Blum: What a Wild Ride

It was quite the road trip. Between the wild-fires in Oklahoma, the crazy drivers in Dallas and thousands of country music stations along the way, it will be a journey hard to forget. And that was before I arrived in Houston.

It was quite the road trip. Between the wild-fires in Oklahoma, the crazy drivers in Dallas and thousands of country music stations along the way, it will be a journey hard to forget. And that was before I arrived in Houston.

 

Before I give my Ron Jaworski-style break down of the game, I would be remiss if I didn't address the city of Houston. First off, H-Town felt as large as the entire state of Iowa. My hotel was in the southwest part of town, so little did I know when I entered the first suburbs on the north end; I had two hours left before we would pull into the parking lot. I scoffed at the idea before I came to town that, "Everything is bigger in Texas." But, they weren't kidding. And no, I'm not talking about the females. (Well, maybe.)

 

I counted roughly 200 car dealerships in my first 5 minutes in the city. Seriously, they had names of cars I had never heard of. They had a Ferrari dealership that was three levels, and four Ford dealers in one block. And the food….ridiculous. I have never seen so many restaurants. They had every kind of food imaginable within walking distance of every part of Houston. You could have been anywhere in Houston and to your left would be a Taco joint, right a Chick-Fil-A, behind you a Chinese place, while you are staring at a Whataburger. By the way, "Whataburger" should change their name to, "What-an-average-and-undercooked-burger."

 

I'll spare you from my thoughts of their oversized churches and furniture stores. Needless to say, Houstonians must buy a lot of love seats. But, I loved the city of Houston and will definitely make a return appearance.

 

Unfortunately, the game wasn't as memorable. This game had symptoms of every single Iowa State loss this season. Notwithstanding borderline legendary performances from Jason Berryman and LaMarcus Hicks, ISU has to walk away disappointed in their level of play. The running game was lackluster, lethargic, and lifeless. (Sorry, I was channeling Jesse Jackson.) It got so bad in the second half, the Cyclones flat-out stopped trying. Iowa State running backs had four carries in the second half. Four! Bret Meyer had a few scrambles additionally, but I can't remember an ISU team with so few carries in one half. In the game, Hicks had four runs accumulate in positive yardage and five that went backwards. I'm not the brightest, but if you add four turnovers on top of the running issues, when playing a top 15 team, you won't be successful.

 

Remarkably, ISU seemed in control the entire second half. Iowa State had eight drives in the second half: six of them started from their own 40 yard line or better. TCU, on the other hand, had one drive start from their own 40 or better (their last drive after the Corey Rodgers return.) There were so many chances for Iowa State to take control of the game, but the offense couldn't find the yards when they needed them. It's pretty much the story of 2005, the offense is splendid at times, but when they need to move the ball in critical circumstances, they get stuck in the mud. You can bet with 10 offensive starters returning, they will carry a chip on their shoulder throughout the off-season and not let opportunities go by the wayside in 2006. Call me an optimist.

 

On the other side, what more can you say about the defense? After TCU's first couple of drives in the game, the Cyclone D stepped up big-time (ISU looked like they were distracted by the TCU train-noise maker on the first two series, which has to be as annoying as turning on ESPN and finding Figure Skating.)

 

However, in the first five drives of the second half, TCU had -12 yards. Jason Berryman in that time-frame morphed from a solid defensive end into Lawrence Taylor. JB was everywhere. TCU quarterback Jeff Ballard became so paranoid that he would suffer a Joe Theisman-type leg-injury he was launching passes to nobody in particular. Just to think a year ago, Jason was in a much different situation. But, Berryman and the rest of the D wore down just enough to allow a difference-making Pete LoCoco field goal. The defense never allowed more than 27 points this year, something that hasn't happened since 1958. It has to be the best defense in Cyclone history. Thank you Leaders, Hicks, Paris, Moser, Dobbins, Cephus, and Jamarr. You made Cyclone defense enjoyable to watch and you will be missed. 

 

Iowa State's five losses in 2005 have been for a combined 26 points. The only teams with smaller average margins of defeat: USC, Texas, Ohio State, Georgia, Michigan, Penn State, Clemson.) Not a bad group of teams to be associated with. But, 5 losses are 5 losses.

 

In a city so expansive and spacious, the Cyclones came up just short once again. Despite the heart-ache, 2005 was one of the most exciting seasons in Cyclone football and it was a great ride. But, like all great roller-coasters, sometimes you end up sick to your stomach. Let's hope next year, Iowa State is the one on top in close games.                  


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