NORMAN, Okla. Lets say Iowa State comes down to a last-second situation in which it scores a touchdown to pull within a point when Texas comes calling on Jack Trice Stadium next Saturday. If you think Matt Campbells guys are going for the tie and subsequent overtime risk, you can probably forget it.
His job is to win games in regulation, not play for overtime after his guys played their hearts out to claw back after a 21-point deficit in the third quarter against the nations No. 9-ranked team.
Long after explaining to reporters a couple of times the two-point conversion attempt against Oklahoma that almost turned a three-touchdown shellacking into a Cyclones victory, I asked Campbell how many times out of how many hed do it all over again how many times hed gofor two in the final ticks of a game instead of being satisfied with going into an extra session of two.
A hundred out of 100, he said without hesitation. Maybe more.
Good for Matt. Most every coach worth his millions would have done what Campbell did during what was Iowa States 42-41 loss at the Sooners sold-out stadium. They would have gone for two points and the road win, too, momentum being on their side and everything.
It was the right callI dont care how many Sunday morning coaches among you might be second-guessing it. Again, it was the right call. It just didnt work, Brock Purdys pass to LaMichael Pettway being interceptedand the Sooners escaping with a hold-their-breath win.
It was the right thing to do. Right play-call, too. It was the call everyone expected to be made.
Momentum was on the Cyclones side after rallying from three 21-point stickings, the last one being 42-21 with 3:47 left in the third quarter. Campbells gritty, never-give-up guys had driven 35 yards in eight plays after Lawrence White finally held onto an interception that gave the ball to Iowa State at the Oklahoma 35-yard line with 2:43 left in the game.
A Purdy 13-yard pass to Charlie Kolar pulled the Cyclones to within a point with 24 seconds to play. Campbell didnt even flinch at the next call to go for the win.
Id do it again in a heartbeat, Campbell said. In. A. Heartbeat.
In hindsight, Purdy said he heard that Kolar was open, but put yourself in his situation. He was being pressured. He was hit as soon as he released the ball. He had to trust what he quickly saw.
Again, it was good, sound strategy. On this occasion, it didnt work.But it shows how much confidence Campbell has in his guys which means a lot with three regular-season games remaining.
Offensively, in the fourth quarter, we started clicking really well, Purdy said. If we can keep thatand keep it rolling the rest of the season, starting next weekthatd be really key to the success of the team. You have to put points on the board.
Not one point, but two on this occasion. No settling for overtime, when a victory is just three yards away.
And about that pass interference non-call people say happened (or didnt happen) I dont know. Campbell said he wasnt banking on something like that being called.
Maybe deep down, he feels differently. I dont know.
More: Matt Campbell on whether Oklahoma should have been flagged for pass interference: 'No.'
And as for Kolar being open on the play, put yourself in Purdys situationyoud get rid of the ball quickly, too.
I understand Charlie ended up opening up, so thats on me, Purdy said. I have to anticipate that better.
Three dropped interceptions and a plethora of missed tackles later...
Iowa State dang near pulled off another epic win in Norman.
The Cyclones wonderful fourth quarter included outscoring the highest-scoring team in the country 21-zip, and out-gaining them 142 yards to 25 yards while running 25 plays to the Sooners 10.
Thats something from which Iowa State can build if it learns from the sketchy stuff that happened during Saturdays first half.
Hold onto interceptions three to be exact. Dont whiff on tackles of which there were many. No more stupid penalties, of which there were a bunch among the 11 called against the second-least penalized team in the nation. No more 21-point deficit.
No more needing a last-second two-point conversion.
From now throughout the rest of the season, Iowa States mindset should be that if it can keep the highest-scoring team in the country out of the end zone for the games final 18 minutes, nothing should be insurmountable.
Not Texas on Saturday, or Kansas after that. Not Kansas State at the end of the regular season, either.
Like Campbell enthusiastically reminded his determined team late Saturday night...
Theres still a lot of the season remaining.
He's right about that, too.
Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson has been writingfor the Des Moines Register for parts of five decades. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, 515-284-8132, and on Twitter at @RandyPete. No one covers the Cyclones like the Register. Subscribe today at Des Moines Register.com/Deal to make sure you never miss a moment.