Peterson: Regardless of Cy-Hawk result, Oklahoma road upset should forever top Kyle Kempt's resume
AMES, Ia. — Kyle Kempt won at Oklahoma.
He beat TCU at Jack Trice Stadium.
He won five other Big 12 Conference games as Iowa State’s 2017 starting quarterback.
He started for a team that beat hometown Memphis in the Liberty Bowl.
Sure, Saturday will be his first Cy-Hawk game. It’ll be his first time playing inside Kinnick Stadium. It’ll be his introduction to the biggest nonconference game on either team’s regular-season schedule.
He beat the Sooners in Norman. I don’t care what you say or feel: Doing that trumps anything he could possibly do on Saturday in Iowa City.
You’ll read how this is Iowa State’s biggest game of the season — and to that, I say bunk.
The next game — at home against Oklahoma — that’s the biggie.
Iowa State hasn’t beaten the Sooners in consecutive seasons since 1960-61. That was so long ago that the Cyclones’ crafty defensive coordinator, Jon Heacock, was just a year old.
Beating a state rival is huge, no matter which side you root for. But in Iowa State’s case, it’s not bigger than what can happen the following Saturday against an Oklahoma team that’s No. 5 in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll.
More Cy-Hawk from Tuesday:
- PETERSON: Julian Good-Jones' spot is wherever ISU needs him
- Observations from Matt Campbell's presser
- Campbell talks about the suspension decision, process
- Ferentz on David Montgomery: 'I don't know if we'll see a better back this season'
It’s not bigger than what can happen Sept. 29 at TCU. Or Nov. 17 at Texas.
And it's certainly not bigger than what can happen at The Jack against Kansas State on Nov. 24.
Those are league games that affect who plays for a conference title.
Those are league games that determine how prestigious your bowl could be.
So, is Saturday Iowa State’s Super Bowl, as fans like to call it? I think not.
When Kempt runs onto the Kinnick turf as a starter for the first time before Saturday’s 4 p.m. game, also remember this: It’s not like he hasn’t played in an emotionally-charged environment. It’s not like he hasn’t succeeded in an emotionally-charged stadium.
He did it at Oklahoma, four days after he learned that he’d be starting. That counts for something.
“That game gave us the confidence that we can go into a tough environment and win games,” Kempt said Tuesday. “Me, personally — it was big for my confidence.”
He beat Memphis in its own town, also. That, counts for something, too, right?
Iowa is a four-point favorite to beat the Cyclones. Oklahoma was a 31-point favorite last year.
My point is that players such as Kempt, David Montgomery, Hakeem Butler, Julian Good-Jones and Brian Peavy have played in hostile environments. They’ve won in hostile environments.
They truly respect the Hawkeyes and the hallowed stadium in which they play. But these guys won’t be intimidated.
“It’s a great game to play in — here or at Kinnick,” junior receiver Deshaunte Jones said. “They’re both great environments.”
“Kinnick is definitely in my top five,” Jones said when asked about tough environments in which he played. “Oklahoma is pretty tough. West Virginia is pretty tough.”
I asked senior Willie Harvey the same question. He paused. He contemplated.
“I would say — maybe Texas,” he said of the venue in which the Cyclones have not won since 2015. “That stadium is so big. There’s so many more people.”
There will be 69,250 fans at Kinnick, 64,000 or so cheering for the Hawkeyes. There were 86,000 fans at Memorial Stadium in Norman last year, 84,000 of whom were left wondering what just struck them.
“It’ll be a great environment at Iowa,” Kempt said. “It’s a rival game, so there’s a different aspect of that.
“With Oklahoma — they’re in the same conference with us, but Iowa is a much different atmosphere in that aspect.”
Kempt completed 18 of 24 passes for 343 yards and three touchdowns in the big road upset. Success on Saturday will depend on a lot of things — including Montgomery rushing for 125 or so yards, Butler having a big day and the Cyclones occasionally successfully blocking defensive ends Anthony Nelson and Parker Hesse — or A.J. Epenesa or whoever else plays on the defensive edge.
“They’re great up front,” Kempt said. “They haven’t changed over the past course of time. It’ll be a very good defense.”
It usually is — and whatever happens, remember that Saturday success would be No. 2 on Kempt’s personal resume.
Right behind that big win that silenced 86,000 people at the Oklahoma game.
Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson has been with the Register for parts of five decades. Randy writes opinion and analysis of Iowa State football and basketball. You can reach Randy at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @RandyPete.