Vander Sanden's Weekly Top 5

Welcome all Cyclone fans to my weekly top five. What a game last Saturday! I know it isn't what we all expected or hoped for, but 3-2 sure sounds a heck of a lot better than 2-3, especially with Nebraska coming to town this Saturday night.

A lot of people thought this is where ISU would be heading into the Nebraska game too. A lot of good came out of the game Saturday against UNI, which SHOULD be expected.  Unfortunately, there were a lot of mistakes made on Jack Trice as well.  This week, all of our focus is going to be on the Huskers from Lincoln, Nebraska.  So sit back, and absorb my top five reasons that this is a pivotal game for the Cyclones' season.


  1. Front-Runner for Big XII North


-Saturday's game marks another great game against two Big XII North favorites.  Nebraska comes to town with a lot of confidence going into its game with ISU.  Last week, both teams got dealt with a hard-fought game.  UNI came to Ames and gave ISU more than a scare, and it took Nebraska overtime to get a W against an average Kansas team.  I think that a lot of Cyclones would have to say they are confident going into this game, after seeing Nebraska's struggle against Kansas.  The fact of the matter is that the winner of Saturday's game will be hands down, an early favorite to take the Big XII North Division crown.  There is no reason why ISU can't be in the driver seat.  One thing lacking that comes to mind with this team is CONSISTENCY.  If ISU has a chance in this game, it must, and I mean must, be a consistent football team on Saturday night.  Could there be a greater situation?  Absolutely not!  This game could be a game that sets a mark as to how ISU's season will lay out.  A loss to the Huskers puts ISU at 3-3, 0-2 in the conference, and a win builds confidence, builds strength, and builds the fan-base back up!





  1. Emotional Game (Renewed Rivalry)


-Number two on my weekly top five is that this will be an emotional game for players and coaches alike.  In 2002, the rivalry against Nebraska was renewed at Jack Trice.  You hear chatter from a lot of different people about who is going to bed the "Big Red" of the season this year.  I played in 2002, when we were a huge underdog to Nebraska.  ISU hadn't beaten them since the early 1990's.  In the past, they have dominated the series with ISU.  Well, in 2002, things changed.  I am proud to say I was a part of that team that made the change.  I was starting right guard, and we took it to them.  Who gives a s*($% about the "N" on their helmet!  Sure, tradition is great, but those players in the past cannot lead a team of the present, and that is the approach I took in 2002.  This is an emotional game, because the rivalry against Nebraska is alive and well.  I know for a fact that a lot of ISU fans hate Nebraska fans, and vice versa.  This game will be emotional for both squads, and those emotions could carry a team to a victory or loss.  Effort and focus will get the job done.  Not beating yourself will help your chances.  ISU needs to make sure its emotions carry them on Saturday, and each coach and player alike, needs to realize the magnitude of this game.  It could be "that" pivotal game to the season of 2006. 




  1. A lot of eyes were opened after one-point victory over UNI


-A lot of Cyclone fans' eyes were opened last Saturday against UNI, and that didn't come without fans jawing.  Words floated all over the air about the Cyclone's team and its coaches.  Sure, we should have blasted a D-1 AA school.  The result: we didn't.  Sure we should have run the ball better against 260-270 pound lineman with six defenders in the box.  The result: we had to take an aerial approach to get back in the game, and knot the score back up.  Stevie Hicks averaged over four yards a carry.  Against a D-1 AA school…that is unacceptable.  The o-line should just be mauling those guys off the ball.  There are some guys on UNI's squad that ISU didn't offer because they didn't think they were good enough to play at ISU.  When is comes down to cake and frosting, a lot of fans' eyes were opened real wide Saturday.  Fans started talking about ridiculous comments about firing Coach Mac.  Well, all of you are entitled your opinion.  Just like any fans, if Mac wins out the rest of the year, those fans will be the same ones that say Mac needs a contract extension.  The game Saturday against Nebraska is huge for the football program.  It is the BIGGEST game of the year in terms of winning back its fans.  ISU needs a ton of support, and the players need to go out and perform to win back those fans that decided to hop off the bus.




  1. One step closer to magical number 6


-Number four on the list is "magical number 6."  What the heck is this supposed to mean?  Magical number six is our target to get to become bowl eligible.  The sooner you get to six, the more rewards you will have at the end of the season.  Fast in getting to six wins = bigger and better bowl opportunities = more revenue = more fan support = unforgettable season!  The game against Nebraska on Saturday night will mark a pivotal time in the season.  You don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure this one out.  A team just lost a game.  They now fall to 3-3 in the standings.  Getting to six wins from 3-3 is a heck of a lot harder than getting to six wins from 4-2.  The sooner ISU gets to the magical number 6, the more confidence their players will have inside themselves.  Each win after six, the team is playing for BIGGER and BETTER things.  A pivotal game versus Nebraska Saturday night?  You better believe it! 





  1. Making Jack Trice a True Home Field Advantage


-For those of you who played for successful programs…wasn't it always fun to play at home in front of your own crowd?  Successful teams take advantage of playing at home.  Our fan support thus far in the season has been tremendous.  Keep that going Clone fans!  Still, I think that we all could be loud all the time when the defense has the ball.  That would be such a big thing for the players.  Jack Trice should be and NEEDS to be an advantage for the Cyclones.  Sure, if those three games they won would have been played on the road, I don't know how they would have turned out.  Jack Trice needs to be a tough place to play.  Opposing teams need to hate coming to play the Cyclones in Ames.  The only way that happens is when you beat up on teams and the crowd makes it tough on the opposing offense.  This means it has to be loud.  We do our part, the Clones do their part.  The Cyclones need to use Jack Trice as their home field advantage.  They need to make it tough for the opponents coming in to play them.  Enough said!  What a greater opportunity to make Jack Trice a true home field advantage for the Cyclones this Saturday night!  If Jack Trice is screaming loud and rocking, I guarantee it will be a home field advantage for the boys!


This wraps up my weekly top five.  I am curious, just like everyone else, to see how we perform against Nebraska on Saturday night.  I believe it is instrumental that ISU wins this game in front of 50,000+ screaming fans.  This will be a huge advantage for the Clones and a huge confidence builder for all of us.  After all, this game could be the defining game that tells us how the season will shake out.  Good luck on Saturday night!


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