HEADLINE

Iowa State, BYU chasing critical sixth victory

Field Level Media

November 08, 2023 at 12:32 pm.

Bowl eligibility will be the prize for the winning team Saturday night as BYU hosts Iowa State in Big 12 Conference action in Provo, Utah.

The Cougars (5-4, 2-4) and the visiting Cyclones (5-4, 4-2) face tough remaining schedules, and this game could determine which program joins the postseason party.

After Iowa State, BYU will wrap up its initial Big 12 season at home against Oklahoma (Nov. 18) and at Oklahoma State (Nov. 25).

The Cyclones will host Texas on Nov. 18 before traveling to Kansas State the following week.

Both teams enter Saturday’s game on a down note. BYU fell 37-7 at West Virginia last Saturday, while Kansas ended Iowa State’s three-game winning streak with a 28-21 victory in Ames, Iowa.

The Cyclones made things interesting, pulling within three after trailing 21-3 in the first half.

“We never put our head down,” Iowa State quarterback Rocco Becht said. “We kept fighting. That’s what I love about this team.”

Becht threw for 216 yards, rushed for a touchdown and engineered two long drives that helped the Cyclones make it 21-18 with eight minutes remaining. Kansas responded with a back-breaking 80-yard touchdown.

BYU had success the last time it hosted a Big 12 foe, beating Texas Tech 27-14 three weeks ago. That seems like an eternity ago, however, after consecutive blowout road losses to Texas and West Virginia.

“This conference isn’t going to make it easy for you. They are not just going to hand you wins — especially on the road. That just doesn’t happen,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. “So we need to find a way to protect home, like we have done all year, and then we can do that and figure out how to play better on the road when that time comes.”

BYU has a bit of a quarterback controversy. Jake Retzlaff threw for 210 yards against the Mountaineers after replacing Kedon Slovis, who was sidelined with shoulder and elbow injuries.

Sitake said the starting spot is up for grabs even if Slovis is cleared to play.

“Everybody that is coming off injury, they just don’t jump into a starting role (again),” Sitake said. “You have to earn the right to get that back. So competition still continues. … You don’t just become a starter by appointment only and then you are anointed the starter and then that is it for the rest of your life. That’s not how it works.”

This will be the first meeting between BYU and Iowa State in nearly 50 years. The Cyclones own a 4-0 series advantage, including a 34-7 win in 1974.