AMES, Iowa (AP) — Oklahoma State and Iowa State can still reach the Big 12 title game.
But Saturday's meeting might be an elimination game for two teams coming off losses that altered the trajectory of their season.
The 12th-ranked Cowboys (7-2, 4-2 Big 12, No. 15 CFP) and 24th-ranked Cyclones (6-3, 4-2, No. 21 CFP) are now tied with West Virginia for third in the conference behind Oklahoma and TCU, both 5-1 in the Big 12.
Since the Sooners and Horned Frogs also play on Saturday, the winner in Ames and the loser in Norman will own the same Big 12 record with two games to go.
The challenge for each team will be to bounce back from a tough loss— the Cowboys lost to rival Oklahoma 62-52 and Iowa State fell at West Virginia 20-16, snapping a four-game winning streak — and be ready to go on what promises to be a cold and gray morning.
"You want to be in it in November," Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said. "We're there right now and it's great. It doesn't mean we've arrived. There's still a lot of work to do."
The matchup to watch will be Oklahoma State's offense, which leads all Power 5 teams with 45.3 points per game, against Iowa State's stingy defense. The Cyclones are second in the Big 12 in scoring defense and have held each of their first six league opponents to at least 10 points below their scoring average.
"I don't think anybody could've predicted what they've done this season. They're in every game, or they win against people that somebody thought they didn't have a chance against. He's an up-and-coming guy," Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said about Campbell and the Cyclones.
Cowboys quarterback Mason Rudolph has already thrown for 3,314 yards and 27 touchdowns with a 63.3 completion percentage.
But the Cyclones have befuddled opposing quarterbacks by giving them unique and multiple looks on defense. Iowa State pulled off its 38-31 upset of Oklahoma in part because it kept Baker Mayfield from throwing a TD pass in the fourth quarter.