WVU entered Saturday’s game against No. 9 Iowa State winless on the road, but the Mountaineers had been competitive in all of those losses.
Defeats at Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Texas all came down to the fourth quarter. Had a few plays gone the Mountaineers’ way in those outings, they may have come out on top.
But after a 21-day hiatus, this contest against the Cyclones was far from competitive, as the Big 12’s top-rated defense produced little resistance against Iowa State’s high-powered offense.
ISU quarterback Brock Purdy led the Cyclones to touchdowns on each of their first three drives in this tilt at Jack Trice Stadium, as the league leaders cruised to a 42-6 victory over WVU.
Head coach Neal Brown said the Mountaineers played their worst football of the season in the first half, as they promptly fell behind 21-0.
“Y’all watched that game,” Brown said. “There ain’t a whole lot to say.”
Iowa State (8-2, 8-1) has now clinched a berth in the Big 12 Championship — and would have regardless of the outcome of the game due to Oklahoma State’s loss to TCU — while West Virginia (5-4, 4-4) will finish the 2020 regular season without a road victory.
Iowa State’s first scoring drive chewed up 11 plays and 80 yards in the first quarter, capped by a 23-yard scoring run by sophomore Breece Hall, the Big 12’s leading rusher.
The Cyclones took advantage of a short field on their ensuing possession. They doubled their lead to 14-0 after an 11-play, 44-yard drive that ended with a Purdy touchdown run on a read option.
Trailing early by two scores, the Mountaineers looked as if they’d respond during their first possession of the second quarter. But, they squandered their best scoring chance of the first half — and their longest drive of the game in terms of time of possession — with self-inflicted mistakes.
After reaching the red zone, the Mountaineer drive stalled after two incompletions, a false start and an illegal forward pass. The two flags moved the ball back to the 24-yard line, and kicker Casey Legg missed a 41-yard attempt.
ISU scored on its next possession to balloon its lead to 21-0 before halftime.
The Cyclones added another pair of touchdowns in the third quarter, while WVU responded with a Tyler Sumpter field goal in the fourth quarter. ISU added another touchdown with a connection between Purdy and Hall on a fourth down midway through the final period, while Sumpter tacked on another field goal for WVU with 2:46 to go, capping the scoring at 42-6.
West Virginia’s league leading pass defense gave up 247 yards through the air to the Cyclones, well above its 161.5 yards per game average. In fact, WVU produced its worst defensive outing of the season, giving up 42 points and 483 yards of total offense to its opponent.
Meanwhile, Iowa State’s stout run defense, which ranks second in the Big 12, limited WVU to a net of 54 yards on the ground. In all four of their road losses this season, the Mountaineers have been held under 100 yards rushing.
Thought WVU didn’t commit a turnover, it still went three-and-out on three occasions and turned the ball over on downs twice.
WVU quarterback Jarret Doege completed 21 of his 41 passing attempts for 209 yards. Iowa State’s Purdy went 20-23 for 247 yards and three scores.
Freshman quarterback Garrett Greene also appeared for the Mountaineers, gaining seven yards on his lone rushing attempt.
Senior linebacker Tony Fields led the WVU defense in total tackles with nine, bringing his season total to 88.
Following the day’s action in the Big 12, Iowa State and Oklahoma are now locked in for the Big 12 Championship Dec. 19. ISU earned its first berth in the conference title game, while WVU will host the Sooners Dec. 12 to wrap up the regular season.