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Football

BLUM: The Game behind THE RUN

Nov 12, 2016; Stillwater, OK, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders head coach Kliff Kingsbury reacts during the game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Boone Pickens Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa State has defeated Texas Tech just three times in series history. The Cyclones first win turned out to be a memorable one. With the Red Raiders coming to Ames this week, I decided to revisit the 2002 match-up featuring two pretty good quarterbacks, Kliff Kingsbury and Seneca Wallace.

Now 14 years later, thanks to Cyclones.tv, I viewed the full broadcast of the game for the first time. It brought back some interesting memories.

0:15 — The broadcast starts with a montage of the two quarterbacks and current Heisman contenders. Kliff Kingbury and his “golden arm” and Seneca Wallace the “Eye of the Cyclone.” Man, the production crew spent a long time coming up with those two phrasing gems.

0:45 — We are looking live at Jack Trice Stadium on a chilly October 12th night. The hills are packed and a “record crowd is anticipated.” The attendance that night was 51,842, a number that was the 2nd largest non-Iowa game crowd ever at Jack Trice. That same attendance number would be the 5th highest of just the 2016 season.

0:50 — The intro graphic flashes and Iowa State is 5-1 and ranked 11th in the nation, tied for highest ranking in school history at the time. Tech is 4-2 and tied for the lead in the South.

1:15 — The game is broadcast on TBS with Ron Thulin and Charles Davis as the commentators. TBS had a college football package featuring the Big 12 from 2002-2006. Their current Saturday night programming now consists of showing the Big Bang Theory on loop for hours on end. Hi Penny.

1:45 —  A graphic appears about Kingsbury, accompanied by the song Back in Black. Kingsbury leads the nation averaging 355 yards passing per game. Interestingly enough, that number would be 4th in today’s college football, trailing Pat Mahomes (Texas Tech’s QB), Davis Webb (A former Tech QB at Cal) and Luke Falk (Washington State’s QB coached by then Tech head coach Mike Leach.)

4:00 — We go down to the sideline reporter, Craig Sager! Sager, in a very normal suit, quotes Florida State coach Bobby Bowden saying, “Next to Michael Vick, Seneca Wallace is the best QB his team has ever faced.” Sager then holds up a Wallace Heisman campaign T-shirt and a VHS tape! “Seneca Wallace hopes to make more highlights tonight.”  This is tremendous.

4:30 — We now go to the other sideline (we have two sideline reporters tonight for this special, prime-time game.) And by golly it’s a young Erin Andrews! Andrews adds to the Wallace hype and brings up a story of the “Wallace Fan Clan,” a group of Cyclone fans wearing kilts supporting Seneca, an ode to William Wallace from the movie Braveheart. I wonder if those guys are still around and have those kilts?

14:30 — After Tech goes three and out thanks to a great stop by Tyson Smith, Iowa State settles for an Adam Benike field goal on its first drive. 3-0 Iowa State.

15:00 — The first down line tonight is sponsored by Home Depot. Quick aside, I attended this game in person with my then high school girlfriend. At some point during Iowa State’s first drive she asked me, “Where is the yellow line for first downs at?” We didn’t make it to Christmas.

Cyclones must get creative to contain “crafty” Patrick Mahomes

16:25 — Kingsbury completes a pass to Wes Welker for Tech’s initial first down. The future five time NFL All-Pro was originally a running back at Tech. Tech’s running backs coach is Art Briles, who is wearing a big puffy sweatshirt on the sideline tonight.

19:00 — With Tech driving, Welker drops a catchable pass and it’s intercepted by a young sophomore named Ellis Hobbs.

25:00 — We go down to Erin Andrews who lets us know MTV has been following Seneca around all week for their reality show True Life. “Seneca, Anna Nicole Smith, they each have their own reality shows.” Analyst Charles Davis lets us know he doesn’t watch the Anna Nicole Smith’s show, 18 year old me definitely does.

35:00 — Thanks to a fake punt (that tricky Mike Leach), Tech gets into field goal range and connects to tie the game up at three with two minutes left in first quarter. John Skladany’s defense is faring well and so is Skladany’s mustache in a tough wind night.

41:00 — TBS shows a poll asking who will finish higher in the Heisman voting: Kingsbury or Wallace. It asks the audience to vote on America Online, in between your chat sessions of course.

47:00 — The Iowa State offense is struggling. Tony Yelk punts deep into Tech territory and Welker inexplicably catches the ball over his shoulder inside the three-yard line, immediately tackled by Hobbs. Welker not having a good game.

48:00 — Cyclone linebacker Matt Word is highlighted as he makes a great play in the open field. Word is one of the more under-appreciated parts of Iowa State’s turnaround back in the day. Very good player.

1:01:30 — TBS has what they call a soap box where fans stand and rant outside the stadium. A few highlights, Ryan Greening from Ames says, “Hey Kingsbury, Britney Spears is here baby! What are you gonna do?!! You’re gonna lose!”

So after a quick Google search, Kingsbury was quoted in a Lubbock Journal article that season saying he was a big Britney fan and wore her concert T-Shirt under his practice gear. This article is incredible.

