On a day that his team put out a workman-like effort against Kansas, Hiawatha Rutland took a retro approach. The junior tailback sported a flat top haircut on Saturday hoping to psyche his opponent out. It worked. But now his teammates might have to worry about the Bobby Brown-esque do becoming a fixture.
Rutland, who rushed for 122 yards and one touchdown on 20 carries, probably doesn't want to change a thing after carrying the load in a 45-3 victory over the Jayhawks Saturday.
There was no mocking Rutland's production as a runner on Saturday, as he put together yet another solid performance to lead ISU in rushing for the second consecutive week.
The tailback cleared the 100-yard mark for the first time in his career despite splitting time with Mike Wagner during the opening three quarters and eventually giving way to third-teamer Brian Thompson.
One of the Cyclones' most flashiest personalities, Rutland took a more humble approach when analyzing his play.
"It was just taking what they were giving me," he said. "I don't consider myself a game-breaker, but I've got to game-breaking abilities. I just made the plays that were there to be made."
Behind Rutland's hard running, ISU erased all thoughts of last weekend's frustrating loss to Florida State. Thoughts of a letdown were diminished in the 42-point thrashing, but the Cyclones did come out a little shaky against a Kansas team in transition.
Despite owning 170-yard edge in total yards and easily winning time of possession in the first half, the Cyclones only took a 17-0 lead into the locker room. Seneca Wallace looked good on paper by completing 10 of his first 15 passes, but threw an interception and looked tentative at times.
"We started off slow again," said Wallace. "I have to do better. I came out a little lackadaisical and picked it up the second half. We started slow and made some mistakes. We need to cut down on those."
Cyclone coach Dan McCarney, who won his fourth home opener as a head coach, acknowledged the team's slow opening, but never any doubts of who had the upper hand.
"We were a little shaky and weren't real crisp early," he said. "We were concerned about it and I addressed it in the locker room on Saturday night after the game and then again on Monday the next time I got to see my kids. I said I'm not going to let it happen. I told them that we'd be in trouble if we started slow. I don't think we did that. We made a few mistakes early. It was 10-0, but I never felt like it was out of control. I felt like we were in control then and at halftime when we were up 17-0."
And if there were any doubts, ISU quickly erased them with a second-half flurry. Wagner scored two touchdowns in a span of 7:32 of the third quarter and Thompson came on to close out the display with a pair of late scoring runs of his own.
As a result, the Cyclones rolled up 277 total yards rushing and 511 overall.
KU's offense, meanwhile, struggled against a blitzing front led by defensive tackle Jordan Carstens. ISU pressured quarterbacks Zach Dyer and Bill Whittemore a majority of the time and got some positive results. Cyclone defenders sacked the two a total of four times and forced three turnovers on ill-advised passes.
The Cyclones made no secret of their intent on pressuring the quarterback early.
"That was the key," said freshman nose guard Nick Leaders. "Our defensive line is basically going for laydowns. We were trying to get to the quarterback as much as possible. We weren't worried about batting down balls, but knocking the quarterback down."
The Jayhawks struggled to sustain much of anything in the first half, managed just two rushing yards on 15 carries. Dyer wasn't much better through the air, completing 6-of-14 passes for 50 yards. He was pulled in favor of Whittemore to start the second half.
"We threw Bill (Whittemore) in there to see if we could get a spark, to see if we could get something going," said Mike Mangino shortly after making his Kansas head coaching debut. "This is not the way we we'd like to be playing, we've got a long way to go."
But the coach Mangino replaced, first-year Cyclone associate head coach Terry Allen, had plenty of smiles afterwards. McCarney awarded Allen with the game ball and eased some of the pain and frustration Allen has felt since being fired last November.
"There was never any rally cry, or win one for TA," McCarney said. "It was not that at all. But I'm glad to have him in the program and on our staff. He's a real positive impact in this program. It's a great hire and relationship that he and I have. I wanted to do that for him. It was a lot of fun in the locker room."
Allen gladly took the gift and has likely already placed it alongside some of his other treasures from the past.
"I'm thankful this one is over," he said. "It's been a long time since I've gotten a game ball. I don't usually carry a football around, but this one is pretty special and signifies so much to me. This one will go on the mantle at home. It was pretty special at the end of the game how they've responded. I'm very happy to be here."
The Cyclones are back at it next Saturday against Tennessee Tech at 6 p.m. and will play their first game under the new permanent lights installed at Jack Trice Stadium.