enCYCLONEpedia: A Paul Rhoads Special

By Kirk Haaland, Contributor

Kirk Haaland has been a contributor to Cyclone Fanatic for more than two years and has his own Iowa State Football & Basketball website,  There, you can read more of his Cyclone related content including historical data and current day coverage.

Follow Kirk on Twitter:  @khaal53

I was duped.

Just when I had started to believe and spread the idea that a signature road upset every year was not a guarantee, the Cyclones go and do a thing like that.

Iowa State combined one of the best rushing performances in school history with one of the best defensive performances en route to an astounding victory.  Texas Tech may not have been the best top 25 team that ISU has ever competed with, they may have a pretty terrible rush defense, but to hold that offense to seven points and statistical lows across the board was a phenomenal feat.

The Red Raiders had gone 69 straight games completing a touchdown pass and the last time they were held to seven points or fewer in a home game came on October 14th, 2000 in a 56-3 loss to Nebraska.  Who would’ve figured the Cyclone defense that has been gashed and allowed explosive numbers for opponent’s offenses could accomplish that?  The defense gets the credit but the offense gets the assist.

The statistics to back up the improbability of that win by such a large margin are nearly never ending…

  • Thirty-four points is the largest ever victory over a ranked team. The previous high was 22 points in the 36-14 win over #20 Nebraska in 2002 (ISU was ranked #19 at the time).
  • Prior to the Texas Tech win on Saturday there had been 15 times in the history of Cyclone football that they won any road game by 34+ points.  The most recent was a 49-7 win at Kansas in 2001.  That is followed by a 41-6 win at Air Force in 1976, a 41-0 win at Colorado State in 1972, and a 1959 41-0 win at Drake.  The other 11 all occurred prior to 1924.
  • Forty-one points was the second most points scored by an ISU team on the road versus a ranked foe.  The highest came in a 49-42 loss to #11 Colorado in 1992.
  • The seven points scored by Tech was the fewest by any ranked team since #8 Iowa came to Ames in 2005 and scored just three points.  The last time a road ranked team scored that few points against ISU was in 1981, when ISU tied #5 Oklahoma 7-7 (ISU was ranked #20 at the time).
  •  The last time a road ranked team amassed fewer than the 290 yards that Texas Tech posted on Saturday was in 1981 when #7 Nebraska totaled 272 yards in a 31-7 Husker win.
  • The 368 rushing yards posted by Iowa State was the most ever versus a ranked team on the road.  The previous high came in a 21-17 win at #7 Missouri in 1972.
  • The only other time that Iowa State has ran the ball for more than 368 yards in a conference road game was in 1962 when the Cyclones ground out 404 rushing yards at Oklahoma State.

Does that help to put the performance from Saturday into perspective?  The win was not only historically impressive but with a very tough slate still remaining this season, it kept the hope for bowl eligibility alive.

It was the unforeseen win that was needed to re-inspire hopes of making a warm Cyclone Football vacation in December.  Curiously, the team sits in a very similar position after last year’s surprising win over Texas.

4-4 overall.  Kansas at home.  Top ten team at home to follow.

Last season, Iowa State came up just short against #9 Nebraska in overtime before losing out at Colorado and at home to Missouri.  Similar circumstances lie ahead in 2011.

Can ISU duplicate the win over Kansas after an emotional road upset from 2010?  Can they take a top 10 team to the brink at home? (A game where ISU will have a bye week the Saturday before and Oklahoma State will be coming off of a road game in Lubbock).  Can they somehow, some way, find the fifth and sixth victories of the season?

In the past, it has been a difficult task for ISU.  In the past 41 seasons of Cyclone football there have been 16 occasions that Iowa State needed two or three wins in the final five games to reach bowl eligibility—it only happened four times (1978, 1989, 2004, & 2005).  In those same 41 seasons there has only been eight times where ISU won three of their final five games no matter the starting point (1971, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1989, 2000, 2004, & 2005).  You can read more about that in an article I posted last week, “The ‘Countup’ to Bowl Eligibility”.

That is the feat the 2011 Cyclones need to accomplish to reach a bowl game…against one of the most difficult schedules in school history.  If they make six wins they certainly will have earned it.

Now, from the program perspective…

  • Before Paul Rhoads became the head coach of Iowa State, the Cyclones had won three games versus ranked teams on the road in the history of the program.  In two and a half years, Paul Rhoads has played six games against ranked opponents on the road and won two of them.
  • There have been 32 head coaches in the history of Iowa State football and seven of them had worse career winning percentages at Iowa State than Paul Rhoads has against ranked teams on the road—0.333.  Most recently Gene Chizik.  Dan McCarney’s win percentage of .397 and Jim Walden’s of .335 narrowly beat out Rhoads.
  • Paul Rhoads’ current winning percentage is 0.485 with an overall record of 16-17.  Of coaches that coached at least one full season the most recent coach to have a higher winning percentage other than Earle Bruce (0.529) is Mike Mischalske who coached from 1942-46 and had a winning percentage of 0.500 and an overall record of 18-18-3.

That’s where the program sits under Paul Rhoads after 33 games at the helm.  He’s already producing at nearly a record clip for a Cyclone football coach, if you give him more time who knows what he’ll be able to accomplish.

Oh by the way, after this season Paul Rhoads has just two years remaining on his initial five year contract…time for an extension.