MORGANTOWN, W.V. – Quarterback play is a vital component for any football team, especially in the offensive-minded Big 12 Conference. Signal-callers coming off performances at the opposite end of the spectrum will tangle when Iowa State tries for a ninth consecutive win in October when it travels to West Virginia on Saturday.
TV: 4 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Iowa State -10.5.
Sophomore Brock Purdy recorded his record-setting fourth-straight 300-yard offensive performance in the Cyclones' 49-24 win over TCU last weekend; he passed for 247 yards on 19-of-24 attempts and two touchdowns and rushed for a career-high 102 yards with two TDs on the ground - the fourth player in FBS to achieve multiple pass and run TDs in FBS this season. "I think Brock is really special, I don't know if I have any different feeling for the words that I could use for Brock Purdy that I use consistently all year," Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said after the win. "He's a guy that gives us the ability to be a dual-threat football player and I think when they overload in the run game, he's got the ability to take some heat off of the running game and I thought today he did that when he needed to." On the other hand, West Virginia quarterback Austin Kendall threw four interceptions in last week's 42-31 loss to No. 11 Texas, but first-year coach coach Neal Brown was quick to jump to the defense of his grad transfer signal caller who passed for 367 yards. "I know all you want to talk about are the interceptions, (but) that's the best game (Kendall's) played without watching it on tape," Brown said. "The first interception he threw was his fault. He read the wrong coverage. The next three, two of them were in the receiver's hands and third one we had a guy run the wrong route."
ABOUT IOWA STATE (3-2, 1-1 Big 12)
Purdy ranks fifth nationally in both total offense (356.2) and passing yardage (315.6) and is the program's career leader in completion percentage (68.3) as well as passing efficiency (167.8) - which ranks third among active FBS quarterbacks with at least 325 attempts. Senior Deshaunte Jones ranks seventh in receptions per game at 7.4 and is one of six players in FBS with multiple games of 10 or more catches, while sophomore Charlie Kolar is second on the team in receptions (20) and ranks ninth among tight ends in receiving yards (54.8) and 10th in catches (4.0). Led by sophomore linebacker O'Rien Vance, who leads the Big 12 and ranks fifth nationally in sacks per game at 1.3 (6.5), the defense is giving up just 19.6 offensive points in regulation, has not yielded a first-quarter touchdown and is limiting opponents to 3.2 yards per rush - 32nd in FBS.
ABOUT WEST VIRGINIA (3-2, 1-1)
Kendall finished 31-of-46 with three touchdowns among his career-high yardage total against the Longhorns, but two costly picks in the fourth quarter led to 14 points and an 18-point deficit. "The story of the game - we had four turnovers. We missed two field goals. That's six points," Brown said. "We get a turnover in the third quarter with a chance to tie the game, and we have to kick a field goal. That's four points, (and) that's a ten-point swing. That was the story of it." Junior T.J. Simmons finished with seven catches for a career-high 135 yards and a touchdown, becoming the Mountaineers' first 100-yard receiver this season.
1. West Virginia leads the all-time series 5-2. West Virginia entered this game last season 5-0 and ranked sixth but was shut out in the second half of a 30-14 road loss to the Cyclones.
2. Alabama is the only other Power 5 program besides Iowa State without a loss in October since 2017.
3. The Cyclones' offense has only two true three-and-outs this season, tied for first nationally, and is 22-of-23 in the red zone (16 TDs, six field goals) to rank eighth.
PREDICTION: Iowa State 37, West Virginia 24