AMES — Iowa State was very outspoken about its goals for the 2021 football season.
The Cyclones wanted to reach the Big 12 Championship for the second straight season. But instead of losing the game, Iowa State wanted to reverse its fortunes from last season and become Big 12 Champions.
That goal was a very real possibility before the Texas Tech game on Saturday. Iowa State needed to win out and it needed another loss from either Baylor or Oklahoma State.
But then the Texas Tech game happened and Iowa State’s goal for the season ended on a 62-yard field goal and the Red Raiders beat the Cyclones 41-38.
“It’s painful,” quarterback Brock Purdy said, who threw for 356 yards and three touchdowns in the loss. “Our goal that we had from day one moving forward was to get in the Big 12 championship. Thinking about that and it going away, it sucks. This whole season we’ve wanted to be the best versions of ourselves. To be honest, we just haven’t reached it.”
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The Cyclones have struggled on the road this season. Three of Iowa State’s four losses have been away from Jack Trice Stadium and in all three of the road losses, the formula has been the same.
The defense got out to a slow start and the Cyclones dug themselves too big of a hole to get out of.
“This is the third time this year on the road where we’ve failed to play it up to our full potential in the first half,” coach Matt Campbell said. “And it’s got to start with myself and our staff to get our kids there. And obviously, we haven’t been able to do that. So that’s disappointing.”
Before Iowa State’s rise these last couple of years, making any bowl game was a big accomplishment. Now, it’s fair to wonder how Iowa State will respond having to settle for a middle-tier bowl game.
“I don’t know how we’ll respond,” Campbell said. “I think we’ll have to see how we respond. I think that’s the one thing that I really appreciate about our senior class is man, they have had the ability to persevere through hard times and persevere through tough times. And you know what, we’ll see how we handle that.
“But if I know our kids, and I know our senior class, and I know what they’re about, we’ll follow the leaders the rest of the way just like we have since the start of fall camp. I have complete faith in those guys.”
Even though it is a bitter disappointment for the Cyclone players, senior linebacker Jake Hummel is ready to go back to work.
“You talk about our goals from the beginning of the season to be at the Big 12 Championship game, and that’s kind of out the window at this point,” Hummel said. “That’s obviously a huge disappointment within our team. That was our expectation, and we didn’t meet that expectation.
“But nothing changes, though. I’m going to play for this team. I love those guys. I love them more than anything. I’m just going to keep going back to work. That’s all I know what to do.”