Isheem Young and Gerry Vaughn

Iowa State's Isheem Young and Gerry Vaughn tackle Oklahoma's Charleston Rambo during the Cyclones and Sooners' game Oct. 3 at Jack Trice Stadium.

After having a week off from Big 12 competition in the form of a bye week following its three game win streak, Iowa State football is back and is preparing for one of its biggest games of the season.

The Cyclones will travel down to Stillwater, Oklahoma, to play the No. 6 ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys, who have had an extended off time with its most recent game with Baylor being postponed to December because of positive COVID-19 cases.

Iowa State Head Coach Matt Campbell and company were able to take a look at the upcoming game against the Cowboys as well as other significant games against them in the past.

A quick flashback to 2018

While the matchup between Iowa State and Oklahoma State has huge implications for the Big 12 Championship in 2020, the 2018 matchup between the Cyclones and the Cowboys may have been even more significant based on where the program went following the game.

In the first quarter of the Oct. 6, 2018, matchup between Iowa State and Oklahoma State, then-freshman quarterback Brock Purdy got his first-ever experience playing at the collegiate level after replacing then-starting quarterback Zeb Noland.

“That week, Coach told me I was going to get in, and I didn’t really overthink it, I just went with it,” Purdy said. “When my opportunity came, I just went out and played football and kept it simple.”

In that first performance, Purdy threw for 318 yards and four touchdowns, as well as rushing for 84 yards and an additional rushing touchdown.

From the first drive that Purdy took over in 2018 to now, he has been a consistent starter under center for Iowa State and has lined himself up as one of the greatest quarterbacks in Iowa State history.

Brock Purdy Oklahoma

Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy rolls out of the pocket to avoid an Oklahoma defender during the game against the Sooners on Oct. 3 at Jack Trice Stadium.

A striking resemblance

The Big 12 Conference is often thought to be the conference where playing defense doesn’t exist and passing the ball is the way to go.

However, in the case of the top teams in the Big 12, that’s not how those teams have found success so far this season. Those teams include the likes of Iowa State and Oklahoma State.

Both teams pride themselves on the ability to run the ball and play great defense against opposing Big 12 teams. These are just two of the ways the Cyclones and the Cowboys are able to match up so similarly.

“The reality of success for both teams early on is their ability to play defense and then have the ability to create a running game,” Campbell said. “Obviously, [Oklahoma State] have a tremendous tailback. We really like Breece [Hall], and he’s growing as a football player.”

One of the biggest similarities between the two teams come in the form of the run game and the two star running backs that are leading the charge.

Oklahoma State is led by former Heisman candidate Chuba Hubbard, who is coming off a season where he rushed for 2,094 yards and 21 touchdowns. Currently this season, Hubbard has recorded 339 yards and four touchdowns through Oklahoma State’s three games.

Iowa State combats this with sophomore running back Breece Hall, who is lining himself up to be an early season Heisman candidate, with 531 yards and eight touchdowns through four games.

On the opposite side of the ball, both teams are being led by veteran players who are in charge of leading two of the top defenses the Big 12 has to offer.

“I think the defensive play is actually hard in this league, and I give a lot of respect to the [defensive] coordinators across the league,” Purdy said.

Breece Hall and Sean Foster Texas Tech

Iowa State sophomore running back Breece Hall celebrates with redshirt senior offensive lineman Sean Foster in the game against Texas Tech on Oct. 10.

Injured players update

Iowa State will be without three key players come Saturday, one of which will be allowed to return in the second half.

Trevor Downing and Tarique Milton will be unavailable for Saturday's showdown between Iowa State and Oklahoma State.

“Seeing [Trevor Downing] go down and what he means to our offensive line room, it’s tough,” redshirt junior offensive lineman Colin Newell said. “But he continues to stay positive, and he’s showing up everyday to film and all of that stuff.”

Campbell mentioned Downing’s return would be more likely to come toward the end of the season, and Milton may be back with the team in the coming weeks.

Following a targeting call that led to a confirmed ejection during the second half of Iowa State’s game against Texas Tech, redshirt freshman defensive back Isheem Young will be forced to sit out during the first half against the Cowboys but will be allowed to return to the field come the second half.

“We’re fortunate that we got a lot of guys that can play, and we’ll just kind of pick up the pieces and continue to move forward,” Campbell said. “Then [we'll] look forward to regaining Isheem in the second half of the game.”

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