The numbers weren't in Iowa State's favor heading into halftime Saturday against Baylor.
Iowa State's offense had three turnovers, 56 passing yards and 10 points. Baylor was sitting pretty, scoring three touchdowns off of the giveaways from Iowa State and had easy work on offense with Charlie Brewer going 8-11 for two scores.
But by the time the clock stopped and the game was over, it was Iowa State who came out on top in a 38-31 victory.
So how did Iowa State manage to mount a comeback and end the game sitting 5-1 in Big 12 play?
"It's about buy-in, it's about a refuse-to-lose mentality," Head Coach Matt Campbell said.
Mike Rose continues to make plays
If there's one word Campbell uses to describe some of Iowa State's most dependable players, it would be consistency.
For a program that has lacked consistent performances and consistent playmaking for years, Iowa State has been the beneficiary of a linebacker who has stepped up time and time again for Iowa State.
On Saturday, Mike Rose showed once again how big his impact has been on Iowa State's 2020 success.
Rose finished and tied a career high with 11 tackles — his fourth game with 10 or more tackles — and a game-sealing interception of Brewer with less than a minute left. It was Rose's third interception of the year.
AND THAT’S THE BALLGAME 🌪🚨🌪 pic.twitter.com/3dLSccaiAs— Cyclone Football (@CycloneFB) November 8, 2020
Campbell said he felt like he was on repeat after the win Saturday because praising Rose's play week after week has become a weekly tradition.
But the play from Rose this season has been worth the talk according to Campbell and has even given Rose a chance to show how good he is for the college football world to see.
“For me, what Mike Rose is doing is playing at such an elite level that he’s demanding that the country and the world look at him and say ‘man, this guy’s one of the best defensive football players in college football,'" Campbell said.
Campbell said Rose has earned the chance to make big plays and create momentum swings in big games because of the work he put in during the offseason. Rose trained every day even with the college football season in a standstill and it was a sign for Campbell that Rose is always looking to put the dagger in the other team's heart.
“I think everything Mike Rose does is killer instinct to be honest with you," Campbell said.
The first half wasn't Purdy
As much as it is used as a cliché in football, it was a tale of two halves for quarterback Brock Purdy on Saturday night.
And it started on his second pass of the night.
The junior quarterback's first deep shot of the night was intercepted by Kalon Barnes, who had a cast/club on one of his hands no less. Then down in the red zone, Purdy threw his first career red zone interception after an inaccurate throw to Chase Allen that was tipped in the air for Baylor to snatch up.
The turnovers weren't over for Purdy just yet, as he gave away a pick six to Baylor with just over seven minutes left in the first half to put the Bears up 21-7.
Purdy walked into halftime with 56 passing yards and three interceptions.
“Some of the guys that made some mistakes tonight are guys that you trust and you know they’re going to come right back and you’re going to get their best and obviously they proved it again tonight," Campbell said.
Brock Purdy gift-six🎁 pic.twitter.com/6DL7EVepvC— PFF College (@PFF_College) November 8, 2020
Campbell told Purdy not to panic after the pick six to end the first half and that things will go the Cyclones' way in the second half.
Purdy took the message to heart and said he started to stay present and poised for his team down the stretch. Purdy said he forced too many throws and couldn't get away with it against the Baylor defense.
“You play four quarters for a reason, it’s not all just gonna be determined in one quarter or one possession," Purdy said.
Purdy then led the Iowa State offense to four straight touchdown drives to take the lead and find the groove it was looking for on offense.
Trusted tight ends
After Greg Eisworth muffed Iowa State's first chance on offense away in the second half and Baylor kicked a field goal to go up 24-10, Iowa State needed an answer.
Kene Nwangwu returned the kickoff for 69 yards, setting up Iowa State's offense for some glimmer of hope.
And on the ensuing drive for Iowa State, the answer came in one of the most trusted and most used position groups Iowa State has: tight ends.
After struggling the entire first half, Purdy connected on two throws on Iowa State's first of four touchdown drives to Dylan Soehner and Charlie Kolar. Kolar would score a touchdown on the drive to bring Iowa State back in the game 24-17.
Purdy finished with 165 passing yards, 82 of which came from the tight end group.
Record Breaker🌪🚨🌪 pic.twitter.com/x4iEhbyy8X— Cyclone Football (@CycloneFB) November 8, 2020
Kolar ended with three catches for 45 yards and a touchdown. Soehner ended with two catches for 22 yards and Chase Allen caught two balls for 15 yards and a touchdown.
Over the last four games for Iowa State, the tight ends have hauled in 29 receptions for 351 yards and five touchdowns.