MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Iowa State is ready for its November encore.
As if going from two early losses into the national consciousness over the span of a few weeks wasn’t impressive enough, the Cyclones (6-2, 4-1 Big 12, No. 15 CFP) want to keep the momentum going the rest of the season, starting Saturday at West Virginia (5-3, 3-2).
During a 4-0 October, Iowa State beat two top-five teams. The Cyclones overcame the sudden departure of quarterback Jacob Park and got standout defensive efforts in wins over No. 10 TCU and Texas Tech and offensive outbursts against No. 8 Oklahoma and Kansas.
The challenge this month may be just as daunting. The Cyclones play three of their final four games on the road, where they are 3-0 this season.
“They handle the adversity of getting on a plane, getting on a bus, sleeping somewhere different,” said Iowa State coach Matt Campbell. “Our kids have really handled it. You have so many guys that have been through it. As a coaching staff, I just think there’s a sense of calmness when we go on the road. Whether it’s at home or on the road, I don’t see a different mentality in this team.”
Campbell knows that slowing down a prolific offense will require every ounce of focus.
West Virginia’s Will Grier is tied with Missouri’s Drew Lock for the national lead in touchdown passes with 28. David Sills has 15 TD catches, five more than anyone else, while Gary Jennings is fifth with nearly eight receptions per game.
“We’re going to have to do a really good job mixing and matching what we choose to do in this game,” Campbell said. “A great challenge for us defensively, for sure.”
After a home loss to Oklahoma State last week , West Virginia has been relegated mostly to a spoiler roll in the Big 12 race and looks to knock the Cyclones out of a first-place tie with three other teams.
The Mountaineers are also trying to get bowl eligible, and that’s no guarantee. Three of their remaining four opponents have winning records.
“I’m as anxious as anybody to see the determination of our team moving forward,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said.