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Football

Blum: Puzzle Solved

By Brent Blum, CycloneFanatic.com ColumnistFollow Brent on Twitter @BrentBlum

To quote the always quotable Tommy Callahan, "I’ve seen a lot of stuff in my life, but that was awesome!" Call it what you want: a Paul Rhoads special, a domination, a beat-down.

The only thing that was missing was Iowa State pulling a Shaq on Texas Tech’s Kobe,  "Hey Kobe, tell me how my … tastes."  (And it is entirely possible Kelechi Osemele did something similar after mauling the Tech D-Line to the turf time and again.)

We’ve seen the Cyclones under Rhoads and Company pull unexpected wins from the abyss, but this wasn’t Nebraska having a catastrophic eight turnovers, or Texas and Iowa being more mediocre than anyone realized. This was a total destruction from the get-go.

As I was walking around Jones AT&T stadium prior to the game, there was some interesting signage hung everywhere around the Tech locker room and practice facility. It read, "October 2, 2010. 52-38. REMEMBER."

A 34-point defeat later and Tech apparently needs to order some more Ginkgo Biloba to aid their memory.  That reminder sign worked about as well as a wedding gift to Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries.

(Which brings me to a quick aside. Did you know Humphries once went on an official visit to Iowa State. After he de-committed from Duke in 2003 it was down to Iowa State, Indiana and Minnesota to land his services. He eventually chose Minnesota and the rest is mediocre basketball and television history. But what if Wayne Morgan had landed Humphries? Do Curtis Stinson and Will Blalock introduce him to an Iowa girl that he settles down with? Does Aaron Agnew–miss the big fella– share with Humprhies his diet plan and it is actually Humphries that grows the Charles Barkley-esque back-side and not Kardashian? So many questions that could have altered the Kardashian universe.)

Back to Football. Paul Rhoads has recently become a fan of using the phrase, "We need to put the pieces of the puzzle together, together."

The Cyclones did that and more. Heck even the officiating breaks went the Cyclones way. It ended with the Tech fans, some of who were wearing their brand new, "OU Didn’t" t-shirts, streaming out in droves.

Let’s start with the defense. If they don’t force a quick Tech punt on the first possession, the entire complexion of the game could have been different. Wally Burnham’s squad reverted back to the form we hoped for this season. A sure tacking, fundamentally-sound group that forced turnovers and covered in the secondary extremely well.

Quietly, the Iowa State secondary is having a fantastic season. Kudos to secondary coach Bob Elliot’s ‘fellas. They are third in the Big 12 in pass defense, allowing a shade over 230 yards per game and held Baylor and Tech to their respective season lows in pass yardage. (Although the pass defense stat is a little like ordering a diet coke with a Triple Baconator at Wendy’s. Sure it is good on paper, but if teams are running the ball at will, they aren’t inclined to throw it.) That said Leonard Johnson, Jeremy Reeves, Ter’Ran Benton and Jacques Washington have been pretty salty all year long.

I think this secondary ranks up there with the Hobbs, Jackson, Paris, Hicks and Moser group from ’04-05 for best Cyclone secondary in my cognitive lifetime.

It was great to see Benton and Reeves get the Cyclone secondary’s first two interceptions since the Texas game over a year ago. It had been long enough.

Iowa State held Tech to seven points, it was the first time in 11 years a squad held the high-powered Raider attack to seven points or less at home (2000 vs. Nebraska). Pretty remarkable stuff.

Now to the offensive end of things. I’m a huge fan of the HBO show Hard Knocks. Most of you are aware of this show, it is the documentary style production that followed around past NFL teams as they grind away in training camp. The 2010 version featured the always lively Rex Ryan and the Jets. Ryan’s language on the show would make Larry Eustachy blush, but the portly head coach is entertaining. (YouTube it to get a taste, but it is very NSFW language.) While watching the Iowa State game from the booth on Saturday, a couple Rex-isms kept popping into my head, "We’re going to ground and pound the living …. outta ya! Now let’s go eat a … …. snack!"

Sixty-seven carries, 368 yards, four touchdowns. Whoa. The 67 rushing attempts were the most by an Iowa State club since a 57-30 win over UNLV in 1995. (A game I’m convinced Troy Davis could have cleared the 400 yard mark with ease and broken the NCAA record for most rushing yards in a game. Davis had 302 yards before being pulled mid-way through the 3rd quarter. UNLV had the Roger Dorn "OLEY" defense down to a science that day.)

My man Ben Bruns was so giddy on the sideline seeing the offensive line dominate that we almost had to hold him back from jumping in for Tom Farniok for a few snaps.

In the "obvious stat is obvious" department, Iowa State is now 63-3 when they rush for over 300 yards in a game. Including a 357-yard effort against Luther in 1934. We can only assume Cyclone captain Don Theophilus and head coach George Veenker had a — — snack after that game.

Zach Guyer also made a critical field goal to answer the Tech score and swing the momentum back to the Cyclone sideline. Not to mention Matt "The Mad Man" Morton (everybody looks more intimidating with a padded neck roll) and Jansen Watson doing work on the kick-off cover units.

It was extremely refreshing to see the Cyclones as the aggressor,  the one throwing the relentless punches.  After taking it on the chin for four straight weeks, it was as if the Cyclones were Ralphie from "A Christmas Story" letting loose on bully Scut Farkas:

"Deep in the recesses of my brain, a tiny red-hot flame began to grow. Something had happened. A fuse blew and I was out of my skull."

Iowa State took Tech behind Mike Leach’s electrical closet and didn’t let up.

There are three times that have I seen the Cyclones play a virtually perfect game against a solid opponent. The 42-14 victory at Texas A&M in 2005. Fizer, Tinsley and company humiliating UCLA 80-56 in the 2000 Sweet 16 and Saturday’s ground and pound punishment in Lubbock.

It is a game you will back on 30 years from now and think, "Wow, how did that happen."

The Cyclones put the pieces of the puzzle together, together.