Cyclones upset No. 19 Kansas State in unbelievable offensive battle

Iowa State v Kansas State

Photo: Peter Aiken / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

Despite being a double-digit underdog on the road against the No. 19 Kansas State Wildcats (8-4, 6-3 Big 12), traveling without their two rushing leaders, and four inches of snow could not slow down the Iowa State Cyclones (7-5, 6-3). Riding on the back of their true freshman running back Abu Sama, the Cyclones upset the Wildcats 42-35 snapping Kansas State’s home winning streak of seven on Saturday night. With such a young team showing they can battle through adversity all year long and roll with the punches, the future looks nothing short of promising for coach Matt Campbell and the Cyclones.

Here is how Iowa State took down the Wildcats in the 107th “Farmageddon”.

SAMA writes his name in the history books

Local fans have been excited to see Abu Sama get a starting chance with the Cyclones ever since he committed after scoring 6 touchdowns for Southeast Polk High School in last year's state title game. An hour or so before halftime Cyclone fans got word that Cartevious Norton and Eli Sanders (who leads the team in rushing yards) did not make the trip to Manhattan. With the weather conditions as poorly as they were it was clear both teams would rely on the run game. Sama took that challenge and ran with it…literally.

On the first play of the game, Sama busted out kicking into a different gear and going all the way for a 71-yard touchdown. A few weeks ago, at BYU Sama showed just what he could do if he got into open space running for 110 yards and two touchdowns, little did we all know that was him scratching the surface.

Up 7-6 going into the second quarter the Iowa State offense gave it to Sama once more and yet again it was like Kansas State forgot they could not just shoulder-check him to the ground as he extended the Cyclones lead to 14-6 with a 77-yard touchdown. Sama became the first player to have two rushing touchdowns of 70+ yards in a single game since Adrian Peterson in 2005. His night was not done there.

Sama would complete the hat trick breaking out for a 60-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter to tie the game up at 28. Finishing the night with 16 carries for 276 yards and three touchdowns, Sama put his name in good company recording fourth most rushing yards in a single game in Iowa State history behind Troy Davis’ 291-yard game vs Ohio in 1995.

It has been hinted that the reason Norton and Sanders did not participate in the game was due to them planning to transfer. While the status is still unsure one thing is for certain. The Cyclones have found their star running back for the years to come.

Answered back and did it fast 

At the half, Iowa State found themselves down 20-14, and while Sama was carrying the offense it was apparent that Kansas State had the upper hand with a more balanced offensive attack. Becoming one-dimensional was a true concern heading into the second half. Wildcat quarterback Will Howard threw for 119 yards in the continuous falling snow while Rocco Becht could only muster up 10 yards in the air. As he has done all year long, Campbell made the necessary halftime adjustments.

After the defense forced a three and out, Becht went to the air on the second of their first drive and connected with Jaylin Noel for an 82-yard touchdown. It looked identical to the touchdown reception the two connected on in Oklahoma nearly two months ago. That one passing touchdown unleashed a chain reaction as the Cyclones would go on to score four straight touchdowns.

Down 35-28, Becht fired off his best throw of the night to arguably the most athletic receiver on the team as he found Jaylin Higgins 33 yards downfield in the corner of the endzone for his second passing touchdown of the night. Becht joined running back Sama with a hat trick of his own, with great help from Noel, on a dump pass that appeared to be nothing more than a first down turned into a wild display of speed and balance from the captain receiver. Noel escaped unscathed for 82 yards ultimately sealing the deal for the Cyclones. Becht ended his night completing 8 of his 12 passes for 230 yards and 3 touchdowns.

What was impressive was Iowa State’s ability to respond to everything the Wildcats threw at them and do it with a speed I have never seen. Kansas State finished the game running 102 total plays (48 passes and 54 rushing attempts) controlling most of the clock with 42:12 time of possession with the ball. Iowa State ran 35 total plays (12 passes and 23 rushes) for an average time of possession of 1:19.

What’s next? 

While Iowa State will not play in the Big 12 Conference Championship, they still have made an incredible leap from only winning one conference game a year ago and being picked to finish 10th in the preseason to winning six conference games. The Cyclones also won four straight conference road games for the first time in school history. A more intriguing bowl game matchup should be on the horizon for this team after an exciting upset but we will not know until next Sunday.

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