Three Favorite Cyclone Victories

In his latest column for CN, Marty Gallagher says there are three Cyclone victories that put ISU on the national map and still rank as his all-time favorites.

I try to be a "glass is half full" type of person.

So, when I look at the difficulty of the Iowa State football schedule, I try to see opportunities for memorable victories you'll talk about for the next 15 years.

The Cyclones have Big 12 home games versus Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas State and Colorado. You can count on some fantastic moments in those games this fall. Whether those memories last very long depends on each particular game's outcome, of course.

This led me to think about some of my all-time favorite Cyclone victories. There have been several great ones, like the "Hilton Magic" comeback against Oklahoma State, the Bowl victory over Pittsburgh and winning at Kansas during Jamaal Tinsley's senior year.

However, I'd like to mention three other games. Games that, in my opinion, helped put ISU on the national map at the time.

These are three of my all-time favorite Cyclone victories…

1) Iowa State 80, UCLA 56. March 23, 2000 at Auburn Hills, Michigan. After the Bruins torched Maryland in the previous round, many of the national experts had them as the favorites to win the national title. Surely, they would have little trouble with the Cyclones. Right?

Wrong. Very wrong.

That Thursday night was an absolute clinic about how a great basketball TEAM can make a great collection of individual talent look awful.

Tinsley looked like he could do whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted, from wherever he wanted. The junior point guard finished with 14 points, 11 assists and 9 rebounds. Most of the country didn't have a clue who he was before that game.

Marcus Fizer, Michael Nurse and Stevie Johnson all had 16 points for ISU, which improved to 32-4 with the victory. (Of course, the game against Michigan State for the right to go to the Final Four was on deck.)

I remember clearly how Coach Larry Eustachy's team proved that outstanding transition defense could completely shut down UCLA's vaunted fast break, which had led to so many easy baskets earlier in the tourney.

Iowa State ruined a lot of sheets that night. And it was great to see.

2) Iowa State 19, Nebraska 10. November 14, 1992 in Ames. Seventh-ranked Nebraska came to town on the heels of dominating victories over No. 8 Colorado and No. 13 Kansas. The Cyclones were 1-4 in the conference at the time.

My buddy Barry had been saying for years, "Not in my lifetime" every time anyone asked him about ISU's chances of ever beating the Huskers. "Not in my lifetime!"

But, the Cyclones had the ultimate secret weapon in Marv Seiler. The ISU quarterback ran for 144 yards on 24 carries, including one 78-yard gallop.

The crowd of 42,008 witnessed one of the greatest victories in Cyclone football history that day. It was also one of the biggest upsets in college football in the 1990s.

Seiler ran the option all day long, confounding the Nebraska defense, as ISU had 70 rushing attempts for 373 yards. In fact, "Marvelous Marv" only threw four passes, completing three of them for 26 yards.

Going into that game, very few people had ever heard of Marv Seiler. Today, however, there aren't too many Cyclone—or Cornhusker—fans who aren't well aware of who Marv Seiler is. And what he accomplished on that day in 1992.

One shining moment? Perhaps. But, that's one of the reasons collegiate sports are so great.

3) Iowa State 72, Michigan 69. March 16, 1986 at Minneapolis, Minnesota. Two days earlier, Jeff Hornacek's 25-foot, buzzer-beater enabled ISU to defeat Ron Harper's Miami of Ohio squad. On this day, the Cyclones faced the No. 5 team in the country for the right to advance to the Sweet 16.

Jeff Grayer led the way with 16 points and five rebounds for the victors. Ronnie Virgil had 14 points. Sam Hill, the CBS Player of the Game, scored 11 points.

Johnny Orr called it the greatest victory in his Cyclone coaching career. I would have to agree.

I remember Elmer Robinson getting a breakaway dunk in the waning moments of that game to seal the deal for Iowa State. It remains one of my favorite individual plays in Cyclone history.

All three of these games show that ISU is fully capable of knocking off the "big dogs." Even when nobody else thinks it's possible.

Let's hope there are a few more moments like these just around the corner.

(Marty Gallagher founded the popular web site His columns for CN online are published each Tuesday and Friday. You can e-mail him at


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