Also a dude named Shay (from Ames) and a shirt-less Mr. Bell (from Keota) are featured on the TBS soap box. I wonder if these gentlemen recall this? Mr. Bell was declared the winner of the EA Sports prize pack.

1:13:30 — The first half ends with an incomplete hail-mary by Kingsbury and the game tied at three. Tech out-gained Iowa State 217-120. Seneca has a pedestrian 48 total yards. It was a pretty boring and uneventful half. Sager has Dan McCarney on the sideline, “Our offense is out of sync, we need to get our throwing game going.” Sager throws it to Ernie Johnson for the half-time show.

1:14:45 — The second half begins with a highlight montage with Ludacris’ “Move *****” as the underscore music. Bold choice by TBS here.  Move ***** was No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 at the time. The No. 1 song was Kelly Clarkson’s “Moment like This.” That song much more wholesome.

1:21:30 — With Tech driving inside Iowa State territory, Cyclone linebacker Jeremy Loyd strips a Tech wide receiver and picks up the fumble recovery himself. A huge momentum changer. The Iowa State linebackers are playing fantastic.

1:23:45 — On a third and 15, Seneca throws a dart to Lane Danielsen to pickup 30 yards and a first down. Without this conversion, the following events never happen.

1:28:00 — As legendary as THE RUN has become, the immediate reaction from TBS is rather mellow. Mike Wagner gets more credit for his block than Wallace does for his tight-rope act. TBS only shows one or two replays.

1:39:00 — CONTROVERSY. On a 4th and goal at the one, Kingsbury sneaks it for an apparent touchdown. One line judge says he’s short, the other calls it a TD. Meanwhile, Wes Welker is in a shoving match with the Cyclone defense and Kingsbury’s helmet is ripped off. It is officially ruled a TD. The student section chants about bovine excrement. Replay didn’t get instituted in the Big 12 until 2005. The game is tied at 10 with six minutes left in the 3rd.

1:41:00 — This happened.

Iowa State led 17-10 and would not look back. The Danielsen reverse remains the longest run at Iowa State in the last 21 years and 10th longest ever.

1:46:00 — Erin Andrews interviews Kingsbury’s dad and asks him, “Are you worried that Britney Spears is your son’s idol?” Apparently, this Kingsbury-Spears thing was the real deal. How did I miss this?

1:47:30 — Kingsbury scrambles and is drilled by Matt Word, the ball pops loose and Anthony Forrest hops on it. Iowa State ball at the Tech 35. Britney Spears, we can assume, is not impressed.

1:51:00 — The Cyclones march it down the field and Mike Wagner punches it in behind Bob Montgomery from three yards out. Cyclones in control 24-10.

2:01:30 — After a Tech punt, Seneca throws a strike to Jack Whitver to keep the clock moving. Whitver gets some love from the crew for being a former walk-on that graduated in three years and now working on his MBA. Whitver would go on to get his MBA, his law degree and was just named President-Elect of the Iowa Senate last week. Quit showing off, Whitver.

2:08:00 — Today’s America Online question of the night from Craig Sager is, “What is former Iowa State wrestler up to these days?” Cael is in fact in attendance tonight.

2:09:30 — Wallace finds Lance Young for a 20 yard Cyclone touchdown. Iowa State dismantling Tech 31-10 with six minutes left.

2:18:10 — Kingsbury throws a meaningless TD to cut into the deficit. 31-17 Cyclones.

2:19:45 — Tech tries a pooch onside kick and it is recovered by Seneca Wallace. WAIT..WHY IS SENECA ON KICK RETURN?! Did anyone ask questions about this? Nowadays, Twitter would have broken in internet rage.

2:20:10 — We go to the studio and Ernie Johnson, sporting a goatee, tells us Above the Law with Steven Seagal is coming up next. An all-time classic.

2:26:00 — The clock runs out and it is a final. As the game nears conclusion, analyst Charles Davis comments on Iowa State’s place atop the Big 12 North and the tough road ahead starting with a trip to OU. Oh Charles, you don’t even know.

2:26:40 — Seneca, with his helmet still on, is interviewed by Sager in a mob of students. A graphic says Iowa State is 3-0 in conference for the first time since 1949. The fans climb on the goal post for no apparent reason.

Iowa State 31, Texas Tech 17.

Iowa State would climb to No. 9 in the polls the next day, the Cyclones highest ranking in school history. Wallace was the clear front-runner for the Heisman.

As we all know, Iowa State would win only one more game the rest of the season and Wallace’s Heisman hopes took a huge tumble starting the next week at Oklahoma. Wallace would end up not placing in the top 10 of the final Heisman voting. Wallace would have a 10 year NFL career.

Texas Tech would go onto finish 9-5 on the season, Kingsbury finished ninth in the Heisman, which was ultimately won by Carson Palmer. Kingsbury would play three years in the NFL and a couple years in the CFL before finding his way into coaching. He is already in his fourth season as Texas Tech’s head coach.

But for that October night, with MTV, Craig Sager, Erin Andrews, the 52,000 Cyclones in attendance and Britney Spears watching at home, Iowa State was the IT program in college football. We can only assume the Cyclones were also a hot topic on America Online.

Someday, the Cyclones will get to 6-1 and the top 10 again. But until then, the game behind THE RUN will be fondly remembered.

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