CollegeFootballTalk

Associated Press

No. 15 Iowa State sees Big 12 title hopes upended in loss at West Virginia

No. 15 Iowa State found itself in a deep hole early and nearly climbed all the way out of it before ultimately falling 20-16 at West Virginia.

West Virginia was on its way to put an emphatic end to Iowa State’s miracle run after the Mountaineers jumped out to a 20-0 lead midway through the second quarter, thanks to a touchdown connection from Will Grier to David Sills, a 55-yard snatch-and-dash by Ka’Raun White and a pair of Evan Staley field goals.

But Iowa State wrapped a tourniquet around the bleeding and began clawing its way back. A 42-yard Garrett Owens field goal with 1:46 left before half got the Cyclones on the board. A 1-yard toss from Kyle Kempt (27-of-40 for 249 yards) to Allen Lazard on third-and-goal, completing a 10-play, 86-yard drive, pulled Iowa State within 10 early in the third quarter. An 18-yard Owens chip shot pulled Iowa State within one score late in the third, and the Cyclones appeared primed to tie the game by moving within the West Virginia 10 midway through the fourth quarter. But Iowa State could not break the end zone and instead settled for a third Owens field goal.

West Virginia moved in position to put the game away by moving to the ISU 33 with under five minutes left, but Grier’s (20-of-25 for 316 yards, two touchdowns) end zone heave to Sills was intercepted by Iowa State’s D’Andre Payne.

Iowa State moved to the WVU 37 with a chance to win the game on a touchdown, but Kempt’s third-and-7 pass to Lazard was dropped and his fourth down pass was broken up, handing the Mountaineers the ball inside Iowa State territory with 2:42 to play. The Cyclones immediately forced West Virginia into a third-and-17 — allowing thoughts of a punt or a long field goal to creep to mind — but Kennedy McKoy took a draw play around the left side for 17 yards and a game-clinching first down.

The loss denied Iowa State its first 7-2 start since 1976 and severely damaged the upstart Cyclones’ Big 12 championship hopes. Iowa State dropped to 4-2 in Big 12 play, one game behind Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU. Matt Campbell‘s crew holds a tiebreaker over the Sooners and Frogs and have yet to face Oklahoma State, but Iowa State now finds itself tied at 2-losses with West Virginia (6-3, 4-2 Big 12) and Texas — and both of those teams own the tiebreaker over Iowa State.