Straight Shots From Welch Ave.

Last night I had a wonderful dream. Seriously, it was the most beautiful dream I've had in my 21 year history on this planet. If you care, then read this. If not, then read it anyways, because if you're a Cyclone, you'll get goose bumps.

The setting of this wonderful dream is the year 2010. It was late November. I was working as a college football analyst for ESPN. Yes that's right; they fired Lee Corso to make room for me. It was a beautiful site. Next to me on the set was a seasoned veteran in the world of journalism, he ticked off a lot of people over the years but he always stuck around and made benji's. It was Steve Deace.

 

So Deace and I were the color men on ESPN's College Gameday. It was awesome but it got even better. Brent Blum was the host. Basically what happened was ESPN kicked Fowler, Corso and Herbstreit to the curb to make room for Williams, Blum and Deace.

 

Ratings were souring through the roof. Week in and week out, we picked where the show would be live from on Saturday.

 

On November, 28, 2010 we went to Jack Trice Stadium to watch the second ranked Cyclones host the number one ranked Nebraska Cornsuckers. This wasn't just Jack Trice Stadium; this was the new Jack Trice Stadium.

 

The south end zone was bowled in. Empty seats were nowhere to be seen. There was a sea of red, Cyclone red that is. 60,000 plus Clones piled in to watch their team go for an undefeated season and a chance to play for the national title.

 

Outside of Trice, the atmosphere was unreal. Along with tailgating, live music highlighted the day as Hootie and the Blowfish held a concert next to the Jacobson Building. It was then when they revealed their new remix to the ISU fight song. The song was sick, let me tell you that.

 

 Here's how we got there.

 

Week One – ISU 31 USC 30

 

Don't ask how this game got on the schedule, but it did and it was the greatest game in the history of college football. The unranked Cyclones went into the land of the Trojans and upset the 5th ranked defending national champs behind the leadership of a crafty senior QB by the name of Austen Arnaud.

 

Here's what made it the greatest game ever. Iowa State was down by six with only 32 seconds to go. USC had the ball and looked to run out the clock. It was 3rd down. Iowa State had one timeout remaining. USC had to get a first down. Instead of getting the first down, a fumble was caused by a LB named Kris Means. Means picked up the ball and began to run. He then pitched the ball to Devin McDowell who took it to the house. After the PAT, no time was left on the clock and Iowa State won.

 

Dan McCarney got a Gatorade bath on national TV and Iowa State picked up the biggest win in school history. He also said the word tremendous 18 times in the post game press conference referencing USC's football team.

 

Week Two – ISU 56 UNI 0

 

There isn't much to talk about here. Arnaud was benched in the 2nd quarter. His protégé who had been playing WR all season named Phillip Bates took over and continued to run up the score. Bates threw for three TD's and ran for one. Alexander Robinson rushed for close to 200 yards in one half of football and last but not least, Iowa transfer Colin Sandeman caught three TD passes. (Sandeman transferred to ISU after the downfall of Iowa's program, hear more about that later.)

 

Week Three – ISU 45 Iowa 13

 

Kirk Ferentz left Iowa in 2008 to take a job in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings. Unfortunately for the Hawks, a mass exodus of star players followed. Sandeman was now at ISU and was an All-American. Arnaud improved his stock as a Heisman contender in this one with four TD's and 341 passing yards.

 

Iowa State then made their season debut in the top 25 with a 21st ranking.

 

Week Four – ISU 7 Notre Dame 6

 

In Iowa State's first conference game of the season, they squeaked one past the Irish in South Bend. Yes that's right; Notre Dame joined the Big 12. Instead of having a 13 team league, the Big 12 just kicked Missouri out. Missouri is now playing in the MAC. Tough break for the Tigers.

 

Anyways, Alexander Robinson went off for 151 yards. The only touchdown of the game was scored by Tyler Sash, an athletic safety for Iowa State who picked off a Notre Dame pass and took it to the house in the 4th quarter.

 

Arnaud threw for 145 yards with no picks.

 

Iowa State moved to 16th in the polls.

 

 

Week Five – ISU 24 Kansas 3

 

No problem for the Cyclones here. Kansas jumped out and kicked a FG on their first possession to take the early lead, but the Arnaud and the Cyclones were too much.

 

Iowa State moved to 12th in the polls.

 

Week Six – ISU 34 Kansas State 13

 

Now this was an intriguing football game. Kansas State was coached by a young guy by the name of Chris Ash. Ash took over a struggling program and made it contender once again.

 

This defensive oriented KSU team had problems containing the potent ISU offense as Arnaud had another career day throwing for 289 yards and three touchdowns.

 

Week Seven – ISU 20 Texas 14

 

The  10th ranked Texas Longhorns rolled into Ames undefeated and the left with a bad taste in their mouths. Texas led Iowa State 14-0 at halftime, but the second half belonged to this confident Cyclone squad. Kris Means and Rashawn Parker combined for six sacks in this one.

 

Iowa State cracked the top 10 and jumped to an 8th ranking.

 

Week Eight – ISU 13 Oklahoma 0

 

Iowa State hosted a struggling Oklahoma program and shutout the Sooners. Bob Stoop's team dropped to 5-3 on the season with losses to Iowa State, Nebraska and the Akron Zips in one of the biggest upsets in college football history.

 

Don't look now, the Clones are now ranked 6th.

 

Week Nine – ISU 27 Colorado 9

 

The Clones traveled to Boulder to easily defeat the 2-7 Buffaloes. Once again, Arnaud's Heisman stock goes up as he threw for 303 yards and three TD's.

 

Can you say top 5? Iowa State ranked 5th.

 

Week 10 – ISU 66 Minnesota 3

 

I agree, this was a weird place for a non-conference game but that's where it was. Iowa State's offensive coordinator Scott Stephenson did a lot of taunting after this one inside the Metrodome. Arnaud went crazy. Get this; he actually threw for 421 yards in three quarters of play. Add five TD's to that and he's all of the sudden a favorite for the Heisman. TE Ben Cotton had three TD's on the day.

 

ISU is now ranked 4th.

 

Week 11 – ISU 21 Texas Tech 20

 

Iowa State survived a scare in this one. Texas Tech had nothing to lose rolling into Ames and they almost upset the 4th ranked Cyclones. Iowa State pulled it out and there was more good news. The #2 Tennessee Volunteers and the #3 ranked Miami Hurricanes both lost as well. That moved ISU up to #2 in the polls in a showdown next week against the top ranked Huskers from Nebraska.

 

Week 12 – ISU 34 Nebraska 21

 

When looking at that score, you would automatically think that I would be happy. Yes, I was happy about the score, but my great dream soon turned into a nightmare. During the post-game show, the three of us couldn't control ourselves. Instead of breaking down highlights, we were singing the fight song. Instead of looking ahead to next weeks showdowns, we were acting like children.

 

Deace, Blum and I were fired by ESPN. We were homers and the network would not take it any longer.

 

Trev Alberts and Beno Cook replaced us hosting the show and College Gameday then turned into a show specifically breaking down Nebraska, Penn State and Notre Dame football.

 

This is the point where my alarm went off. I will never know if Iowa State went on to win the national championship. I will never know if Austen Arnaud went on to win the Heisman. But I do know that however long that dream lasted was truly the greatest time of my life.

 

Ok, fine, I'll be honest. I didn't actually have that dream. I just made it up while sitting in STAT class this morning.

 


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