It's easy to draw parallels between Iowa State's win at Oklahoma on Saturday and the Cyclones' win 27 years ago, in Norman. The Sooners were the heavy favorite in both games, while Iowa State was just trying to make it competitive.
Jim Walden, who led Iowa State from 1987-'94, was stunned when his team went on the road and beat the Sooners, in 1990. ISU hadn't beaten OU since 1961, and when the Cyclones finally won, Walden told a local newspaper reporter that even he didn't believe his team could pull off the 33-31 win over then-No. 16 Oklahoma, especially on the road.
This season, following a 38-31 win for ISU over then-No. 3 OU, current head coach Matt Campbell wasn't at all surprised that his team pulled off the upset of the season so far.
"If you look at our football team from last year on, we've played with everybody that's been on our schedule," he said during Monday's Big 12 coaches conference call. "It was frustrating when you try to figure out how to win those games. We lost a few games this year that we should have won, and it was no different going to Norman. We've proven time and time again that we can be in those games, and on Saturday, we finally had a complete football game."
The Cyclones came back from 14 points down twice, all without starting quarterback Jacob Park, who took a leave of absence for medical reasons. With a little mixing and matching, former walk-on Kyle Kempt and quarterback-turned-linebacker Joel Lanning got snaps behind center.
Kempt finished with 343 yards passing and three touchdowns, while Lanning had nine carries for 35 yards -- and still played linebacker enough to have eight tackles and a sack.
"We talked about letting Joel play offense and defense even going back to last spring," Campbell said. "We knew his value at quarterback, but also what he can do as one of our best defenders. We're certainly not going to snub that any time soon for the sake of offense, but it's special to see what he's doing right now."
Iowa State (3-2, 1-1) will face Kansas at home Saturday.
What now for Oklahoma?
First-year OU head coach Lincoln Riley was not happy with his team's performance against the Cyclones, especially effort and maintaining momentum throughout.
The week before, at Baylor, the Sooners jumped out to a big lead but allowed the Bears to come back. It still resulted in an OU win, but that wasn't the case against the Cyclones.
The defense struggled to stop anything ISU threw at them, especially in the air.
"We played well early but then didn't play our best ball after that," Riley said. "We had a couple penalties that really hurt us and gave up a few plays in the passing game that we didn't play well enough. We continue to play well against the run, but we have to get better against the pass."
The Sooners were considered the Big 12's best chance to reach the college football playoff, and Riley believes those high hopes may have gotten to his team.
"We need to stop worrying about that expectations are put on us from the outside world and get back to just go out and do the absolute best that we can," he said.
With Oklahoma's loss, only two Big 12 teams remain unbeaten in conference play -- Texas and TCU. Six teams, including WVU, have one Big 12 loss, and with the addition of the conference title game, those top two spots are up for grabs.
"There's more parity in the league this year than I've ever seen," Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy said. "College football is all about trying to get 18-,19-, 20-year-olds to focus during the week to play well on Saturday. You have to make sure you take it game by game and week by week, because this thing can be won by anybody."
This article is written by Sean Manning from The Dominion Post, Morgantown, W.Va. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.