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Jake Trotter, ESPN Staff Writer 12d

Inside the play: Allen Lazard TD caps Iowa State's massive upset of OU

NORMAN, Okla. -- After watching film all week, Iowa State Cyclones wide receiver Allen Lazard knew that in that moment Saturday, Oklahoma Sooners cornerback Jordan Thomas would try to jam him at the line of scrimmage.

And before that moment, Cyclones coach Matt Campbell had a "gut feeling" that Oklahoma would try to bring the house.

As 31-point underdogs, Iowa State snagged one of the biggest wins in school history while shaking up the College Football Playoff race with a shocking 38-31 victory over the third-ranked Sooners.

The play that delivered the upset, well, had been building all game. And for that matter, all week.

Tuesday, third-string quarterback Kyle Kempt found out he would be getting his first career start at Oklahoma. Jacob Park had taken a leave of absence for "personal health issues." And the Cyclones decided they'd go with the senior over redshirt freshman Zeb Noland in Norman, a place they hadn't won in since 1990.

"I love Kyle's consistency," Campbell said. "He doesn't have a lot of flair. But he's a guy that stands for what you want your football team to stand for, and that's great poise."

When it mattered most, the poise of Kempt, a walk-on computer science major who was a high school valedictorian, came through.

Once Oklahoma scored to tie the game 31-31 with 7:18 to play, the Cyclones believed the ensuing drive would be their chance to win. After an unsportsmanlike penalty on Oklahoma helped ignite the drive, Kempt coolly hit Marchie Murdock for a first down into Sooners territory. After four consecutive runs, the Cyclones faced third-and-7 from the Oklahoma 25 with just over two minutes left.

"We knew we were in field goal range," Campbell said. "We didn't want to take a sack. And yet we wanted to get Allen in the best matchup we could."

Four years ago, Lazard had been a landmark recruiting victory for the Cyclones. They were able to hold off Notre Dame for the in-state blue-chipper, whose father had played for Iowa State in the early 1990s. Lazard instantly became a starter, and soon after, the Cyclones' best player. This year, he was a preseason All-Big 12 selection. But with only 24 receptions coming into the weekend, his senior year had been underwhelming. With the quarterback uncertainty, Campbell pulled Lazard aside earlier in the week and told him he needed to step up and finally play like he was capable.

"When Allen is playing his best," Campbell said, "he's got a chance to be one of the best in the country."

This was a prime opportunity for Lazard to show he was among the best. And Campbell trusted that Kempt, who had already thrown two touchdown passes, would be able to place the ball in position for Lazard to do just that.

Campbell had tracked that Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops had brought pressure on three of the previous four Iowa State third downs, while playing man coverage behind the blitz. On this critical down, Campbell figured the Sooners would do the same again. That would give the Cyclones one stab at the end zone with Lazard before they'd have to settle for a field goal.

So Iowa State dialed up a go-route to Lazard.

"We thought they'd come man-pressure," Campbell said. "And they did."

Wide left out of the four-receiver, shotgun formation, Lazard predicted from his film sessions that Thomas would be playing up on him and would try to hold him up at the line of scrimmage on the snap. Sure enough, Thomas did.

"I saw him twitch his feet, so I knew it was coming," Lazard said of the jam. "I timed up the snap with his jump. And I was able to get outside leverage, because he was head up to outside."

As he whiffed on Lazard, Thomas stumbled trying to keep pace, which allowed Lazard to generate even more space. Back in the pocket, running back David Montgomery helped pick up Oklahoma's linebacker blitz, giving Kempt the time and space to complete his three-step drop and fling the ball down the sideline to Lazard.

"They pressed up on Allen, which gave us the play to take a shot," Kempt said. "That was us giving the best player on our team a chance to win the game."

Thomas tried to turn his head in time, but it was too late. Lazard already had a read on the ball. And he jumped and hauled in the pass before Oklahoma safety Chanse Sylvie could arrive in time to help.

"Kempt threw a good ball," Lazard said. "And I was able to go up and make a play."

Lazard, an avid FIFA video-gamer, tried to get up and do the bear crawl celebration from the game. But he was immediately buried by teammates, including fellow receiver Deshaunte Jones. So instead, when he emerged from the pile, Lazard settled for the Gareth Bale "heart" sign.

Iowa State's defense then forced Baker Mayfield to throw a tipped incompletion on fourth down, and Kempt returned to the field one final time to take a knee, giving the Cyclones only their sixth win against Oklahoma ever in 82 tries.

"We believed in each other, and believed we could do it," Lazard said. "And we did."

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