Iowa State came into Saturday’s game against West Virginia needing a win against the Mountaineers or a loss by Oklahoma State against TCU to secure a spot in the Big 12 championship game. The Horned Frogs knocked off the Cowboys not long after the No. 9 Cyclones and Mountaineers got started Saturday, but that news did little to affect the result in Ames as the Cyclones (8-2, 8-1 Big 12) easily beat the visiting Mountaineers 42-6.
After the game, WVU head coach Neal Brown said the poor showing from his team showed how much more work there is for the Mountaineers (5-4, 4-4 Big 12) to do.
“It didn’t show today, but we’re a lot better than we were a year ago,” Brown said. “But we’re a long way from where we need to be playing and competing to be in that championship game that’s happening here at the end of the month. That was clear today.”
West Virginia entered the game with the top-ranked defense in the Big 12 in terms of scoring (17.8 points per game) and yards allowed (247 yards per game). Iowa State nearly matched WVU’s averages in the first half alone, scoring 21 points and gaining 236 yards.
2020 is Matt Campbell’s fifth season as the head coach at Iowa State. After a 3-9 first year, the Cyclones have gone 31-18, winning at least seven games in four straight seasons. Brown said that success is what he is looking to build with WVU in Morgantown.
“There’s a lot of things they do in this program that I respect, that I think we’ve got to mirror at our place to get where we want to be,” Brown said. “You look at Iowa State, how many extraordinary plays did the make today? A couple. But here’s what they do: they pay attention to details. They do what they’re coached to do. And they make routine plays. Balls thrown to them, they catch it. Guy is open, they connect on the throw. They win their one-on-one battles. Guy in open field? They make a tackle. We’ve got to do a better job making routine plays.”
West Virginia did not score a touchdown for the first time in two seasons under Brown. Despite the outcome, however, Brown said Saturday’s loss did not make him feel any worse about the state of the program. Brown noted that the team suffered numerous blowout losses like this last season, while every game this season had been close prior to Saturday.
“I don’t leave this game discouraged. I’m upset, I’m disappointed in how we played, but I’m not discouraged,” Brown said. “This isn’t going to set us back from a program standpoint. It has brought to light some things that we already know, we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
The Mountaineers will play one final regular-season game next week in a rescheduled game against Oklahoma.