Associated Press

No. 15 Texas wins de facto Big 12 semifinal over No. 16 Iowa State, loses Sam Ehlinger

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There were three major developments in Saturday night’s game between No. 15 Texas and No. 16 Iowa State and the Big 12 title race as a whole, and two of them happened before the game even started.

The first happened last week, when Iowa State running back David Montgomery was ejected from the Cyclones’ win over Baylor for fighting, which triggered an automatic suspension for the first half of Saturday night’s game.

The second occurred an hour before the game started and 450 miles north of Austin, when Oklahoma State upset No. 9 West Virginia. That stunner turned Saturday night’s game into a de facto Big 12 semifinal where, regardless of the outcome of West Virginia’s game with No. 6 Oklahoma Friday night in Morgantown, the winner between Iowa State and Texas would control their own destiny to reach the Big 12 title game.

The second major development came on the final play from scrimmage of the first half. Scrambling toward the Iowa State end zone, Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger put his head down in an attempt to power toward the first down marker. He was stopped short and, worse, took a shot to the same right, throwing shoulder that knocked him out of UT’s win over Baylor on Oct. 13. Ehlinger remained in uniform and threw warm-up passes on the sideline but did not return.

While that was obviously bad news for Texas (8-3, 6-2 Big 12), the good news is that the Longhorns dominated the game with and without its star quarterback. Ehlinger’s scramble helped put the Longhorns up 17-3, and a 27-yard touchdown pass from backup Shane Buechele to Lil'Jordan Humphrey with 36 seconds left in the third quarter put the game on ice as Texas cruised to an easier-than-expected 24-10 win.

Before the Ehlinger injury, the sophomore quarterback was once again excellent. Texas jumped out to an early lead, rolling 80 yards in nine plays and scoring on a 7-yard Ehlinger run.

The Cyclones (6-4, 5-3 Big 12) answered with a field goal but, after a pair of punts, the Longhorns moved 94 yards in 10 plays to push the lead to 11, scoring on a 19-yard swing pass from Ehlinger to running back Keaontay Ingram to put Texas up 14-3 with 9:53 left in the first half. He finished the game 12-of-15 for 137 yards and a touchdown with 32 rushing yards and another score, continuing his Big 12 record streak of consecutive passes without an interception.

The absence of Montgomery and the early deficit put the game in Brock Purdy‘s hands, and for the first time in his young career the Iowa State freshman looked like a freshman. He was 10-of-23 passing for 130 yards with an interception and was sacked five times before leaving the game in the fourth quarter due to injury. Hakeem Butler posted six grabs for 99 yards, but no other Iowa State wideout posted more than 14 receiving yards. By the time Montgomery entered the game, the Cyclones trailed by 14 and had failed to establish any sort of a rhythm. He finished 10 carries for 33 yards and a garbage-time touchdown with 1:33 remaining and Iowa State trailing by 21.

With Ehlinger’s status unknown moving forward, the Texas offense still clicked on all cylinders. Tre Watson carried 13 times for 84 yards, including a 39-yard run that was the longest among any Longhorn this season, and Buechele completed all 10 of his passes for 89 yards and a score. Humphrey caught seven passes for 86 yards and the score, surpassing the 1,000-yard mark on the season.

Ehlinger did not miss any time after suffering the Grade 1 AC sprain that knocked him out of the Baylor game, but Texas was off the following week. The Longhorns play Friday at Kansas and the stakes are the same regardless of who plays quarterback — a win puts them back in the Big 12 Championship.

No. 5 Oklahoma holds off Iowa State in Big 12 opener

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No. 5 Oklahoma (3-0, 1-0 Big 12) was finally given a stiff test after two easy wins to start the year, but Iowa State (0-2, 0-1 Big 12) was unable to pull a second straight upset over the Sooners. Kyler Murray passed for 348 yards and 3 touchdowns and rushed for a team-high 77 yards to help Oklahoma stay ahead of the Cyclones, 37-27, in the Big 12 opener for both schools.

Iowa State cut Oklahoma’s lead to 34-27 with a field goal at the end of an 83-yard drive in the fourth quarter. Murray then got to work on leading an important drive for Oklahoma, beginning with a 15-yard run and running for 15 yards once again two plays later. Although the drive did not end with a touchdown, a 42-yard field goal was essentially the final nail in the coffin for Iowa State’s upset bid on this day. Iowa State quarterback Zeb Noland had a pass picked off on the ensuing drive, which allowed Oklahoma to run out the bulk of the remaining 1:11 in the game.

