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THROUGH THE YEARS | Matt Campbell's route from landing at Iowa State to Big 12 title game

In Year 5 of the Matt Campbell Era, the Cyclones are on the verge of school history: winning a Big 12 Championship Game.

AMES, Iowa — In Year 5 of the Matt Campbell Era, the No. 6 (CFP) Iowa State Cyclones (8-2, 8-1) are headed to their first-ever Big 12 Championship Game against the No. 10 Oklahoma Sooners (7-2, 6-2).

For Campbell, getting here can only, fittingly, be described as a process.

It was Nov. 30, 2015 when ISU Director of Athletics Jamie Pollard introduced Campbell as the Cyclones' next top man.

In four years at Toledo, he had led the Rockets to three separate nine-win season.

"We wanted a person that fit those needs: tough-minded midwestern based who can recruit," Pollard said following the hire. "We hit a home run on every one of those points."

It hasn't always come easy for Campbell at Iowa State and success hasn't always been linear. For all the positives—such as three straight bowl games—there have been letdowns

"At Iowa State you're going to have to win in the margins," Campbell said after this  year's season-opening, 31-14 loss to Louisiana. "And if you refuse to win in the margins it's really going to be hard for us to have success and it's a tough way to learn it."

But in five years at the helm, Campbell's message has never changed.

If you fall in love with the process, then eventually the process will love you back.

The famed 2017 speech didn't result with a dream finish to the season.

Neither did the next two: they were just more steps in the process. 

And Iowa State's national coming out party last December against Notre Dame was not to be. 

All growing pains for a program trying to get to a place it hasn't been.

"I think long-term goals for me are really simple, is to build a program and build something that hasn't been done and take a program to a championship level," Campbell said in December 2015.

Five years later, Campbell has done that. 

And on Saturday, his Cyclones stare down 108 years of history on a 100-yard field in Arlington, Texas.

But if you ask that tough-minded Midwesterner, he'd probably tell you: it's just another step in the process

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Credit: AP
New Iowa State head football coach Matt Campbell speaks during a news conference, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015, in Ames, Iowa. Campbell, who replaces the recently fired Paul Rhoads, was the coach at Toledo this past season. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Year-by-year results

***Indicates game using College Football Playoff Rankings; all others AP Top 25

2016 (3-9, 2-7)

  • UNI 25, Iowa State 20
  • No. 16 Iowa 42, Iowa State 3
  • TCU 41, Iowa State 20
  • Iowa State 44, San Jose State 10
  • No. 13 Baylor 45, Iowa State 42
  • Oklahoma State 38, Iowa State 31
  • Texas 27, Iowa State 6
  • Kansas State 31, Iowa State 26
  • ***No. 14 Oklahoma 34, Iowa State 24
  • Iowa State 31, Kansas 24
  • Iowa State 66, Texas Tech 10
  • ***No. 18 West Virginia 49, Iowa State 19
Credit: AP
Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell, center, watches from the sideline during the second half of an NCAA college football game against West Virginia, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

2017 (8-5, 5-4)

  • Iowa State 42, UNI 24
  • Iowa 44, Iowa State 41 (OT)
  • Iowa State 41, Akron 14
  • Texas 17, Iowa State 7
  • Iowa State 38, No. 3 Oklahoma 31
  • Iowa State 45, Kansas 0
  • Iowa State 35, Texas Tech 13
  • No. 25 Iowa State 14, No. 4 TCU 7
  • ***West Virginia 20, No. 15 Iowa State 16
  • ***No. 15 Oklahoma State 49, No. 21 Iowa State 42
  • Iowa State 23, Baylor 13
  • Kansas State 20, Iowa State 19

2017 Liberty Bowl | ***Iowa State 21, No. 20 Memphis 20

Credit: AP
Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell, right, passes the winners' trophy over to his players after beating Memphis in the Liberty Bowl NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. Iowa State won 21-20. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

2018 (8-5, 6-3)

  • Iowa 13, Iowa State 3
  • No. 5 Oklahoma 37, Iowa State 27
  • Iowa State 26, Akron 13
  • TCU 17, Iowa State 14
  • Iowa State 48, No. 25 Oklahoma State 42
  • Iowa State 30, No. 6 West Virginia 14
  • Iowa State 40, Texas Tech 31
  • ***No. 24 Iowa State 27, Kansas 3
  • ***No. 22 Iowa State 28, Baylor 14
  • ***No. 15 Texas 24, No. 16 Iowa State 10
  • ***No. 25 Iowa State 42, Kansas State 38
  • ***No. 23 Iowa State 27, Drake 24

2018 Alamo Bowl | ***No. 13 Washington State 28, No. 24 Iowa State 26

Credit: AP
Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell, center, celebrates with fans on the field after an NCAA college football game against West Virginia, Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

"CyHawk Gameday" will broadcast LIVE from 10:30-11 a.m. Saturday on Local 5, online at WeAreIowa.com/Watch or via the YouTube link below!

2019 (7-6, 5-4)

  • No. 21 Iowa State 29, UNI 26 (3OT)
  • No. 19 Iowa 18, Iowa State 17
  • Iowa State 72, UL Monroe 20
  • Baylor 23, Iowa State 21
  • Iowa State 49, TCU 24
  • Iowa State 38, West Virginia 14
  • Iowa State 34, Texas Tech 24
  • Oklahoma State 34, No. 23 Iowa State 27
  • ***No. 9 Oklahoma 42, Iowa State 41
  • ***Iowa State 23, No. 19 Texas 21
  • ***No. 22 Iowa State 41, Kansas 31
  • ***Kansas State 27, No. 23 Iowa State 17

2019 Camping World Bowl | ***No. 15 Notre Dame 33, Iowa State 9

Credit: AP
Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell, center, watches a field goal attempt during the first half of the Camping World Bowl NCAA college football game against Notre Dame Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

2020 (8-2, 8-1)

  • Louisiana 31, No. 23 Iowa State 14
  • Iowa State 37, TCU 34
  • Iowa State 37, No. 18 Oklahoma 30
  • No. 24 Iowa State 31, Texas Tech 15
  • No. 6 Oklahoma State 24, No. 17 Iowa State 21
  • No. 23 Iowa State 52, Kansas 22
  • No. 17 Iowa State 38, Baylor 31
  • No. 17 Iowa State 45, Kansas State 0
  • ***No. 13 Iowa State 23, No. 17 Texas 20
  • ***No. 9 Iowa State 42, West Virginia 6

Big 12 Championship Game: ***No. 6 Iowa State vs. No 10 Oklahoma

Credit: AP
Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell reacts during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Texas, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)