After experiencing the highest of highs, it’s best to avoid crashing back down to Earth, especially if you're Iowa State and you want to stay in Big 12 title contention.
The No. 24 ranked Iowa State Cyclones pulled off a big upset win over the then-ranked No. 18 Oklahoma Sooners at Jack Trice Stadium on Oct. 3 and now prepares to stay levelheaded as it hosts the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Saturday.
The upset win over Oklahoma saw the Cyclones score three touchdowns at the tail end of the third quarter and throughout the fourth quarter, including 14 unanswered points, to knock the usual Big 12 favorite out of the top 25 rankings.
After pulling off an upset like this, it’s important for the Cyclones to remain levelheaded and not have a sense of overconfidence, especially during conference play.
“We all relished the moment and we enjoyed it all together,” said junior wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson. “We have great leaders on our team who remind us that this is a new week and this is a new opportunity against a really good opponent.”
Texas Tech is a team Iowa State can’t afford to undersell come Saturday.
Despite starting the season 1-2 with both losses coming from the hands of Big 12 teams and not having beat the Cyclones since the 2015 season, the Red Raiders pose a viable threat to Iowa State and its hunt for the Big 12 Championship.
This is the second week in a row Texas Tech is facing a team that managed to knock Oklahoma off the top of the Big 12 hill, as the Red Raiders lost to Kansas State in Manhattan, Kansas, in a 31-21 effort on Oct. 3.
Before that, Texas Tech almost managed a monumental win of their own against another Big 12 title hopeful in the Texas Longhorns.
Texas Tech lined itself up to knock off the Longhorns in Lubbock, Texas, but a late-game push that featured Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger throwing for two touchdowns within the final three minutes to send the game into overtime, where the Longhorns claimed victory.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for number one this Texas Tech team, but I got a lot of respect for [Texas Tech Head Coach] Matt Wells as well,” said Iowa State Head Coach Matt Campbell. “You can see them on the brink of excellence.”
One question mark for the Cyclones will have to wait to get answered is who will be at the helm of the Red Raiders’ offense come Saturday. During Texas Tech’s game against Kansas State, usual starter at quarterback Alan Bowman went down with an ankle injury in the first quarter.
The Red Raiders turned to junior Henry Colombi to take over under center and finished the game with 30 completions on 42 attempts for 244 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
But for Campbell and company, the real focus of the offense lies with the run game that helps the Red Raiders' pass game shine.
“That’s the one thing when you’re playing this Texas Tech team is they do such a great job running the football that they really allow the efficiency of the quarterbacks to show through,” Campbell said.
That Texas Tech run game is spearheaded by the sophomore duo of SaRodorick Thompson and Xavier White.
Thompson recorded 118 rushing yards and two touchdowns in Texas Tech’s season opener against Houston Baptist and followed that performance with 104 rushing yards and another two touchdowns against Texas.
White emerged for the Red Raiders in the Kansas State loss, putting up 113 rushing yards and a touchdown of his own.
Iowa State will counteract this with a strong run game of its own, in large part thanks to sophomore running back Breece Hall.
Through three games this season for Iowa State, Hall has recorded nearly 400 rushing yards and six touchdowns, including a 139-yard and two touchdown performance in the most recent game against Oklahoma.
Kickoff between Iowa State and Texas Tech will begin at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at MidAmerican Energy Field at Jack Trice Stadium and the game will be televised on ABC.