Noland completed 25 of 36 passes for 360 yards and two touchdowns, and Hakeem Butler was a breakout star for the Cyclones with five catches for 174 yards and two touchdowns. But it was not enough to overcome Murray’s performance. Sooners receiver Marquise Brown caught nine passes for 191 yards and a touchdown as well.

Playing their first game without standout running back Rodney Anderson, who suffered a season-ending injury last week, the Sooners found the production they needed with Murray and running backs Trey Sermon and Marcelias Sutton. The two running backs charged the offense on their second possession of the third quarter with Sutton hurdling a defender for some extra yardage and Sermon breaking loose from some poor tackling by Iowa State’s defense for a touchdown. Sutton had left the game at one point with what looked like it might be a serious leg injury, but he returned to the game later despite needing assistance off the field.

Oklahoma returns home next week for one last non-conference game on their schedule. The Sooners host Army in what will be the first meeting with the service academy since 1961. Oklahoma returns to Big 12 play the following weekend at home against Baylor.

Iowa State also jumps back to non-conference play next week with a home game against Akron. It is the second game of a home-and-home series that started last year with Iowa State winning 41-14 at Akron.

Kyler Murray tosses 3 first-half TDs as Sooners take 14-point lead on Iowa State

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The first two weeks were a breeze for Oklahoma, but the Big 12 opener on the road against Iowa State is proving to be a bit more of a contest. Oklahoma leads Iowa State 24-10 at halftime in Ames, with the Sooners looking to score revenge against the only team to hand them a loss in the regular season a year ago. Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray has been locked in by completing 13-of-17 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns. The third touchdown pass came in the final seconds of the half to Myles Tease to pad the lead right before the break.

Oklahoma took early control of the game with a 10-0 advantage after the first quarter. The highlight of the first quarter was a 75-yard touchdown pass from Murray to Marquise Brown, who used speed to get by two Iowa State defenders and race to the end zone on a catch deep over the middle.

It took a couple of drives for Iowa State to get things going, but a recovered fumble on Oklahoma’s first play after the Cyclones got on the board early in the second quarter with a field goal, immediately led to a tie ballgame. After Murray completed a catch to a wide-open Grant Calcaterra, Calcaterra ran a few more yards down the field but fumbled the football away around midfield. Richard Bowens III picked up the loose ball sitting on the ground and Zeb Noland connected with Hakeem Butler on Iowa State’s first play from scrimmage after the turnover. Butler broke a few tackles to keep the play alive and he ended up in the end zone as a result of the fantastic effort.

Oklahoma starting linebacker Curtis Bolton left the game in the second quarter for an injury. But he was not out for long. Bolton returned to the game after missing just one play on defense.

The Sooners are playing their first game without running back Rodney Anderson (season-ending injury last week). Murray ha sled the Oklahoma running game with 43 rushing yards, while sophomore Trey Sermon has rushed for 30 yards so far. But, the passing game has been working quite well for Oklahoma.

Iowa State completes stellar season by corralling No. 20 Memphis in Liberty Bowl

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Iowa State survived an ill-timed, controversial fumble and harassed Memphis quarterback Riley Ferguson throughout a cold, windy afternoon to score a 21-20 upset of No. 20 Memphis on its home field in the Liberty Bowl.

The win capped off an ascendant season for Matt Campbell and his program, ending a string of six straight losing seasons with an 8-5 campaign — the Cyclones’ most wins since 2000 — that included three victories over ranked opponents.

Iowa State started the game in a Memphis-like fashion, accepting the ball to open the game and scoring on a 52-yard bomb from Kyle Kempt to Hakeem Butler. The Cyclones had a chance to take a 14-0 lead, driving to the Memphis 39-yard line, but a botched punt snap gave the Tigers the ball at the Iowa State 40 and the Tigers capitalized in two Ferguson passes. The first went 30 yards to Tony Pollard and the second 10 to Anthony Miller for the tying score, a grab that tied West Virginia’s David Sills for a national-best 18 touchdown receptions.

Memphis (10-3) missed on two opportunities to take the lead. First, Riley Patterson missed a 38-yard field goal at the tail end of the first quarter, and then Ferguson was sacked on a 4th-and-8 at the Iowa State 37 to open the second quarter. Iowa State took advantage of that momentum with a 12-play, 6-minute touchdown drive that was extended after a Kempt interception in the end zone was overturned upon review. Given new life, Campbell elected to go for a 4th-and-5 from the Memphis 30 and converted on a 12-yard completion to Allen Lazard. The Cyclones re-claimed the lead four plays later on a 2-yard Joel Lanning rush.

