The No. 4 TCU Horned Frogs' College Football Playoff hopes took a significant hit Saturday, as the No. 25 Iowa State Cyclones upset them 14-7 at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa.
TCU suffered its first loss of the season and dropped to 7-1, while Iowa State moved its winning streak to four in a row and improved to 6-2.
The contest was largely a defensive struggle, with the Cyclones holding the Horned Frogs out of the end zone on offense and forcing three turnovers.
TCU also made its fair share of mistakes with 11 penalties for 104 yards, while Iowa State was penalized just four times for 34 yards.
Senior quarterback Kyle Kempt continued his winning ways for the Cyclones, improving to 4-0 as the starter while throwing for 202 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Following Iowa State's road win over the then-No. 3 Oklahoma Sooners on Oct. 7, Saturday's triumph was its second victory against a Top Five opponent in the past four weeks.
According to ESPN Stats and Info, the Cyclones improved to 2-10-2 all-time in games against AP Top 25 teams with the win.
Although there wasn't much offense to speak of Saturday, Iowa State got off to a solid start behind Kempt.
On the Cyclones' second drive, Kempt took them 85 yards on nine plays, concluding with a 17-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Matthew Eaton.
At that point, Doug Gottlieb of Fox Sports 1 noted how incredible the walk-on quarterback's story has been this season:
Kempt wasn't done in the first half, as he orchestrated another touchdown drive that concluded with less than four minutes remaining in the second quarter.
He made a perfect pass to sophomore wide receiver Hakeem Butler for a four-yard touchdown that was nearly indefensible.
Cody Goodwin of the Des Moines Register noted that the size disparity between Iowa State's receivers and TCU's defensive backs created a major mismatch:
With the score 14-0 in favor of Iowa State at halftime, TCU looked listless and out of sorts despite its No. 4 ranking.
Carlos A. Mendez of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram observed that Iowa State had closed the talent gap considerably in comparison to previous years:
The complexion of the game changed on the first play of the third quarter when KaVontae Turpin returned the kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown, which cut the Cyclones' lead in half after the extra point from Jonathan Song.
Mike Leslie of WFAA described the play and how effectively TCU's return unit blocked for Turpin:
This season, Turpin has been a do-everything weapon on offense and special teams, and he joined some impressive company over the past decade with the kickoff-return score, per ESPN Stats and Info:
Defense reigned supreme from that point forward, as the teams combined for four turnovers in the second half.
The Cyclones came through with a huge interception near the midway point of the third quarter when TCU appeared to be driving toward the tying score.
Brian Peavy picked off Kenny Hill at the goal line and returned it 70 yards to the TCU 30-yard line to give Iowa State a chance to add to its lead.
Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register discussed the fact that Iowa State's defense has recently come up big in important moments:
As significant as that play was, an even bigger one occurred in the fourth quarter when Hill lost a fumble on a 2nd-and-goal play from ISU's 3-yard line.
Hill had a rough afternoon overall with 135 passing yards, no touchdowns, two picks and one fumble lost.
Iowa State was unable to find any offensive rhythm in the second half, but its defense put the game away with 1:16 remaining in the fourth when Marcel Spears Jr. picked off Hill to seal the upset.
The Cyclones find themselves tied atop the Big 12 with TCU and Oklahoma State at 4-1, but they have tough matchups on the horizon over the next two weeks with No. 22 West Virginia and No. 11 Oklahoma State.
As for TCU, its CFP fate no longer rests solely in its hands, but with just one of its final four games against a ranked opponent (Oklahoma), its chances of playing for a national title aren't gone.