EnCYCLONEpedia: Thank You

By Kirk Haaland, ContributorVisit Kirk’s Iowa State website,

The standard thought among the most aged and well versed Cyclone fans is that Iowa State does not pull out games like the one on Friday against Oklahoma State.  Surely, Lucy will pull the ball away at some point, right?  Times, they are changing.

It has been four days and while my voice is still recovering, I am not sure I have any words that can do justice for my thoughts. I rolled into Ames just hoping to keep it close and hang around for awhile.  I slowly and gradually became more and more hopeful.

The pick six was painful and I was cursing about that, the missed field goal and the Barnett fumble inside the red zone up until the point that the game was tied at 24 and the overtime period was guaranteed.

After OSU knotted it up in the first OT I told my brother, “I think we have to get it done in this overtime.”  It wasn’t 10 seconds later that Jake Knott got his paw on a pass intended for Justin Blackmon and it was ultimately intercepted by Ter’Ran Benton.

Woody reeled off the first run and the electricity in the stadium went up a notch.  Woody rumbled for 15 more yards on a twisting and twirling hang on to the ball as tight as you can run and the dam keeping the fans off the field began to spring a few leaks.  Woody one more time…Pandemonium.

There were mistakes and there were miscues by the Cyclone offense but young Jared Barnett and company kept making plays when they had to.  And the defense kept them in it and kept giving them opportunities.

It is another notch on Paul Rhoads’ belt.  Some thought the early win against Iowa was his upset special of the year. No way.  Then, we were led to believe the road win over Texas Tech in dominating fashion was the big one of 2011.  Not so.  Right now, it appears that the big ‘un of twenty-eleven was saved to ruin the national title hopes for the Cowboys from Stillwater.

I say “right now” because I do not doubt for a second that this team can win in Norman.  While beating Oklahoma is the hex of all Cyclone hexes; Paul Rhoads has done nothing but slay these hexes since coming back to Ames.

The 2011 wins before Friday over Iowa and Texas Tech were nice, but it appears now that both teams have struggled to string together much success.

The win over Texas in 2010 was big because it had never been done before and the evil empire that the Longhorns appeared to be running during the conference realignment saga.

The 2009 win over Nebraska was gigantic because it had been more than a generation since the last occurrence and the Huskers have always been an interesting border game for ISU while stopping just short of a rivalry because of their success compared to ISU’s lack thereof.   That game will forever be better known for eight turnovers and a perceived comedy of errors by the national pundits.

But not this game with the Cowboys.  Sure there were turnovers but the three interceptions were created by an ISU defense with hurries and deflections (and besides that, why is it that a defense earning turnovers is used as an attack by the non-believers to discredit a win? Total nonsense.)  These Cowboys weren’t a paper tiger hiding behind the name on the front of their jerseys like the 2010 Longhorns that finished 5-7.  This was a 10-0 team with one of the best offenses anyone has ever seen playing for a national title.

The question came up numerous times last week leading up to the game with Oklahoma State; “Would this be the biggest win in Iowa State football history?”

While many concluded that it would due to a variety of the ingredients — Friday night national TV on ESPN, Iowa State’s bowl eligibility, Oklahoma State’s #2 ranking while ISU had never beaten a team ranked higher than #7, and ruining the Cowboy’s undefeated season and national title hopes — others still believed that the 1992 19-10 win over Nebraska was tops on the list.

While I must agree that Friday’s win is the biggest for the ISU football program from my vantage point, the 1992 win over Nebraska will always be special.

November 14th, 1992.

I was just eight years old but I was there with my dad.  The details are few and far between from the game itself but I still do and forever will remember Marv Seiler popping through the line on his 78-yard run to setup a Cyclone touchdown.

I’ll remember the details of the day with my dad even better, though.  We didn’t rush the field with the rest of the fans in attendance but we did go down on the field after the stream of fans onto the field had settled.  We walked up the west ramp and while my dad gave some pats on shoulder pads I gave high fives.

We walked back to the car and sat and listened to the post game radio show while the traffic cleared — a staple of attending any event with my dad that had any bit of traffic in the parking lot.  That day and that game will always be the most cherished memory I have with my dad who passed away seven years ago.

On Friday, I sprinted onto the field from the south end zone on the site of Woody crossing the goal line.  After 10 minutes of celebration and effort to get out of the crowd to open space I walked around the field and took in the sights since I was separated from my group.

I walked to the same spot on the west sideline that I came down on to the field just over 19 years prior.  I heard at least two fans note that they never wanted to leave.  I basked in the glow of the best win in the history of Cyclone football.

For just a few moments I was able to vividly relive the feelings of the greatest memory I have with my father.  The moment itself was born out of a great Cyclone victory but I can assure you the emotions cast a much broader net than that.  I wouldn’t have been the only one with tears streaming on Friday night had they begun to flow, but I held them back.  To everyone involved in the Cyclone football program; thank you.