Coming into the 2019 season, Iowa State had some lofty expectations after two straight winning seasons. The defense wasn't losing much, the offense was led by one of the better players in program history in only his sophomore year and at the helm was a coach who had completely upended the program into a Big 12 contender.
Knowing this, a 7-5 record wasn't exactly what Iowa State was looking for, but the Cyclones got a bump from the bowl committee due to competitiveness and close losses, so they'll be taking on one of the most storied programs in NCAA history in Notre Dame.
In the making of the season, Iowa State had some ugly losses and some solid wins.
12. 27-17 loss at Kansas State on Nov. 30
Besides this being the only game the Cyclones lost that was decided by more than one score, the Cyclones just looked like a defeated team in this game. Iowa State played sloppy and threw numerous chances away after climbing back into it.
The Wildcats gained 250 yards on the ground against the top-rated rushing defense in the Big 12 and Cyclone quarterback Brock Purdy completed only 50 percent of his passes for 185 yards and a touchdown.
That's not a recipe for success.
11. 34-27 loss vs. Oklahoma State on Oct. 26
The Homecoming game was one that the Cyclone probably wish they had back. With the game being tied for much of the game, it looked like the Cyclones would finally get a chance to be the team dishing out heartbreakers, but Brock Purdy threw a pick-six and then two more interceptions on his final three drives of the game.
The Cowboys capitalized on one the mistakes from the sophomore quarterback and behind Chuba Hubbard's excellent day, Oklahoma State took the game by seven.
10. 29-26 win vs. Northern Iowa on Aug. 31
Okay, there are still three more losses to talk about, but those happened to three solid teams and were only decided by a combined four points. The third worst Iowa State game of the year was not a loss — but it came close.
The Cyclones started their season in an ugly, low-scoring showdown with the Panthers that needed three overtimes to finish. In the waning moments of the game, senior Sheldon Croney took a handoff near the goal line down by three and fumbled the football.
Purdy dove onto the ball, saving the fumble and potentially Iowa State's season. Croney punched it in one play later for a walk-off touchdown.
9. 18-17 loss vs. Iowa on Sept. 14
The Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk series was pretty similar to Iowa State's game against Northern Iowa. Mistakes on offense for both sides led to a down-to-the-wire game after hours of weather delays and a visit from College Gameday.
The game ultimately ended when Datrone Young ran into punt returner Deshaunte Jones causing a fumble and an Iowa recovery, dispelling any last gasp that Iowa State could muster.
Coach Matt Campbell stayed winless against the in-state rivals.
8. 23-21 loss at Baylor on Sept. 28
With the season coming to an end and knowing how good Baylor was, this loss aged pretty well for the Cyclones, but this game — much like the Kansas State game — was an ugly one on offense.
Sophomore running back Johnnie Lang and Purdy provided the second half offense that was necessary to make this game close, but a last second field goal by Baylor's John Mayers kept the Bears undefeated.
7. 41-31 win vs. Kansas on Nov. 23
The Cyclones won by 10 at home on senior night, but they made it closer than they probably would've liked.
The Jayhawks — the Big 12's worst team in 2019 — put up quite the fight against the Cyclones with running back Pooka Williams gaining 164 yards on only 19 carries for Kansas.
Iowa State lost the lead in the fourth quarter in this game, but a late surge gave the Cyclones their 7th win.
6. 34-24 win at Texas Tech
Make no mistake, this was a good game for the Cyclones. Texas Tech was not a great team this year, but they were far from a walk in the park — especially in Lubbock.
Iowa State took care of the Red Raiders without it getting too close at any point behind 187 rushing yards and two touchdowns from freshman Breece Hall and three more scores from Purdy through the air.
5. 72-20 win vs. Louisiana-Monroe on Sept. 21
The Cyclones took two frustrating offensive performances into their third game against Louisiana-Monroe. The Cyclones flipped that production around and nuked the Warhawks for 45 second half points, behind a historic performance form Purdy.
Purdy notched three scores through the air, and three more on the ground while accumulating 515 yards of total offense — 435 through the air and 80 on the ground.
Sophomore Tarique Milton gained 142 yards on only three catches during the game as Iowa State's leading receiver.
4. 38-14 win at West Virginia on Oct. 12
West Virginia was greeted with an onslaught from a new face that Cyclone fans will get used to in the coming years. The Mountaineers were unfortunate enough to witness the emergence of the freshman running back Hall, who got the start seemingly out of nowhere.
That emergence came in the form of 137 yards and three touchdowns. Hall would never look back.
The freshman kept his job at running back for the remainder of the season for Iowa State.
3. 49-24 win vs. TCU on Oct. 5
In what might've been Iowa State's most impressive overall performance, the Cyclones obliterated TCU to start October.
Purdy had another solid game from everywhere, with two of his four touchdowns coming on passes and two as a runner. Lang added two rushing scores of his own.
Iowa State held TCU's Darius Anderson to only 53 yards on 11 carries while also limiting the rest of the offense.
2. 42-41 loss at Oklahoma on Nov. 9
In the return to Norman, Oklahoma, where Kyle Kempt had shocked the nation just two seasons ago, the Cyclones and Sooners gave the world a game for the ages.
With three missed interceptions in the first half, Iowa State was left with a huge deficit as Oklahoma capitalized on those gifted chances.
The second half was a different story.
Iowa State started its comeback and after trailing 42-21 to start the fourth quarter, Iowa State used some key big plays and a turnover on an ill-advised pass to give the underdogs a chance to beat the Sooners on their home turf.
A touchdown made it a one point game with only seconds remaining and the Cyclones made the decision to go for two. The attempt came up short and Oklahoma hung on for the one-point victory.
Purdy scored every Cyclone touchdown — five passing and one rushing — with his best play coming down the stretch against the perennial powerhouse.
1. 23-21 win vs. Texas on Nov. 16
Iowa State's best game of the season was almost a loss.
After losing the lead in the fourth quarter and another close game possibly slipping through their fingers, the Cyclones mounted a final drive — aided by an offsides penalty — giving them the win behind the leg of Connor Assalley.
The Cyclones lined up for a longer field goal earlier on the drive that Brayden Narveson missed, but an offside penalty gave the Cyclones a first down and the chance to run the clock down with a closer look.
Assalley nailed the redo attempt and the Cyclones beat a team that has had their number for a long time.
Most of all, Iowa State could finally point to a close game that actually went its way.