Absolution in Ames: Defense zeroes in on TCU as Iowa State upsets second Top 5 Team in 3 Weeks

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Photo: Reese Strickland/USA Today Sports

AMES, IA — Move over doormat, easy-win Iowa State, the Cyclones have new tenors and a “fat lady” to sing the crescendo.

Texas Christian University sashayed out of the College Football Playoff picture — and possibly a New Year’s Day Bowl — Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium to the sound of thunderous applause.

And a Stephon Pickett-Brown led rendition of Neil Diamond’s “My Caroline.”

The Cyclones knocked off the Associated Press No. 5 Horned Frogs, one of the eight remaining undefeated FBS teams, 14-7, with the help of two red zone and three total turnovers.

More astoundingly, TCU didn’t score it’s first and final touchdown until the 14:48 mark of the second half. The last time it was held scoreless in two quarters of college football was against Arkansas in 2016.


Joseph Nguyen/TexasHSFootball

Kenny Hill, Jr. finished 12-for-25 with 135 yards but threw a drive-stopping interception in the second quarter and another that sealed the upset in the fourth. He also fumbled in the second quarter.

In comparison, Kyle Kempt finished 21-for-35 with 202 yards and two touchdowns, including completing six passes to 6-foot-5 speedster Allen Lazard to the tune of 106 yards. Despite outgaining Iowas State 172-53 in rushing yards and 307-255 in total yards, the Horned Frogs were bested in time of possession (32:21 to 27:39) and penalties (11-104, 4-35).

It may not have been as much of a surprise as the Horned Frogs’ national ranking may have led followers to believe, especially given Iowa State defeated former No. 3 Oklahoma 38-31 on the road in Norman — one of the hardest places to play in college football.

Iowa State, ranked for the first time since 2005, also left the conference without an undefeated team as the CFP committee prepares to unveil its first rankings of the season Tuesday.

The (6-2, 4-1) bowl-eligible Cyclones moved into a four-way tie for first place in the Big 12 with TCU and Oklahoma State — and possibly Oklahoma pending its Saturday matchup — as well as tiebreakers over the Horned Frogs and Sooners. They also won their fourth straight game since Sept. 28.

The Cyclones’ only two losses had came at the hands of in-state rival Iowa and current Big 12 second place power Texas.


Sherry Milliken/Texas HS Football



Even with the empirical data at hand, the aesthetics of the matchup may have told of a different result. Iowa State was facing a TCU team with as much firepower in its coffers as the university had seen in a half-decade and one with a legitimate shot to win a title in the CFB playoff era.

The 48-minute meltdown, though, created the type of season-crippling loss a 94-yard second-half opening kick return by KaVonte Turpin and a key interception by Jeff Gladney — usually warranting a Riff Ram Bah Zoo from alumni — couldn’t soften.

And after Saturday’s tumble, TCU remains in the hunt for the Big 12 Conference Championship, but behind Alabama, Clemson Georgia, Miami, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Wisconsin in the race for the four college playoff berths that will help decide a new or repeat national champion.

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