MONDAY MUSINGS: Why the postseason is still wide open for the Cyclones

It was immediately following Matt Campbell’s second game as Iowa State’s head coach when he truly realized the depth of the rebuild that he had recently dipped his toes into.

He wasn’t happy about it, but the 42-3 scoreboard wasn’t what embarrassed Campbell following his team’s performance in Iowa City. The way that the Cyclones competed was troublesome.

“Furious,” is how Campbell’s postgame locker room speech has been described to me by multiple sources.

“As big of an ass chewing as I’ve seen in 20 years,” a witness said.

Despite losing a 44-41 overtime heartbreaker to the Hawkeyes on Saturday, Campbell’s attitude regarding this team could not have been more different.

“Night and day from 365 days ago in terms of that aspect of it,” Campbell said following the game. “You continue to watch our kids bounce back. We get down right at the beginning of the second half … we just keep fighting back, take the lead, we get into overtime, we score, we just couldn’t make that final dagger play that you’re going to have to make to beat that team. So at the end of it, hats off to them but I’m really proud of our kids. I couldn’t ask for any more from an effort and an attitude standpoints.”

That is where I have landed two days after the 2017 edition of the Cy-Hawk game. Like many of you, I was mentally tripped up after watching the Cyclones blow another late lead – two possession lead nonetheless. The longtime Iowa Stater in me said, “Here we go again!” I honestly am still have a hard time getting those thoughts out of my mind…

This loss really did feel different, to me at least. While it was no doubt frustrating, I have to step back and give Iowa ton of credit too. Akrum Wadley might be the best running back that Iowa State plays all year and he took that game for his team. Iowa had a superstar go out and win the game while down the stretch, the Cyclones made critical mistakes.

Throughout the game, Iowa State dared sophomore quarterback Nate Stanley to beat them and he did. For the record, Stanley was named the Big Ten’s Offensive Player of the week this morning.

Overall, that was as well-played of a Cy-Hawk game as we have seen dating back to 2002.

I am disappointed that Iowa State lost. All summer long, I tabbed the Cyclones to win this one. However, we saw enough positives on Saturday to be excited for the rest of the season too.

If you’re looking for a silver lining here, just compare last year’s reaction by the CEO (Campbell) to this one. It was very telling.

The difference of Iowa fan reaction after the game

I was blown away by my Twitter feed on Saturday night. It was full of Iowa fans complimenting the Cyclones.

Usually after Iowa State beats Iowa – or even loses a close game to the Hawkeyes – Iowa fans are livid with the result. After this one, it’s like Iowa fans (and media) now believe the Hawkeye season has just turned a major corner.

After beating Iowa State nonetheless…

Even in defeat, it seems to me that the Cyclones proved their worth to their largest critics – Hawkeye Twitter.

The Sunday After: Iowa (Instant Classic)

The importance of filling that stadium for Texas

Not to look past Saturday’s game at Akron (11 a.m. on CBS Sports Network), but I really hope that Iowa State fans are as excited about the future of this program as I am.

The Iowa loss stings, but this team can still go to a bowl game in 2017.

In the preseason, I had Iowa State losing to Texas but beating Iowa. Tom Herman’s Longhorns bounced back from a season-opening loss to Maryland by blowing out San Jose State (56-0) over the weekend, but those games can easily be flip-flopped.

Baylor is terrible and 0-2 for the first time since 2003.

There are enough pick’em type of games on this schedule for me to be very optimistic about Iowa State’s postseason possibilities.

However I’d hate to see this momentum come to a halt with a lackluster Thursday night, nationally televised crowd on Sept. 28.

My guess is that the athletics department will heavily push this game – as they should. It’s going to be a big one.

Let’s talk Akron…

Interestingly enough, the Zips (1-1) are coached by a familiar name, Terry Bowden, the son of college football legend Bobby Bowden. So that’s fun.

In case you missed it, I wrote a blog about the importance of this game for Iowa State earlier this summer. Our Rob Gray will dig deeper into Iowa State’s Ohio pipeline later this week so look forward to that.

— At first glance, Akron is a run-first football team. The Zips are currently ranked in the top 40 nationally in essentially every rushing category and 110th or worse in the same via the pass.

— Akron was blown out by Penn State 52-0 in week one and defeated Arkansas-Pine Bluff 52-3 on Saturday night.

— Iowa State is a 9.5 point favorite in the game, which I’ll admit, is much lower than I thought it would be. I tabbed the Cyclones as around a 13-14 point favorite on Saturday night.

Let’s talk Big 12…

— I’m eating a bunch of crow today following Oklahoma’s shocking road win at Ohio State on Saturday night. Phenomenal. The Sooners looked outstanding and Lincoln Riley very much has control of that program.

— Oklahoma State, TCU, and Kansas State are also legit. Despite a rough week one, top to bottom, the conference is much better than it was a year ago. Iowa State’s step forward is a part of that equation too.

— Baylor on the other hand is absolutely terrible. After losing to UTSA on Saturday night 17-10, the Bears are 0-2 for the first time since 2003.

My current Big 12 Power Rankings:

1 – Oklahoma
2 – Oklahoma State
3 – TCU
4 – Kansas State
5 – West Virginia
6 – Texas Tech
7 – Iowa State
8 – Texas
9 – Kansas
10 – Baylor

NOTEBOOK: Park on growth, Lazard with a one-word remedy

One final commentary on being a “good fan”

I have debated if I should tell this story or not for a good 48 hours but here goes…

Last week, Cyclone Fanatic was a part of RVTV with Channel 13, Hawkeye Nation and 1460 KXnO. It’s one of my favorite weeks of the year. The spirit of Iowans as a whole is remarkable.

This year to end the trip, Iowa State put our RVs in the student tailgating lot. I knew it was a terrible idea from the second we pulled in but we parked there and stayed the night anyway. I woke up early, talked to some early rising tailgaters and all was well.

A little before 8, I walked over to the stadium to host our Cyclone Fanatic Tailgate Show. I returned to the RV holding my daughter at about 8:45 when I saw a guy in an Iowa jersey open the tailgate to my truck, pulling down his pants getting ready to pee in it.


What would you do in this situation? I called him out on it.

Again, I’m holding my 2-year old daughter when this jerk proceeded to call me every obscenity known to man and threaten to fight me for a good 15-20 minutes until his friends pulled him away – all because I asked him not to urinate in my truck.

I’m not telling this story for any sort of sympathy or to call out Iowa fans. Iowa State – and every school in America – has bad fans too.

I also know that we shouldn’t have had our RVs in that lot. It was a terrible idea from the start but one that we didn’t have much control over. I should have gone with my gut and never parked there.

My whole point in telling this story is to use my voice with Iowa State fans to encourage ALL of us to be better fans. That’s it. I’d love for Iowa State to be a place where opposing fans enjoy visiting, which I think for the most part it is.

I’ll end today’s piece by displaying this tweet, which absolutely made my day when I saw it on Sunday.

This is what it’s all about.

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