Mac's Best Moments

It has been quite the journey. Dan McCarney was hired in 1995. The Big 12 didn't exist, Bill Clinton was in his first term of his presidency and Michael Jordan was in his hey-day. 12 years later and it's an entirely different world. CN takes a look back at the greatest moments of the Coach Mac era.

Iowa State football experienced unprecedented success under Dan McCarney. In his 12 years, there were many great moments and wonderful memories. With the news today, let's take a look at a few of the most rewarding times in McCarney's tenure.


 August 31, 1995. In his first game at the helm of the program, McCarney's Cyclones hosted Ohio in a battle of teams that were winless the previous year. In front of 33,000 fans, the Cyclones struggled out of the gate and trailed 21-12 entering the 4th quarter. That is when the diminutive Troy Davis stole the show scoring three touchdowns and rushing 40 times for a school record 291 yards to lead ISU to a 36-21 victory. The fans stormed the field, tore down the north goal post and raised Troy Davis in the air as McCarney received a Gatorade bath. McCarney was the first coach to win his opener since Donnie Duncan in 1979. Cyclone football was fun again.  


September 28, 1996. In the greatest performance ever by a Cyclone running back, Troy Davis did the unthinkable against Missouri. Davis toted the ball 41 times for a staggering 378 yards, the best total in ISU history and the third best in NCAA history at the time. With the Cyclones trailing the Tigers 31-24 going into the fourth, Davis took it to a transcendent level running 16 times for 175 yards and 2 TDs in the fourth quarter alone. The Cyclones would win 45-31 and Davis was named national player of the week by anybody with a pulse. It was Dan McCarney's first Big 12 win and Iowa State football was on the national map.


September 12, 1998. The Cyclones traveled to Iowa City as 30 point underdogs, losers of 15 straight against the Hawkeyes. The Hawks were coming off a trouncing of Central Michigan 38-0. It was supposed to get ugly in a hurry. But ISU held firm. Halfway into the first quarter the Cyclones forced a three and out. And for the first time in three years the Cyclones blocked a punt. Kevin Wilson deflected the punt and ISU recovered at the Iowa 13. Darren Davis needed only three plays to find the endzone. Minutes later, Iowa return specialist Kahlil Hill muffed a punt and Cyclone Dawan Anderson recovered. A Jamie Kohl field-goal made it 10-0. That is all the points ISU needed. A resurgent run-defense held Iowa to 42 yards rushing. Darren Davis pounded away for 244 yards and the sledgehammer Joe Parmentier plunged in for two scores. Iowa State cruised to a historic 27-9 win. It marked their first road win since Nov. 2, 1991, a streak of 31 games.


October 14, 2000. It looked as if ISU had turned the proverbial corner. After five games into the 2000 season the Cyclones were 4-1 and two games shy of becoming bowl eligible. But, In order to make it a magical season, the Cyclones needed some help from a couple of youngsters at Oklahoma State. Freshman Michael Wagner filled in for the injured Ennis Haywood at tailback and ran behind a very seasoned offensive line. Wags had 100 yards and 2 TD's by halftime, but the Cyclones still trailed 16-13 at half. The little dynamo scored again, this time on a pass from Rosenfels; The Cyclones took the 20-16 lead in the 3rd quarter. Aso Pogi and the Cowboys marched right down the field to regain the 23-20 lead. That is when the unsung Carl Gomez took center stage. The punter, put into duty due to the ineffective Mike McKnight, nailed two 4th quarter field goals to give the Cyclones the 26-23 lead. However, the Pokes notched a FG of their own and with 2:41 left, the game was all square. Enter walk-on redshirt-freshman from Dike, Iowa. 


"The Cyclones could stall and kick a field goal here Eric with only 24 seconds on the clock…no it looks like they're going to run a play. Rosenfels drops, looks across the middle, it's caught by Danielsen on the slant, he's loose…10…5….Touchdown Lane Danielsen!!!!!"  Cyclones 33 Cowboys 26. The Cyclones moved to 5-1, one game shy of becoming bowl eligible.


October 28, 2000. In front of a night audience at Jack Trice stadium, the Cyclones left no doubts about their bowl chances. With the Missouri Tigers in town, the game started with a flashback to Iowa State's checkered past. Missouri drove the distance of the field on the first possession, scoring easily. When ISU countered with a Rosenfels dive, Carl Gomez missed the PAT. Here we go again. But this group overcame the ailments of Cyclones past. J.J. Moses provided a dazzling 34 yard TD run on a reverse that faked out seemingly the entire Missouri defense. Two Ennis Haywood TD's made it 26-7 and ISU looked well on its way to bucking history. But things tightened up. Mizzou drove into Cyclone territory trailing only 26-14.  Darius Outlaw's pass was intercepted by the diminutive Marc Timmons; he busted free and took it the distance for the TD. Jack Trice went into a frenzy. The rest of the night was an extended celebration. Cyclones 39 Tigers 20. The streak was over. McCarney said afterward: "People told me that I was committing professional suicide when I took this job. People told me that we couldn't turn this program around and that we couldn't compete in the Big 8 and the Big 12. It feels good to be 6-2. The kids did a great job and I'm really proud of them."


