Oct 28, 2017; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones running back David Montgomery (32) escapes the tackle from the TCU Horned Frogs in the second quarter at Jack Trice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
AMES — Obviously, David Montgomery saw Matt Campbell’s vision. Why the heck else would the 5-foot-11, 222-pound Cincinnati-native be playing at Iowa State?
“I mean, if I didn’t see it,” Montgomery said. “I wouldn’t be here.”
Campbell knew when he took the job in Ames, he could win with this program. The challenge was convincing everyone else, including a three-star running back from Ohio who held only one other scholarship offer.
In the last four weeks, it has become a helluva a lot easier to comprehend what Campbell has been preaching. No. 25 Iowa State is 6-2 for the first time since 2002 and 4-1 in the Big 12 for the first time in school history following a 14-7 win over No. 4 TCU at Jack Trice Stadium.
“From the day that I got here, I always believed that we could win,” Campbell said after the win. “I believed we could win last year, but I knew we didn’t have a foundation behind us to win some of these games in the second half. We didn’t earn the right to win those games, but I thought those lessons were invaluable. Everybody talks about being able to win some games at the end of the year, in my opinion, it was those tough, gut-wrenching losses that really allowed us to grow and learn. Again, the credit doesn’t go to any one of us. It goes to every one of our kids who just continue to buy into this program and believe that we can be successful. It’s great to see them be rewarded right now.”
Iowa State has officially become the toast of college football. Yahoo’s Pat Forde updates the program’s games weekly while referring to them as “the best story in college football.” The Cyclones have won four straight and every college football pundit in the country has taken notice.
While the hype surrounding the program continues to build, the guys within the walls of the Bergstrom Football Complex remain unfazed. They know listening to what other people say about them is not what has gotten them this far.
Surely everybody on Iowa State’s roster knows how monumental each passing win is, but it doesn’t matter to them because the only step that matters in Campbell’s “process” is the next one.
“It don’t really matter now. It’s a win. It just goes plus-one on our record,” Montgomery, who ran for 74 yards on 25 carries against the Horned Frogs, said. “It doesn’t really change anything for us. We’ve still got to go out with the same energy and the same poise day-in, day-out every week.”
“It’s in the past. I can’t change it. We can’t change it. Move forward from it.”
Saturday’s win means Iowa State is eligible for a bowl game for the first time since 2012. It has moved into a tie for first place in the Big 12 with four games to play and tiebreakers over two of the other top contenders.
It is uncharted territory for a program that has won four consecutive conference games for the first time since 2002 and has a tough road trip to West Virginia on deck.
The guys on this team could not care less. They do not need the territory to be charted, because they have their eyes looking forward, ready to take the next step in the process.
“Guys are really buying into the process of what Coach Campbell’s preaching,” starting quarterback Kyle Kempt, who threw for 21-of-35 for 202 yards and two touchdowns against TCU, said. “We can hang around with any team in our league. When the opportunity comes to take a game, we have that confidence now. That doesn’t mean we can go through the week not practicing hard. We’ve got to prepare each and every week because anyone can lose in this conference.”