane together, sat next to each other — same guy who flew with me there.”

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