Its winning streak snapped and no longer in contention for a championship, No. 25 Iowa State now has to focus on something else.

That should not be a problem for coach Matt Campbell and his players because they still can go where few Iowa State teams have gone before.

The Cyclones saw their hopes of playing in the Big 12 championship game buried under the swarm of an aggressive Texas defense in Austin last week. The offense never found any footing and Texas gashed what was then the league’s top defense for 405 yards in a 24-10 victory that snapped Iowa State’s five-game winning streak, its longest in 16 years.

But check out what remains for the Cyclones (6-4, 5-3 Big 12) as they eye their final two regular-season games and a second straight bowl appearance:

— No Iowa State team ever has won six conference games. This one would do that with a victory in Saturday night’s home game with Kansas State (5-6, 3-5), which needs a win for bowl eligibility.

— Only a handful of Iowa State teams have won eight regular-season games and it hasn’t happened since 2000. That would occur if Iowa State beats the Wildcats and then wins its final regular-season game Dec. 1, currently scheduled against Incarnate Word.

— Only one Iowa State team in modern times has won nine games. The Cyclones would do that if they tack on a bowl victory and finish with three straight wins.

Iowa State is paying attention to this week’s opponent for now: It has lost 10 straight games to Kansas State, the only Big 12 team the Cyclones’ seniors have not defeated in their careers.

Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell, right, receives his players to the sideline during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Texas , Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell, right, receives his players to the sideline during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Texas , Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

“We have everything to play for with our team,” backup quarterback Kyle Kempt said Tuesday. “We have a chance to beat a team we haven’t beaten in 10 years, a chance to send this team out the right way.”

While frustrating, the Texas loss appears to have been filed away and forgotten. If anything lingers from that night, it’s injuries. Freshman quarterback Brock Purdy and defensive back D’Andre Payne both were dinged up in the game. Purdy is back at practice, but Payne, a key figure in the secondary, is questionable.

“This is really going to test to see who really wants to be part of the program,” linebacker Willie Harvey said. “We lost a game we obviously didn’t want to lose, but we’re going to see who really wants to be on board and is in this for the long haul. I really feel we’re going to find out and it’ll be interesting.”

It’s also a test for Purdy, who was the catalyst in the winning streak with his passing and ability to keep defenses off balance with his running. It was the first time the Cyclones had lost since he became the starter and was by far his worst game. He finished just 10 of 23 for 130 yards, did not throw a touchdown pass and was sacked five times.

“It’s tough, so now it’s like, hey, that’s life,” Campbell said. “You’ve got to be able to overcome, not even within a game, but after a game like that and have the ability to come back. I’ve been really proud of how he has responded mentally and physically coming back. Pretty special guy.”

Notes: Iowa State scheduled the Dec. 1 game with Incarnate Word to replace its opener with South Dakota State, which was canceled after a few plays because of lightning. Incarnate Word will play at Montana State in the FCS playoffs on Saturday and would still play at Iowa State if it loses that game. If Incarnate Word wins and advances to the next round, Iowa State officials say are confident they could find a replacement.

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Source: The Associated Press

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