Oct 3, 2020; Ames, Iowa, USA; Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy (15) celebrates a touchdown to bring the Cyclones to within one point of tying the game. With the extra point, the game would be tied at 30 during their football game at Jack Trice Stadium. Iowa State would go on to defeat Oklahoma 37-30. Mandatory Credit: Brian Powers-USA TODAY Sports
AMES — Gas cost roughly 25 cents a gallon, John F. Kennedy was still three days away from becoming the youngest man to be elected the President of the United States and Cassius Clay was two weeks removed from winning his first professional boxing match.
My maternal grandparents were sophomores at Clarinda High School and both of my parents were still several years from existence when Clay Stapleton’s Iowa State Cyclones defeated Oklahoma 10-6 on Nov. 5, 1960 at Clyde Williams Field in Ames.
People were still starting to learn about a small country in Southeast Asia named Vietnam. Six months had passed since the Soviet Union launched Sputnik into space, making a major step forward in what was yet to be called “The Space Race.”
Those darn Soviets.
Nobody could have known nearly 60 years would pass before Iowa State would beat those darn Sooners in Ames again. A whole 21,833 days have passed since Tom Watkins’ dive over the goal line handed the Cyclones their first win over Oklahoma since 1931.
Iowa State finally got those darn Sooners in Ames again on Saturday. The final score was 37-30 and it was broadcast on national television to millions of homes across the country, Cyclone fans, outside of a selected 13,724, celebrated the win on Twitter and in their homes due to a national pandemic that continues to infect people daily, including even our president (and Cam Newton).
And the people in 1960 thought Sputnik was a big deal.
A lot has changed in the last 60 years, but there was one thing that remained constant — Oklahoma won in Ames — 24-straight times to be exact.
Sputnik is nothing compared to how high Cyclone Nation flies tonight.
“I’m obviously proud of our football team tonight, got that, again, resiliency within the game. A lot of respect to Oklahoma and their football program,” Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell said. “I think there’s also a big part of me that’s disappointed in the fact that I still don’t think we’ve played anywhere near what we’ve go the ability to play and if we want to have the ability to become a team that’s got the ability to have success down the run here and in the long haul then we’ve got to really work on precision in our details. So, a lot of work to do from our end.”
Wait, what did the Cyclones’ head coach just say? Doesn’t he understand the historical significance of the game he just led his team through?
Sixty freaking years, Coach!
“We know how to play 60 minutes. Our problem is we don’t know how to play 60 minutes with great precision yet,” Campbell said. “Until we can get close to that, we’re going to live in this world where it’s hard. It’s hard to win football games this way.”
As it turns out, there might be one more thing to add to the list of changes since 1960.
This is not your grandfather’s Iowa State. Classes will go on Monday morning unlike they did following the win over the Sooners in 1960. Fans remained off the field following the win and the goalposts stayed right where they’re planted at the corners of University and Fourth.
Sure, the Cyclones leave the second week of Big 12 play as one of three unbeaten teams in league play, but there are still seven games left on the schedule. There was a day when just getting this win over Oklahoma would have felt like a big deal, but those days seem to be long gone — at least inside the program.
This program’s goals are bigger than toppling the five-time defending Big 12 champions. There was a day when the Cyclones just wanted to put satellites into space — and they’ve done it more than a few times now winning seven games over Top-25 teams since 2017.
Now, they are shooting for the moon. There are games left on the schedule. There is a championship out there to win — and the Cyclones are sitting as pretty as any other team in the league on Oct. 4.
“We don’t train in the offseason and go through all these things just to beat one team. It’s for the whole conference,” Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy said. “So to sit here and say we’re happy with how we played, I don’t think we could say that. I think we did take a lot of positives away from the game, but there’s a lot of things we can fix. It’s just little details. When we’re playing teams down the road, we don’t want to shoot ourselves in the foot with little things or details. I think that’s what Coach and I mean when we say that. It was a great win. I’m proud of the guys, but we’re going to move on from here and get better.”
The Cyclones are night and day better than they were three weeks ago when I sat in the Jack Trice Stadium pressbox following the team’s season-opening loss to Louisiana. It does not take a football genius to see that.
But, there is still plenty to clean up.
Penalties were a major issue for Iowa State on Saturday. Despite entering as the conference’s least-penalized team, the Cyclones racked up nine for 90 yards against the Sooners with some of them coming in crucial moments.
Purdy, who finished 12-of-24 for 254 yards and a touchdown, threw into staunch coverage a few times, narrowly avoiding interceptions, and fumbled once on a play that, ultimately, led to an Oklahoma score.
Sooners quarterback Spencer Rattler was able to find wide-open receivers deep more than Iowa State defensive coordinator Jon Heacock would surely like and he was able to gash the defense with his legs on crucial downs, especially in the first half.
This was far from a perfect effort.
In most of the years past, the fact that the Cyclones came away with the win on the scoreboard would have been more than enough, perfect be damned.
Those days are gone.
“It’s great that we won the game, but, it’s like I told our kids, there’s got to be a demand for everybody in this program to continue to aim to become the best version of us,” Campbell said. “I think that’s fell short at times in our program. Yes, it’s great to get the win, but there’s so much more out there for this team to become the best version of itself it can be. We’re going to keep fighting for it. At some point, you’ve got to demand it across the board. We’ve got the right leadership in this program right now to demand it and keep getting better.”
There was a day when we used to get excited about satellites being launched into the night sky — even if it was by our staunchest rival. Those were the days when gas cost a quarter, the soon-to-be president-elect was taking advantage of a relatively new invention called television and Iowa State was so excited to beat Oklahoma that goalposts were torn down and classes were cancelled.
There was a day when beating a top-25 team in Ames was enough, but those days are gone. There is another football game on the schedule next week, another two weeks after that and so on.
Saturday night in Ames was simply a satellite.
This program is has its eyes set on the moon.