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Cyclones roll through Red Raiders

AP PHOTO - Iowa State running back Breece Hall (28) runs from Texas Tech linebacker Krishon Merriweather (1) during the first half of a Big 12 Conference football game Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames.

AMES — Iowa State had a chance Saturday to cement itself as a Big 12 Championship contender, if not a favorite for an appearance in the title game, as Oklahoma and Texas continued to wobble and play the part of mediocre teams instead of serial winners.

The No. 24 Cyclones delivered with a controlled display and a 31-15 win over the Texas Tech Red Raiders in Jack Trice Stadium. Breece Hall again showed why he is the engine of Iowa State’s offense this year, the Cyclones had a much better defensive performance and what’s next for the Big 12 co-leaders.

BREECE HALL: GOOD

Brock Purdy was strong Saturday and threw for 302 yards and two touchdowns, his most complete performance of the year. Charlie Kolar caught a touchdown and Xavier Hutchinson continued his ascent to Purdy’s No. 1 non-tight end option.

But Hall’s continued leap into a high-level running back was the offensive story of the game against the Red Raiders.

The sophomore had 135 yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns — the fourth straight game with 100-plus yards for Hall. He is the leading rusher in the Big 12 ahead of Chuba Hubbard and had eight touchdowns through four games. The running back is footwork not seen in an Iowa State running back since David Montgomery in 2018.

As Hall goes, so will the Cyclones in this strangest of seasons. If Purdy and Hall get going consistently, then the offense that was stagnant and short on ideas against Louisiana can now be something that sets the Cyclones apart in conference play.

DEALING WITH INJURIES

The win for Iowa State was not without its problems, though, as wide receiver Tarique Milton and offensive lineman Trevor Downing missed the game with injuries. Coach Matt Campbell said Milton will miss more time with a shoulder injury and Downing will miss time as well. Campbell said he hopes to get Downing back on the field before the end of the year.

Right tackle Joey Ramos left the game with an injury, and Campbell did not provide an update on his status for the rest of the season.

This will test Iowa State’s depth, particularly on an offensive line that has not been a strength at all during Campbell’s tenure.

Campbell pointed to Jake Remsburg as a player who could step up in the meantime.

“His work ethic, his consistency, Jake’s gonna have a chance to be a really special player here,” Campbell said. “And we’re really, really excited about what his future is. And I thought he did a great job responding today.”

DEFENSIVE PROGRESS

After giving up 31, 34 and 30 points in their first three games, Iowa State held Texas Tech to 15 points — with the final touchdown coming in garbage time and the score already 31-7.

Tech had 270 total yards and only 58 on the ground, throwing for 115 yards with backup quarterback Henry Colombi in the fourth quarter.

Campbell praised the rushing corps’ work in keeping Tech in passing situations.

“It starts with having the opportunity to defend the run. That has always been something that’s been of the utmost importance to us. I thought they did a great job of that today. I think in its holistic matter, we played really complimentary football today and I think that shows up a little bit in the time of possession.”

The Cyclones have had an up-and-down start to the year on this side of the ball, and in an offense-first conference that increasingly is up for grabs, Iowa State re-asserting its prior status as one of the league’s top defensive units would do wonders to help its bid for conference glory.

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