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Iowa State survives Memphis in the Liberty Bowl 21-20

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It was the Cyclones first bowl win since 2009

NCAA Football: Liberty Bowl-Iowa State vs Memphis Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa State traveled well to Memphis, Tennessee, and came away with a 21-20 win over the Memphis Tigers. It was a game full of drama, but it didn’t quite go the way Memphis wanted.

Allen Lazard was the story of the first half. The Cyclones senior torched the Tigers secondary with 11 catches for 108 yards. It didn’t seem to matter who guarded him as Tigers defenders simply couldn’t compete. TJ Carter and La’Andre Thomas both struggled when matchup up with him, and Memphis’ defensive youth shined through against one of the best receivers in the country. Lazard tied a Liberty Bowl record with 10 catches which resulted in 142 yards and a score.

Running the ball was a struggle for both teams in the first half. The two squads combined to rush 31 times for zero total yards in the first half, and it appeared that both defenses were making it a point to stop the run. It was definitely working as neither offense seemed to be comfortable early on.

Memphis started the second half a lot faster, as they marched right down the field and capped off the drive with an impressive touchdown pass to Phil Mayhue. Mayhue tied a season-high with five catches for 85 yards and a touchdown. Tigers star receiver Anthony Miller was held in check with just four catches for 55 yards and a score, but the pass game was at least consistent.

Darrell Henderson did not participate in the game with a leg injury, which led to Patrick Taylor being the featured back. Outside of two runs, Taylor struggled immensely because he had nowhere to run. The Tigers offensive line struggled mightily to create holes against the Cyclones defense. Taylor had two big runs which made it seem that the offense was going to explode, but that never happened

The first half was a low scoring affair, and it seemed like the third quarter might change that. Unfortunately, the pace remained the same, and the score was 21-20 heading into the fourth quarter.

It looked like Iowa State was headed to a 28-20 lead, but David Montgomery fumbled as he crossed the goal line and Memphis recovered. It appeared that he actually scored before losing the ball, but replay couldn’t overturn the call on the field. Memphis took the ball and was marching down the field until four passes fell incomplete and the Cyclones took over. Joel Lanning ran for a first down and Iowa State ended the game from there.

Memphis certainly had plenty of opportunities to win this one. There were times where they torched the Cyclones defense, but couldn’t sustain enough drives to get points on the board. It was certainly a tough way for the Tigers to send their seniors off, but it also proved that they can play with Power 5 competition.

We will look ahead to the 2018 soon, so stay tuned to Underdog Dynasty for a season summary and a preview of the next season as well.