Those who care to read my blog may have been wondering why there was no update following the huge win in Austin. The truth is I didn’t get to watch the game live as I was driving home from that “well-timed” vacation I mentioned in my last post. In fact, as we were leaving the northwoods of Wisconsin, I had to rely on nearly play-by-play text message updates from a buddy to know what was going on. (Thanks, Jay.) So, since I didn’t actually get to see a full replay until about 48 hours after the fact, I wasn’t going to pretend as if I had something fresh to talk about.
The win over the Longhorns was huge, and so was Saturday’s victory against KU. Under Rhoads, the Cyclones still have yet to lose a game as an obvious favorite, while pulling off a few nice upsets along the way. It’s a nice trend, and one of the big reasons why the Cyclones need just one win in their final three games if they want to return to a bowl. The Cyclones started slow on Saturday afternoon, but didn’t panic, and put the accelerator to the floor in the 3rd quarter. In a matter of minutes, the prevailing fan sentiment in Jack Trice Stadium shifted from “oh no” to “oh yeah!”
For the most part, the Cyclones didn’t do much before the 15 minutes that made up the 3rd quarter, which was really the storyline on Saturday. The Cyclones struggled out of the gate, to say the least, trailing 7-9 going into half. But unlike Iowa State teams in past years, the Cyclones were unfazed by their own poor performance to open the game. It was one of those situations where it would have surprised very few fans to see bad turn to worse. Instead, bad turned to very good, and the team and fan cultures continued their march in a new direction.
Now the Cyclones sit at 5-4 (3-2) with three cracks at nailing down win number six. It may not seem like a daunting task on the surface, but the Cyclones will have to face the top two teams in the North in Nebraska and Missouri (who also happen to be two of the best teams in the conference), as well as Colorado. Everything is pointing to the Colorado game as the game, and I would be digging deep into the bowl projections if that game was in Ames. Unfortunately, it’s in Boulder, which is a place where the Cyclones have often found creative ways to lose football games.
Personally, I’ll be a big Jayhawks fan this weekend. If the Jayhawks grab their first conference win this Saturday and send the Buffs back home still winless in the Big 12, I will feel much better about Iowa State’s trip west in a couple of weeks. It would be a back-breaking loss for Dan Hawkins and Colorado, and Iowa State could be playing for bowl eligibility against a team with no soul and an interim coach. And I don’t mean to suggest that Iowa State has zero chance against Nebraska this Saturday. (I’ve been surprised on a couple of occasions already this season.) I’m simply calling it like I see it.
It’s already been an enjoyable season, and it has the potential to become much more as we close out the final quarter. Regardless of what happens, it’s great to feel confident that Iowa State football is heading solidly in the right direction. Many of us haven’t felt this way for several years.