Dec 19, 2020; Arlington, Texas, USA; Iowa State Cyclones tight end Charlie Kolar (88) scores a touchdown in the second quarter against the Oklahoma Sooners at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
ARLINGTON, Texas — Iowa State star tight end Charlie Kolar has a message for anyone criticizing Brock Purdy’s performance in Saturday afternoon’s 27-21 loss to Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game.
Purdy, the Cyclones’ star junior quarterback, completed 27-of-40 passes for 322 yards and one touchdown during the contest, but that production came with three interceptions, including one on the team’s final drive that sealed the Sooners’ sixth-straight Big 12 title.
Kolar was on the receiving end of six of Purdy’s 27 completions for 92 yards and broke multiple tackles on his way to scoring the team’s only passing touchdown.
“He’s a f***ing warrior,” Kolar said of his quarterback. “I mean, you can say what you want about three picks, but he keeps fighting to the last second. I’ll go to war with him any day of the week, any day of the year. Just like him, like all of us, we’ve got to get better. Obviously, he didn’t play his best game. None of us did. I don’t care. I f***ing love him. I’ll keep playing with him any day.”
While it might be easy for some to put the loss on the shoulders of Purdy, it should be noted the Cyclones’ offensive line played perhaps its worst game of the season causing him to be under duress due to an intense Oklahoma pass rush for the majority of the game.
It also must be said Iowa State likely would not be in the position it was in, playing for the conference championship as the home team after finishing atop the regular season standings, without the play of Purdy, who holds roughly 25 school records three years into his stellar collegiate career.
“Man, I still think Brock was really good,” Matt Campbell said. “It’s like I’ve said since he took over two and a half years ago, like that guy gave us a chance. You know, I know there’s times that the ball got turned over, but there’s pressure, and he’s got this unbelievable escapability. To be honest with you, we’re nowhere close in that football game if Brock Purdy is not our quarterback, and obviously, we’re not even sniffing this football game if Brock Purdy is not our quarterback.”
Isheem Young’s ejection created “a challenge”
The game started on a sour note for Iowa State when Isheem Young, the Big 12 co-defensive freshman of the year, was ejected on the second play of the contest after he was flagged for targeting for a hit on Sooners receiver Drake Stoops.
The referee explained to Campbell that the ejection was not due to helmet-to-helmet contact, but Young making a hit on a defenseless receiver. The Cyclone head coach’s interaction with the official prompted some colorful language in disagreement that was picked up on a hot mic and heard throughout the entire stadium.
“You know, (it was) a challenge, but I feel like that’s kind of where we live,” Campbell said postgame. “The obstacles in the way, and you know what, you have to overcome it, and we did. Those guys that came in played outstanding. Quite honestly, I’m really proud of some of those guys. You hate to lose a good player like that, but that is what it is, and you take it and move on from it. Boy, it gave some other guys a great opportunity to get in and really kind of show their growth, so I was really proud of some of those guys.”
Cyclones await their bowl game assignment
Regardless of the outcome against the Sooners, the Cyclones appear headed for the most high-profile bowl game in program history.
Iowa State will have a solid chance at playing in the Fiesta Bowl (likely against Pac-12 champion Oregon) assuming they don’t fall far in the final College Football Playoff rankings set to be released on Sunday. An appearance in the Fiesta Bowl (or even potentially the Peach Bowl, which our publisher Chris Williams reported is an outside possibility) would be the program’s first appearance in one of the New Year’s Six games.
Worst case scenario, the Cyclones will return to the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio for the second time in the last three years.
“I don’t even know what Bowl games are being played or what the process is,” Campbell said. “To be honest with you, we’ll worry about that sometime tomorrow. Really could care less. Just hope this team gets another opportunity to play football.”
The Cyclones will get another opportunity to play football as it would require them opting out of the postseason (as some programs across the country have done in recent days) to keep them out.
The only question is whether or not that postseason appearance will come before or after the calendar turns to 2021.
“I think we told (the bowl committees0 that we’re a very good team,” junior receiver Xavier Hutchinson said. “Like I said, I do think we deserve whatever Bowl game we get. We deserve to be in a Bowl game. But I hope we just put respect on our name, on this university, to everybody who’s an outsider from this program, that we’re here to stay and we’re always going to play our butt off.”