December 28, 2000. It was quite the week in Phoenix. An estimated 30,000+ Cyclone fans made the trek to the bowl, ISU's first bowl in 22 years. The opponent…the Pitt Panthers. The game didn't get off to the best of starts. Pitt's All-American receiver, Antonio Bryant got past the Cyclone defense, catching a 72 yard TD to open the scoring. But, Sage Rosenfels had the answer all night. He responded with a TD pass to Chris Anthony to tie it up at 7. A Woodley run, Haywood run, and another Rosenfels to Anthony pass made it 27-7 at halftime. The Cardinal and Gold were going nuts in the BOB. But the Clones couldn't land the knock-out punch and Pitt scored 13 straight to set the score to 27-20. After a Cyclone 3 and out and with J.J. Moses knocked silly, Pitt had all of the momentum and a chance to tie with the 4th quarter just underway. But Reggie Hayward and the Cyclone D came up big, forcing a Pitt punt. That's when back-up freshman punt returner Ja'Maine Billups re-wrote Cyclone history. "Here's the punt, it spirals out, now kind of wobbles out, Billups makes the catch 30 yard line, 35, up to the 40, midfield, he's down the sideline..HE MIGHT GOOO!! TOUCHDOWN JA'MAINE BILLUPS..HOW ABOUT THAT?!!!!!!! From there it was all academic. A Carl Gomez FG locked up Iowa State's first bowl win ever. As the clock ticked down, Dan McCarney received the Gatorade bath, Cyclone fans celebrated, some rushed the field taking the bowl turf with them. It was a sweet day to be a Cyclone. Cyclones 37 Pitt 29


September 22, 2001.


Only a week and half after one of the most tragic days in our nation's history, ISU traveled to Ohio to attempt to take our minds off the awful circumstances. An eclectic JUCO quarterback and a blue-collar running back did their best to accomplish that. Seneca Wallace threw for 250 yards in only his second game at ISU and Ennis Haywood did the rest. The senior captain carried ISU on his stocky shoulders. Haywood ran for 219 yards and cemented the game with a legendary run. "Cyclones leading by three, first and 10 at the 34, the give to Haywood up the middle, he pops through, into the secondary, down the sideline, 40, 30, 20, 10, TOUCHDOWN ENNIS HAYWOOD!! 66 yards for the SCORE!" The Cyclones in a much needed three hour distraction won 31-28. No Cyclone running back has broke the 200 yard barrier since.


September 14, 2002. It was the most anticipated Cy-Hawk match-up in a long time. The Hawks entered ranked in the top 25 and ISU was a program on the rise after battling #3 Florida State to the final play only weeks earlier. The Hawks threw the first punch and led 24-7 at half. That is when Seneca turned into Superman. Capitalizing on several Iowa turnovers, Wallace scampered for a 5 yard TD, threw a TD pass to Jamaul Montgomery and handed to Joe Woodley for another score to give ISU the 28-24 lead with four minutes in the third quarter still remaining. A Jeremy Loyd safety and more heroics from Wallace, including the "pass" to Jack Whitver sealed the deal. Iowa State 36 Iowa 31. It marked the fifth straight time the Cyclones defeated the Hawkeyes. Iowa State would be ranked in the top 25 later that week for the first time since 1981.


October 12, 2002. The game that would eventually be defined as the "Run." Hosting Texas Tech in a chilly Jack Trice, the 11th ranked Cyclones were one of the hottest teams in the nation. Seneca Wallace was a leading Heisman candidate, ESPN was all over campus and Dan McCarney was being heralded for one of the most amazing rebuilding jobs in college football history. With the game tied at 3 early in the third quarter, it happened:


"Second and 11 from the Raider 12 yard line. Here's Wallace pumping, looking, running to his right and he's going to be almost caught, now he's running at the 25, and runs down the sideline, back to the 10! Giving ground around the left side to the 5! TOUCHDOWN!!! OH MY GOODNESS WHAT A RUN BY WALLACE!!!!!!!


Iowa State would go on to win 31-17 and move into the top 10 for the first time ever.


November 20, 2004. In the most unlikely of fashions, ISU found itself in a battle for the Big 12 North. With wins in their final two games, the Cyclones could win their first Championship since 1912. First up was Kansas State. Trailing 23-9 in the fourth quarter, the Cyclones and Dan McCarney pulled a rabbit out of their hat. They scored 28 unanswered fourth quarter points, and capped the game with a LaMarcus Hicks 40 yard INT return for a TD. Iowa State 37 K-State 23. It was their first win in Manhattan since 1988. Although, the Cyclones would lose in OT the following week, the Cyclones shared the Big 12 North Championship and would win their second ever bowl game a month later.


September 10, 2005. Big, bad #8 Iowa came to Ames with a cocky quarterback and sights set at a National Championship. They walked out with a concussed quarterback and Championship hopes dashed after a 23-3 beat-down in Jack Trice. Iowa State dominated physically and punished Iowa the old-fashioned way. The ‘Clones rushed 55 times for 170 yards and pummeled Iowa into submission. It was ISU's first win over a top 10 ranked team since the Marv Seiler Nebraska game in 1992.


October 29, 2005. It was perfection in football form. Iowa State played a nearly flawless game and crushed Texas A&M 42-14 in College Station. It was arguably the most dominant performance in ISU history. Todd Blythe had eight catches for 214 yards and 4 TDs, Stevie Hicks plowed behind a physical offensive line for 125 yards and Bret Meyer threw for 370 yards. Meanwhile the opportunistic D forced three Aggie turnovers. It notched Dan McCarney's 50th win as the Iowa State head coach.


McCarney said after the game, "That's about as great of victory as we've had since I've been here."




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