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Football

WILLIAMS: A glimmer of hope

“What we all need in the Cyclone Nation is a little bit of hope…”

That’s what a longtime listener and first-time caller, Steve in Algona, said when he chimed in on Cyclone Reaction Saturday afternoon following Iowa State’s 45-27 loss to No. 2 Baylor. 

Some refer to that type of a comment as a fan having a loser’s mentality. Right now, I call it being realistic. After Iowa State got down 35-0 early to Baylor, I was ready to throw in the towel not only on the current game, but the entire season. Perhaps point of view is a moral victory, but visions of 2013’s 71-7 debacle in Waco were dancing in my head. Remember that game, when the Cyclones quit? 

45-27? 

I’ll take it. It’s sad that it’s come to this but once again, it’s also realistic.

Hello hope.

Hello Joel Lanning.

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Iowa State made a full-time quarterback switch at the half against the high-powered Bears and with that, it’s almost as if with the teeth of the schedule in the rear view mirror, a brand new season was born. The Cyclones scored 20 unanswered points in the second half and topped Baylor 27-10 when Lanning was in the game. 

Lanning’s threat to run and efficient 12-of-17, 144 yard, three-touchdown game opened up yards for others. Mike Warren finished with 145 of them on the ground. Warren, a redshirt freshman, is now 203 yards away from becoming the first Cyclone running back to run for 1,000 yards in a season since Alexander Robinson in 2009. Joshua Thomas averaged 5.9 yards per carry in his 77-yard day.

It’s now Lanning’s job, right?

It has to be.

“He had the package and he went out there and ran it,” Paul Rhoads said after the game on the Cyclone Radio Network. “He threw some unbelievable passes — some really good balls. I’m really pleased with this performance.”

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ABOVE: Baylor coach Art Briles and Iowa State’s Paul Rhoads before Saturday’s game. 

I’m not here to pile on Sam Richardson, but the simple numbers tell the story. There’s no need for any additional commentary. 

Richardson was 3-of-11 for 12 yards with two interceptions. 

There is not one credible argument that any intelligent human being can make for Lanning not to be Iowa State’s quarterback when Texas comes to town next Saturday night at 6.

Unsurprisingly, the defense responded to the sudden jolt of energy on the other side of the ball.  

In Iowa State’s first four possessions, the Cyclones went three and out three times and fumbled it once. The best offense in America predictably responded.

Baylor had 377 total yards of offense in the first half and was held to 108 in the second. Baylor punted five times on Saturday. In its six games prior, the Bears had only punted 12 times. The Bears were held to a season-low in points and yards. 

Same scheme. Same players. A little rest and momentum does wonders.

It was more proof that against the most high-voltage teams in the Big 12, the best defense is a competent offense.

Let’s all be careful here and not anoint Joel Lanning as some sort of savior for the Iowa State football program. We have no idea what lies ahead for the sophomore quarterback, this program or the rest of the season. 

Texas could make some adjustments and blow Iowa State out next week. 

And also remember, Iowa State did LOSE 45-27.

But at least now there is hope. 

My guess is that the majority of you feel the same way. 

EXTRA POINTS

*** At the time of publishing this, Iowa State’s losses this season have come to teams with a combined record or 32-2. Those two losses were from Texas Tech to Baylor and TCU, the No. 2 and 3 ranked teams in America. I write this for the sake of perspective of winnable games down the stretch, not to create an excuse for the Cyclones.

*** Former Cyclone quarterback Bret Meyer chimes in on Joel Lanning.

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 *** You all see Jaypee Philbert get beat by Baylor’s Shawn Oakman? He tweeted about it after the game.

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I hope that Jaypee does see him again, because that would be in the NFL. 

*** Some breaking, bad news out of Waco. 

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Iowa State held Russell to 197 yards and two touchdowns on a 16-of-37 day with an INT. The Bears get next week off. Stay tuned for an update on Russell’s health. 

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