On Saturday, Iowa State will host conference opponent Oklahoma State in the Cyclones’ homecoming game.
“A team that’s probably got the best group of playmakers we’ve seen to date,” said coach Matt Campbell. “It’ll be a great challenge for our football team.”
Campbell is talking about the Cowboys’ quarterback, wide receiver and most importantly their running back.
Running back Chuba Hubbard has been head and shoulders more productive than any other rusher in the Big 12, and he even paces the nation in most statistics.
The redshirt sophomore from Sherwood Park, Alabama, has lit up virtually every defense he has faced with explosiveness and his 180 yards per game prove that.
Hubbard is averaging a whopping 6.5 yards per carry and he has garnered the most rushes of anyone in the nation — almost 28 per game.
“He’s a great player, you gotta respect him,” said linebacker Mike Rose.
Hubbard will be the toughest ground threat that the Cyclones have faced to this point in the season, but Rose figures to help slow that down, whether he is on the outside or inside.
Rose has switched back and forth between inside and outside linebacker, but middle linebacker O’Rien Vance has had to miss time in two straight games, making Rose’s flexibility once again benefit the Cyclones.
Campbell said that Vance is progressing well and is practicing again this week, so the Cyclones could soon be back to full strength.
On the offensive side of the ball, Iowa State has had minimal injuries and the team is benefitting from a breakthrough at its most puzzling position.
Freshman running back Breece Hall has taken the starting running back job over the last two games thanks to solid performances that have totaled 324 yards and five touchdowns.
“With Breece, you know a talented young guy comes in [and] just makes great effort when he runs the ball,” said senior wide receiver Deshaunte Jones. “I’m proud of that guy.”
Hall and Jones are leading both of their respective fields — rushing and receiving — in touches. Jones has 44 catches on the season which is 18 more than the second-place Charlie Kolar.
Thanks to his last two performances, Hall is leading the team in rushes and yards and he is only second in rushing touchdowns, to his sophomore quarterback Brock Purdy.
Purdy will be facing the team he broke out against last season in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
The Cowboys couldn’t contain Purdy, who led his team to a 48-42 win thanks to five total touchdowns and over 400 total yards.
Purdy has been able to grow this season with a full year of starting and he’s taken a step forward with his consistency.
“He can make pretty much every throw,” Jones said.
For the Cowboys, this will be a revenge game to make up for that loss over a year ago, but this time they will have two guys they didn’t really use last season — Hubbard and redshirt freshman quarterback Spencer Sanders.
Sanders is a dual-threat quarterback who is completing 62.1 percent of his throws for 11 touchdowns. He also has thrown nine interceptions.
On the ground, Sanders has carried the ball 99 times for 457 yards and two touchdowns.
With Sanders at 457 yards and Hubbard at 1265 yards, the Cowboy rushing attack will be a huge focus for Iowa State, but they’ll still have to look for plays out of the air.
Junior wide receiver Tylan Wallace is who rounds out the three top playmakers for Oklahoma State. Wallace is having another solid season in 2019 as he has totaled 772 yards and seven touchdowns. Last season, Wallace had 1491 yards and 12 touchdowns.
The potent offense of the Cowboys will be tough to stop on Saturday, even for a defense as stingy as Iowa State’s.
“The sheer ability that jumps off the film, I mean the receiving core led by one of the most dynamic receivers in college football right now, the running game and then you see this super talented quarterback,” Campbell said. “It’s [as] dynamic as an offense as we’ve faced so far.”