Williams: Don’t Settle for Shreveport

Something special is happening.

We might not see it this year. But in time, I feel like we’re in for an awesome ride. After Iowa State’s loss to Kansas a few weeks ago, I remember writing that there were only two games left on the schedule that I thought were unwinnable for the Cyclones. I put @ Nebraska and @ Missouri on that list. I was dead wrong.

Since that day, Iowa State has already won in Lincoln and it looks like Mizzou might start off the conference season 0-4. With four weeks to go, what game isn’t winnable for Iowa State?

Sure, Oklahoma State is really good, but they’re also missing their best player and with an extremely cold day in Ames, anything can happen.

Now again, I’m not sitting here today telling you all to start booking plane tickets for Dallas and the Big 12 Championship Game. I’m just so blown away with how far this team has come in such a short period of time, there’s no reason to think that six wins is all that ISU can get.

Do you guys remember Iowa State’s run defense against North Dakota State? Remember the name Pat Paschall? That’s the FCS Bison who torched ISU for 151 rushing yards while averaging seven yards per carry.

I can’t guarantee it, but I’d bet the farm he wouldn’t do that now.

Physically, the team is a lot better, but I really believe that this squad is winning through mental toughness. I’ve seen this team grow over the past month. Now that hasn’t always resulted in victories, but they have grown mentally.

In the Kansas State game for instance, the drive at the end of the game showed me a lot. Yes, the PAT ultimately got blocked, but that was a textbook two-minute drill. That’s a drive that might not have happened a year ago, especially on the road.

In the Kansas game, when Iowa State got down at the half, I thought the thing was over. There’s no need for me to lie about it. I figured that KU would win the game by 20-30 points. That didn’t happen. Again, more growth.

In yesterday’s press conference, Coach Rhoads pointed out how his team grew up in the middle of the Nebraska game. The Cyclones were on the verge of losing that thing when they got down 7-3. After a forced turnover and a touchdown, I don’t think that a Cyclone (fan or player) in the stadium ever really felt comfortable.

It was ugly, but the good guys held on. That’s maturity. There are no gray areas here. You either win or you lose. The Cyclones won. That’s growth.

Now, a really weird road-game with Texas A&M looms for Iowa State.

I wrote this last week but I really want to reiterate it today. For the first time since I’ve been covering the Clones, this team doesn’t scare me when they leave Ames. In the past, a guy could almost pencil in a L for Iowa State on the road, regardless of who the opponent was. That’s just not the case anymore.

A win would make Iowa State bowl eligible. There’s been a lot of chatter out there about a potential match-up with Gene Chizik and Auburn in the always-glorious Impendence Bowl in beautiful Shreveport.

This would obviously be quite the storyline. Guys like me would have a heyday with this one. In fact, I’m already salivating all over my laptop.

Having said that, I really think that it is in Iowa State’s best interest to shoot for something a little more than Shreveport. Granted, any bowl game would be a huge win for this team. I know that. But why not shoot for the stars? Why not shoot for a North title?

It’s not like any other team has been dominating this division. Iowa State has four games remaining and I think that they have a shot to win every single one of them. The chances of Iowa State winning out are slim, but at least we know they’ll be in the conversation.