"We had a pregame meal at 2:00 and our team was there eight minutes early, ready to eat," coach Paul Rhoads said. "We were ready to play; when you take the field with conviction, you play different.
Iowa State jumped out to a 24-0 lead but found themselves in a tie game after three quarters. The Cyclones, however, constantly had an answer.
Linebacker AJ Klein said the team just had to stay on an even keel.
"We thought of the game as 0-0," Klein said. "We just had to play with great tempo and step up to another level."
Alexander Robinson and Shontrelle Johnson both cracked the century mark with 103 and 102 yards, respectively, as the Cyclones controlled the and rushed for 251 yards on 50 carries. That was the first time two Cyclones ran for over 100 yards since the 2004 Independence Bowl (Bret Meyer and Stevie Hicks). Austen Arnaud made key throws and managed the game well despite a nagging shoulder injury, throwing for 190 yards and a career-high four touchdowns.
"I don't think I have ever thrown that many touchdowns," Arnaud said.
Both teams struggled a bit out of the gate but Iowa State finally got it going after Texas Tech missed a field goal. The Cyclones first went three-and-out but got a first down when punter Kirby Van Der Kamp ran for 17 and a first down on fourth down. Iowa State was able to get into the red zone but had a halfback touchdown pass from Robinson to Jake Williams called back. Grant Mahoney then made it 3-0 with a 35-yard field goal.
"We just had to be consistent and execute all night," Robinson said.
A Red Raider three-and-out gave Iowa State great field position and the Cyclones were able to extend their lead to ten on an Arnaud 36-yard TD pass to Darius Reynolds. The teams then traded punts but Texas Tech fumbled theirs and Iowa State got the ball 18 yards from paydirt. Arnaud hit Josh Lenz two plays later for six points, and after another Red Raider punt, Robinson set up his one-yard touchdown run with a 65-yard jaunt earlier in the drive to make it 24-0.
"We got guys in space tonight and then made some explosive plays tonight," Arnaud said.
The half was far from over as Texas Tech went right down and scored when Eric Stephens recovered his own fumble in the end zone. Iowa State then punted and snapped the ball over Van Der Kamp's head, giving the Red Raiders the ball at the Cyclone 20. Taylor Potts hit Lyle Leong on the next play to make it 24-14 at the break.
"We gave up a good two-minute drive to a good offense and then had a miscue on the punt," Rhoads said. "I never tell our kids this but at halftime I told them to relax because they were tensed up."
Texas Tech went right down the field after half but the Cyclone defense stiffened late in the drive to force a field goal that cut the lead to seven. The game was tied up at 24 after the Red Raiders got the ball back because Potts hit Leong again for a score.
"We shown a tremendous amount of mental toughness tonight," Rhoads said. "We made plays at times when we haven't some times before."
That was shown in the next two series, when the Cyclones were stopped on fourth down in Tech territory on the next series but got the ball right back when Rashawn Parker recovered a Detron Lewis fumble. Austen Arnaud hit Collin Franklin on third and long for a 27-yard touchdown to give Iowa State back the lead.
"Collin made a great catch," Arnaud said.
Rhoads said he was impressed with Arnaud's toughness all night.
"That was a courageous effort, running and scrambling, knowing you are going to take a shot with a hurt shoulder," Rhoads said. "He showed the faith that this team has in him."
Iowa State forced a quick punt and Johnson went 61 yards to the house on the first play of the subsequent series. Potts hit Stephens from ten yards out on fourth down to cut the lead back to 38-31 on the next Red Raider series, however.
"I have been sitting back being patient and waiting for the chance and it felt good to take advantage of it," Johnson said. "My only focus was on getting the ball to the goal line."
The Cyclones made it tough on the Red Raiders by bleeding six minutes from the clock on the next series before scoring on a four-yard strike from Arnaud to Kurt Hammerschmidt on third and goal. Potts hit Leong from 26 yards away with 90 seconds left, though, and Iowa State was staring at the possibility of having to recover an onside kick.
Jeremy Reeves scored for the second straight week, taking that kick 42 yards to the house to extend the lead back to 14. Klein picked off the 62nd pass that Potts, who had 377 yards, threw to finally ice the game. Klein also has had an interception in three straight games.
"You see the 38 points on the board and you might say the defense played suspect," Rhoads said. "They came up with a number of critical stops, though."