Iowa State had a chance to push its lead to two scores late in the half, driving to the Memphis 24, but Kempt was sacked on a 3rd-and-10 and Garrett Owens‘s 51-yard field goals sailed (way, way) wide left with 1:18 to play. Kempt connected on 15-of-26 passes for 195 yards and a touchdown in the half.

Memphis responded by driving for a 34-yard Patterson field goal as time expired in the half, then grabbed its first lead on a 36-yard toss from Ferguson to Phil Mayhue.

The Cyclones went back in front later in the third quarter, but not without significant help — again. Facing a 2nd-and-7 at the Memphis 9, Kempt was intercepted at the goal line by Curtis Akins, who returned the ball all the way to the 24. But the pick was overturned by a roughing the passer call — and a fortunate one at that — and Kempt nailed Lazard for a 5-yard touchdown two plays later, see-sawing Iowa State back in front at 21-17 with 4:28 left in the third quarter. Lazard closed his record-setting career with 10 grabs (tying a Liberty Bowl record) for 142 yards and a touchdown, while Kempt hit 24-of-38 passes for 314 yards and two touchdowns.

After a short kickoff game Memphis the ball at its own 38, Memphis moved swiftly into Iowa State territory to set up Patterson’s second field goal, a 30-yarder that pulled the Tigers within 21-20.

The teams traded punt on their next possessions, but an advantage in the field position battle gave Iowa State the ball at the Memphis 45 with 11:05 to play in the game. The Cyclones successfully pulled off a choke-the-life-out-of-’em drive, consuming seven minutes and 23 seconds and moving to the Memphis 1 before the sure-handed David Montgomery fumbled the ball into the Memphis end zone, which was recovered by the Tigers’ Jonathan Cook. The play was (of course) reviewed and upheld, meaning the Cyclones’ first lost fumble of the entire season came at the worst possible time.

Memphis took over at its own 20 with 3:50 to play and appeared to go three-and-out, but a pass interference call on Iowa State’s Brian Peavy bailed the Tigers out with a first down instead of a punt. Ferguson drove Memphis to the Iowa State 40 with more than two minutes remaining and two timeouts in his pocket, but fired four straight incomplete passes to give the ball back to Iowa State with 1:52 to play. Lanning converted a 2nd-and-7 with a 9-yard rush, securing a game-clinching first down to salt away Iowa State’s first bowl win since 2009.

Ferguson completed his collegiate career with an effective 21-of-33 passing for 256 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, but he was sacked six times.

Iowa State leading Memphis halfway through Liberty Bowl

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It’s been an Iowa State-like tempo through the first half of the Liberty Bowl and, not surprisingly, Iowa State holds a 14-10 lead over Memphis.

Iowa State started the game in a Memphis-like fashion, accepting the ball to open the game and scoring on a 52-yard bomb from Kyle Kempt to Hakeem Butler. The Cyclones had a chance to take a 14-0 lead, driving to the Memphis 39-yard line, but a botched punt snap gave the Tigers the ball at the Iowa State 40 and the Tigers capitalized in two Riley Ferguson passes. The first went 30 yards to Tony Pollard and the second 10 to Anthony Miller for the tying score, a grab that tied West Virginia’s David Sills for a national-best 18 touchdown receptions.

Memphis missed on two opportunities to take the lead. First, Riley Patterson missed a 38-yard field goal at the tail end of the first quarter, and then Ferguson was sacked on a 4th-and-8 at the Iowa State 37 to open the second quarter. Iowa State took advantage of that momentum with a 12-play, 6-minute touchdown drive that was extended after a Kempt interception in the end zone was overturned upon review. Given new life, Matt Campbell elected to go for a 4th-and-5 from the Memphis 30 and converted on a 12-yard completion to Allen Lazard. The Cyclones re-claimed the lead four plays later on a 2-yard Joel Lanning rush.

Iowa State had a chance to push its lead to two scores late in the half, driving to the Memphis 24, but Kempt was sacked on a 3rd-and-10 and Garrett Owens‘s 51-yard field goals sailed (way, way) wide left with 1:18 to play. Kempt connected on 15-of-26 passes for 195 yards and a touchdown in the half.

Memphis responded by driving for a 34-yard Patterson field goal as time expired in the half.

Ferguson completed 14-of-17 passes for 170 yards with a touchdown. Memphis’s Patrick Taylor, Jr., leads all players rushing with eight carries for nine yards. Memphis as a team rushed for eight yards in the half, while Iowa State was held to minus-5, including the 21-yard loss on the botched punt snap.