Malcolm Rodriguez stared into the eyes of Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy, and they never moved.
So as Purdy cocked back his arm, Rodriguez let one Cyclone receiver slide past and jumped in front of another, picking off the pass. He sprinted into the end zone.
It was first of three interceptions of Purdy by the Oklahoma State defense in the final seven minutes, and was the game’s final score in a 34-27 victory over No. 23-ranked Iowa State. It was OSU’s first Big 12 Conference road win as an underdog since winning at TCU in 2016.
The pick-six by Rodriguez came with 6 minutes and 47 seconds left in the game, leaving plenty of time for Iowa State to try to respond – especially with the OSU offense struggling in the second half after an explosive first two quarters.
But a big sack by Mike Scott and Cameron Murray on Iowa State’s next drive, forced the Cyclones to punt it back to Oklahoma State, which was more focused on milking the clock than trying to score again.
The Cyclones got the ball back again with 2:43 remaining. But, two plays later, OSU linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga did exactly the same thing as Rodriguez – read Purdy’s eyes all the way and stepped in front of a pass for an interception near midfield.
OSU shaved the clock down to around 30 seconds before punting it back to Iowa State. And again, two plays into the drive, Purdy threw yet another interception – this time picked off by safety Tre Sterling to secure the victory.
“Jim (Knowles, defensive coordinator) had a good scheme for them when they throw the ball,” Gundy said. “It worked for us late, especially on the inside crossing routes. Our players bought into the scheme.”
While it was the defense that closed out the win, the offense got out to a hot start in the game.
OSU needed just four plays to go 90 yards on its second drive of the game, scoring first, with receiver Tylan Wallace doing most of the work.
Wallace caught a pass at the line of scrimmage on a third-and-2, and broke two tackles before streaking up the sideline toward the end zone.
But Wallace’s work wasn’t done.
He had two Iowa State defenders take angles to try to track him down, but the junior from Fort Worth, Texas, stiff-armed both Cyclones – leveling one at about the 24-yard line that caught national attention on social media – to complete the 71-yard catch and run for the score.
It was the first offensive touchdown given up by Iowa State’s defense in the first quarter this season.
The Cowboys had two more big-hit scores in the first half to put the pressure on the Cyclone offense – which tried to keep up as best it could.
After ISU was able to put together an 83-yard scoring drive on seven plays, the OSU wide receiver group broke loose another big catch and run with quarterback Spencer Sanders hitting Braydon Johnson on a bubble screen that Johnson turned into a 50-yard touchdown right up the sideline.
The Cyclones responded with a field goal after the OSU defense was able to hold up in the red zone.
But the Cowboys pushed their lead back out to 11 when running back Chuba Hubbard took a handoff up the middle on a third-and-1 for a 65-yard touchdown.
OSU had just three scores of 50 yards or more in its first four Big 12 games – one in each of the past three games – but had three in the first half in Ames, Iowa. In fact, the Cowboys didn’t run a single play on the Iowa State side of the field in the opening 30 minutes.
OSU’s offense would finally put together a couple of long drives in the second half, but each one stalled on the edge of the red zone.
Fortunately for the Cowboys, they have one of the most accurate kickers in the country.
Matt Ammendola knocked through 49- and 40-yard field goals to remain perfect on field goals this season. He’s one of just a handful of place kickers who are 100 percent on field goals with at least 10 attempts on the season.