When I looked up to see Iowa State: 24 Texas: 0, I really didn’t believe my eyes. I actually had one of my friends slap me because I thought I was dreaming (true story). Going into the game against the Longhorns, I really didn’t think the Cyclones stood much of a chance, especially since Texas had just beat Oklahoma a few short weeks ago and dominated Kansas State last week. Now don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t change my stance on whether I think Iowa State is a good football team this year, because they aren’t, but at least they showed some fight and heart out there on Saturday.
Coming into the game against Texas, Iowa State was 2-5, with their wins coming against two god awful teams: FCS Northern Iowa and Kansas. The offense was so bad in those first seven games that Paul Rhoads elected to fire offensive coordinator Mark Mangino and replace veteran quarterback Sam Richardson with sophomore Joel Lanning.
Maybe that was the spark this Cyclone team needed though because they looked like a completely different team on Saturday.
The Cyclones offense looked like a well-oiled machine against Texas, as they carved up the Longhorn’s defense with ease. Freshman running back Mike Warren, one of the only bright spots on this Iowa State team this year, continued his impressive work on the ground as he carried the ball 32 times for 157 yards and a touchdown. I don’t want to jinx anything, but Warren looks like the real deal; and he’s only a freshman!
For making his first ever start, Joel Lanning looked pretty good; granted, he did struggle at times and it was against a Texas’ team that can’t seem to find it’s identity. With that being said though, he finished 19 of 37 for 188 yards with a touchdown and no picks, plus he added 64 yards on the ground. Whether Lanning is the answer to Iowa State’s quarterback struggles is yet to be determined, but it was nice to see a Cyclone quarterback finally make some plays.
Yes, the offense finally put some points up on the board, but the more surprising aspect of this game was the defense. Up until this game, Iowa State’s defense was terrible (and that’s putting it nicely). Coming into this game, the Cyclones were allowing 33.9 points per game and it looked like a peewee football team could run all over them.
And then they pitch a shutout against Texas? How does that make any sense? The simple answer for all you fans out there: it doesn’t.
Even though I still don’t know how they shut the Longhorns out, I’m not going to complain about it. For the first time since I can remember, the Cyclone’s defense looked like they knew what they were doing. They held the Longhorn’s offense to 204 total yards of offense and the Longhorns only crossed the 50-yard line three times during the ENTIRE game! They finally started to get some pressure on the opposing quarterback and were finally making the tackles every Iowa State fan is accustomed to seeing them miss. I don’t know what Rhoads said or gave to the players before the game, but hopefully he does the same thing next week.
With the win, it should take some of the pressure off of Rhoads, even though I think he should still be fired at the end of the season. After all, the win against Texas was just his second Big 12 win in the last 13 tries and if that doesn’t scream, ‘I should be fired’, I don’t know what does.
Who knows though, maybe the Cyclones will run the table and finish 7-5 and make a bowl game. Do I think that is going to happen? Absolutely not. Could it though? Stranger things have.
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