Kyle Kempt's backup star turn for Iowa State is breakthrough performance of the week

Greg Eng

What if we told you the number three team in the nation was going to be upset at home by an unranked opponent starting their backup quarterback? We're guessing you’d look at me as if we had three heads. We might also add the ranked team beat Ohio State and have a top Heisman candidate at quarterback. Now I have five heads, right? Well guess what? It happened last week when Iowa State upset Oklahoma, 38-31, behind backup quarterback Kyle Kempt, the standout performer of the week.

So who is Kyle Kempt? He is the backup quarterback at Iowa State who had thrown a total of two passes in his career. That’s not an exaggeration. Last year he came in against San Jose State when the Cyclones were winning 44-10 and threw two passes on a garbage time drive. This guy is now a senior and hadn’t seen the field since then. Give him credit though: the starting quarterback for the Cyclones had to leave for undisclosed personal medical reasons, and Kempt stepped up to the plate against a tough Oklahoma Sooners team in the biggest way.


This matchup  didn’t favor Kempt in any shape or form. Going into this week, Oklahoma had the current highest win streak in the nation at 14 straight games. Oklahoma had also won the last 18 matchups against Iowa State, dating all the way back to 1990. We’ll even take it a step further: Oklahoma was playing at home against an unranked opponent against Iowa State, a situation in which the Sooners are 89-5. Like Billy Mays would say, but wait there’s more! In the NCAA, top three teams are 207-0 when leading by 14 at home. That was a huge disadvantage, and yet Kempt again rose to the occasion.

After falling behind 14-0 on the game's first two drives, it was time for  Kempt to go to work. By the end of the game, the Cyclones quarterback was 18-for-24 for 343 yards and three touchdowns. Even though he didn’t complete more than 20 passes, he still finished with a 236.3 passer rating. For all the odds against him, Kempt had an amazing performance while going up against one of the top Heisman candidates in their own house. When a team has a fantastic win it all starts with the quarterback. For Iowa State, the Cyclones just needed a quarterback to do something nobody ever expected he could. 

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